Joan Walsh, the Salon columnist who has made a career out of calling just about every white non-Democrat (including me) either a racist or a panderer to racists, has a new piece of linkbait out headlined “The real story of the shutdown: 50 years of GOP race-baiting.” Here is how it is illustrated:
So you may ask yourself, I wonder what Walsh is going to say about Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky)? Nothing, it turns out. Instead, we hear of the Southern Strategy, Kevin Phillips, Pat Buchanan, Lee Atwater, birthers, and how "the election of our first black president riled up the racists and launched the Tea Party." In short, it is the same kind of column that flooded the nation’s newspapers and websites in the race-war-freakout summer of 2009; now updated to incorporate noted Caucasian Ted Cruz. Walsh's claim:
Today, the entire government has been taken hostage by leaders elected by this crazed minority, who see in the face of Barack Obama everything they’ve been taught to fear for 50 years. Start with miscegenation
Actually, if you start with miscegenation, you'll quickly discover at least three salient facts:
1) According to a 2012 Pew Research poll, both the incidence and acceptance of interracial marriage in America has increased sharply since the Reagan administration:
About 15% of all new marriages in the United States in 2010 were between spouses of a different race or ethnicity from one another, more than double the share in 1980 (6.7%). Among all newlyweds in 2010, 9% of whites, 17% of blacks, 26% of Hispanics and 28% of Asians married out. Looking at all married couples in 2010, regardless of when they married, the share of intermarriages reached an all-time high of 8.4%. In 1980, that share was just 3.2%. [...]
[N]early two-thirds of Americans (63%) say it “would be fine” with them if a member of their own family were to marry someone outside their own racial or ethnic group. In 1986, the public was divided about this.
That bottom figure is still too low for my tastes, but it does suggest that building a politics around appealing to those revolted by race-mixing is a losing enterprise with zero future.
2) Loving v. Virginia, the 1967 Supreme Court case that legalized interracial marriage, is one of the favorite high-court decisions among libertarians, the group that is more likely than elected Republicans to advocate limiting government and complain about its abuses. I found out that Mildred Loving died from a prominent libertarian (nameless for the moment since the communication was private), who wrote, "Mildred Loving was a champion of liberty. She helped America move closer to the goal of recognizing equality of rights for all citizens."
If libertarians are asked to grapple with the fact that some state's rights champions were racist yahoos, and that even some modern libertarians can go around the Confederate bend—and we are more than game to confront these issues head on—then intellectual honesty among our adversaries would suggest acknowledging that we aren't always or even frequently motivated by the desire to keep the black man down.
3) Anti-miscegenation laws were particularly notorious because they were laws, i.e., examples of the state abusing its police powers to prohibit peacable private transactions. Libertarian animus toward this is perfectly consistent with libertarian animus toward everything from the Drug War to the surveillance state to public sector unions to the Department of Commerce. Some of those targets can be seen as being more friendly to minorities; many (especially though not only those having to do with the criminal justice system) have arguably done more material harm to black people than every libertarian on earth combined. Perhaps race isn't the proper lens with which to principally interpret this philosophy.
In the event, Rand Paul, deployed here as an illustration of self-evident Tea Party racism, has been spending this summer lamenting the disproportionate effect of incarceration on minorities, proposing mandatory-minimum sentencing reform, saying "we went crazy on the war on drugs," pushing ex-felon re-enfrachisement, and casting school choice in explicitly civil-rights terms. That I'm confident Joan Walsh will figure out a way to find the racism behind these activities says more about her than the people she aims to write out of decent conversation.