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Conservatives want monopoly on calling others 'racist'

Ruben Navarrette Jr. on

He used it recently. It all started after White House chief of staff John Kelly accurately described Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., as "empty barrels" that make noise, and Wilson responded by calling the phrase "racist."

This counterpunch was predictable and dumb. But it wasn't really credible enough to be offensive.

The offense came when another prime-time cable host, albeit with fewer viewers than Carlson has every night -- MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell -- piled on Kelly. He also suggested the former Marine Corps general was racist and went so far as to blame said racism on Kelly's upbringing in segregated Boston.

No word on whether O'Donnell, himself an Irish Democrat, thinks growing up in Boston also made racists out of that most famous Irish-American family: The Kennedys. Stay tuned for that.

Not to be left out, O'Donnell's fellow MSNBC host, Joy Reid, got in on the act by tweeting that her network colleague had "scorched" the former general for his unpardonable "dehumanization of a black woman."

Gosh, liberals are such nice people, aren't they? Salt of the Earth.

Anyway, Carlson wasn't having any of it. On his show, he mocked both Wilson as yet "another disgraced politician alleging yet more fake bias crimes to hide her own failures" and called Reid's tweet "grotesque."

"The morons making the arguments are sick," Carlson said deep into sermon mode. "It's a symptom of disease to imagine racism behind every disagreement. It's also, by the way, the death of traditional political debate."

Those comments are spot-on. Which is why I wish someone else had made them.

You see, by his own definition, Carlson is himself a tad diseased and helping to kill what he calls traditional political debate. How? By shamelessly throwing around the word "racist" when he gets stumped by a concept or guest and doesn't have the intellectual juice to get un-stumped.

Last month, I was invited onto his show to discuss a column in which I suggested that -- after the Las Vegas massacre by Stephen Paddock, a white male who stockpiled high-powered weapons -- it was time for law enforcement to profile white males who stockpile high-powered weapons.

To Carlson, this was anti-white racism. In fact, he called me a "racist" about a half-dozen times during the enchanted four minutes we spent together. So he criticizes others for using a word that he himself reserves the right to use -- and to do so, if you'll pardon the expression, liberally.

This only feeds my contention that -- on matters related to race, and maybe a few others -- white men get to play by their own set of rules.

What can I say? It's good to be the king.

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Ruben Navarrette's email address is ruben@rubennavarrette.com.

(c) 2017, The Washington Post Writers Group

 

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