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There is quite a bit of discussion this morning about Chris Matthews accusing Romney of "playing the race card".  This is all worthy -- and not what this diary addresses, which is:  What does "Playing the Race Card" mean?  Is it helpful to use it here?

It means:  

exploitation of either racist or anti-racist attitudes by accusing others of racism
This is not what Matthews accuses Romney (and his campaign) of doing.  Matthews would be much more effective if he were more specific: Romney's campaign relies on racist demagoguery.  This is not gamesmanship -- it is inseparably close to straightforward racism.

The cited Wikipedia entry also contains this:

George Dei, Karumanchery, et alia, in their book Playing the Race Card argue that the term itself is a rhetorical device used in an effort to devalue and minimize claims of racism.
I don't think that was Matthews' intent, but it is the effect.  While I applaud Matthews efforts, his diction dulls his accusation on two counts.  First, it mis-describes the actions he is criticizing, and second it moves the discussion from the reality of racism to the meta-reality of game playing.  (NB:  I have not closely watched the actual exchange.  I am relying on reports of it posted here on DKos.)

The Republican platform is (and has been for decades) raised on planks of racist demagoguery, from which slight elevation racist demagogues promoted and promote racism.  It should be identified as such.  Here, for once, we have an opening to discuss that.  It has nothing to do with "playing the race card".

(I have no love for the word "demagoguery" -- suggestions for alternatives welcome.)

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sun dog, Bill W, absdoggy, Renee

    Vote rape. Vote torture. Vote War Crimes. Vote with the American top 1%.

    by Yellow Canary on Mon Aug 27, 2012 at 07:51:36 AM PDT

  •  . (5+ / 0-)

    Tax Evader and Racist

    Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.

    by Horace Boothroyd III on Mon Aug 27, 2012 at 07:56:11 AM PDT

    •  The mouth isn't right ... (0+ / 0-)

      ... but that's almost always the case.

      The front page picture editors have been doing an excellent job selecting photographs, btw.  Tangential, but thought it worth mentioning here.  They communicate something the poster artist has missed.

      Vote rape. Vote torture. Vote War Crimes. Vote with the American top 1%.

      by Yellow Canary on Mon Aug 27, 2012 at 08:12:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I was wondering the same thing. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Yellow Canary, Renee

    I thought the phrase "playing the race card" was considered offensive by many here.  And now, there it is on the front page.  Puzzling.

  •  Meh, you're nitpicking. (6+ / 0-)

    Chris Matthews used a well-known "soundbite" type of phrase to pin an RNC bigwig to the floor.  I don't care if he didn't properly nuance it.  Nuance is often the enemy of good work getting done.

  •  It does fit (0+ / 0-)

    The Republican racists are taking two approaches.  The first is the claim that Obama is firing up his base;  the second is that Obama himself is himself racist (the Wright/Kenyan anti-colonialist prong).

    "Well, I'm sure I'd feel much worse if I weren't under such heavy sedation..."--David St. Hubbins

    by Old Left Good Left on Mon Aug 27, 2012 at 08:24:04 AM PDT

  •  Racist LIES, instead of demagoguery. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Yellow Canary

    The ads/attacks are just lies after all, and pretty much everybody has said so.  Besides, it covers much of the core of Mr.1%s campaign.

  •  What's the difference (0+ / 0-)

    Romney (who I suspect personally doesn't care about the color of someone's skin, as long as their money is green) is cynically pandering to a base that doesn't like him, while his apologists in the media keep trying to claim he's a moderate.  He's not a demagogue; demagogues actually have a personality.  He's a cynical crook who decided that exploiting the racism of the conservative base would get him what he wants.

    So your distinction may be accurate, but it's not clear what difference it makes.

    •  Here's the difference: ... (0+ / 0-)

      "You're a racist"

      vs.

      "You're playing the race card".

      Very different statements.  And note that you cannot the refute the first one (well) by saying "It was a batched joke."

      In any case the distinction sounded important to me, but the feedback indicates that it is not important to others.

      Vote rape. Vote torture. Vote War Crimes. Vote with the American top 1%.

      by Yellow Canary on Mon Aug 27, 2012 at 08:53:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I suspect he does personally care about color (0+ / 0-)

      He can't help but be a man of his times and his background. He may not consciously think about it, but a Mormon leader of his age is inevitably going to be classifying people on that basis, unless he does consciously think about it in order to overcome it.

      from a bright young conservative: “I’m watching my first GOP debate…and WE SOUND LIKE CRAZY PEOPLE!!!!”

      by Catte Nappe on Mon Aug 27, 2012 at 09:34:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'm not familiar with that book. (0+ / 0-)

    But disagree with that narrow definition of the term. Whether it has the effect of diminishing actual racism or not the term is very commonly used in the context Mathews applied it. And common use is what defines a word or term.

    This dynamic has introduced a new common term into the political dicourse, "other ism". Because the tactic goes beyond race and encompasses a broad spectrum of bigotry.

    The dialogue between Mathews and Preibus went straight to the "European influence" meme.

    It is a political tactic, calculated and concious. And hense a 'card' to be played. I don't really think the ugliness of it is lost in the phrasing.

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