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"12 Years a Slave" and the Obama era

That context was fresh in my mind when I read this column in National Review by Quinn Hillyer, a conservative pundit, think-tank fellow, and former candidate for the GOP nomination in Alabama’s first Congressional district. In the midst of an otherwise unremarkable rant against the perfidious big-government liberalism of President Obama, Hillyer unleashes this:

   " Every time decent people think the scandals and embarrassments circling Barack Obama will sink this presidency, we look up and see Obama still there — chin jutting out, countenance haughty, voice dripping with disdain for conservatives — utterly unembarrassed, utterly undeterred from any assertion of power he thinks he can get away with, tradition and propriety and the Constitution be damned. The man has no shame, no self-doubt, not a shred of humility, no sense that anybody else has legitimate reason to question him or hold any other point of view."

... SNIP ...

But most African-Americans, and many liberal whites, would read Hillyer’s rant as the cultural heir to Northup’s overseer: a southern white reactionary enraged that a calm, dignified, educated black man has failed to prostrate himself.

Go read Chait's whole article. It appears to me that he has understands one important thing - it's not the overt racism that matters so much in 2013, but the sum total of the covert racism.
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Conservatives can transport themselves for two hours into the hellish antebellum world of 12 Years a Slave and experience the same horror and grief that liberals feel. What they cannot do, almost uniformly, is walk out of the theater and detect the still-extant residue of that world all around them.
Extended (Optional)

Originally posted to aardvark droppings on Wed Dec 04, 2013 at 09:27 AM PST.

Also republished by Barriers and Bridges.

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