Op-Ed Column From Hell

07:35 Tue 20 May 2008
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What shows up in the op-ed pages of American newspapers should no longer surprise me, but somehow it still does. Last Thursday, “conservative” commentator Kathleen Parker wrote a truly awful column that was syndicated throughout the US, essentially trying to defend racism as patriotism.

While denying that it’s racism, of course:

Full-bloodedness is an old coin that’s gaining currency in the new American realm. Meaning: Politics may no longer be so much about race and gender as about heritage, core values and made-in-America. Just as we once had and still have a cultural divide in this country, we now have a patriot divide.

“Heritage”? Yes, and “heritage” has nothing to do with race, of course… ai yi yii. It would be laughable if it weren’t in a piece that’ll be taken seriously by many American readers.

The concept of “full-bloodedness” is, of course, scary. Being a “true American” is now apparently a matter of blood. Which might just be related to race, of course. Hmm. What is “American blood” in this sense anyway? Parker doesn’t have a serious answer to that, but alll the demographic groups she seems to care about in the article are, of course, white—except for one token comment about how the right to bear arms is important to blacks so they could “protect themselves when the police could not”—as if a) Kathleen Parker would have been out there defending the rights of the Black Panthers to bear arms and b) they weren’t primarily concerned with protecting themselves from police.

Really, though, the absolute worse thing in this column is this:

“Some Americans do feel antipathy toward “people who aren’t like them,” but that antipathy isn’t about racial or ethnic differences. It is not necessary to repair antipathy appropriately directed toward people who disregard the laws of the land and who dismiss the struggles that resulted in their creation.

This is essentially a defense of antipathy towards people who aren’t like you, which is hideous, while also being a lie (clearly lots of Americans are racist and/or ethnically biased), and further suggests that large swathes of “others” are out there in the land breaking the laws (“we don’t hate them because they’re black, we hate them because they don’t respect our ways”—our racist, prejudiced ways). Lastly, of course, the struggles that resulted in the creation of the laws of the land go right back to war, genocide, invasion, theft, and exploitation; Parker probably isn’t even really aware of this, but takes her jingoistic desire for a pure beginning and assumes it’s true.

I don’t think I’ve properly critiqued this column, but there’s just so much there that’s so wrong, it’s kind of overwhelming.

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