Charles Blow, the NY Times' once-a-week "visual Op-Ed columnist," is out to make a name for himself. Much like Frank Rich, who jumped from theater critic to political flame thrower, Blow is on a path to jump from graphic design editor to political flame thrower.
Unfortunately, like Rich, Blow seems to be determined to make a name for himself by relentlessly playing the race card.
Here is what Blow wrote about the Massachusetts supporters of Scott Brown:
Welcome to the mob: an angry, wounded electorate, riled by recession, careening across the political spectrum, still craving change, nursing a bloodlust....All opposition to Barack Obama's agenda reflects racism in Blow's world. It really doesn't matter what people say or do, to Blow it's just an excuse to score political points by charging racism.
Today's column by Blow pretty much sums up his approach:
Racist. Tea Party.I'm sure you will not be surprised where Blow comes out on the issue:
Are those separate concepts or a single one? Depends on whom you ask.
Blow hides behind two polls which do not say what he thinks they say about supposed Tea Party racism.
The Tea Party is a Frankenstein movement — an odd collection of factions, loosely stitched together, where the head, to the extent that it exists, fails to control the body.
It has attracted hordes of the disaffected with differing interests, including some who’ve openly expressed their dark racial prejudices and others who polls suggest harbor more subtle and less visible biases.
I examined the Washington Post poll in an earlier column,WaPo Distorts Its Own Poll On Perceptions of Tea Party Racism. Despite the spin place on the poll by people like Blow, the poll actually showed that a strong plurality of Americans did not believe the Tea Party movement was motivate at all by racism.
Yet Blow spins the WaPo poll in his column as showing the opposite by quoting the portion of the poll which measured the extent to which opponents of the Tea Parties viewed the Tea Parties as racist. To cite this measure, but ignore the other measures I explored in my earlier column, reflects either an intentional deception by Blow or an inexcusable intellectual neglect.
Blow also cites a University of Washington poll which purports to show that race motivates Tea Partiers, or as Blow describes it, "large swaths among those who show strong support for the Tea Party also hold the most extreme views on a range of racial issues. The fringe theory is a farce."
James Taranto at The Wall Street Journal picked apart that U. Wash. poll. Read Taranto's entire column to see how biased that poll was, but here are the punch lines:
These two polls, and isolated anecdotes, is all Blow needs to smear the roughly quarter of the population which supports the Tea Party movement as racists so evil they are Frankenstein-like.
As for the claim that conservative views on these questions reflect "racial resentment," however, the survey provides no evidence one way or the other. It did not plumb the emotions of the participants, who were given a prepackaged assertion and permitted only a binary response. It's possible that agreement with a statement like "Blacks should do the same without special favors" reflects a resentful spirit, but it could also reflect a respectful one--a confidence that blacks are as capable as anyone else.
When [the pollster] asserts that tea-party sympathizers are "racially resentful," then, he is imputing to them his own emotional reactions to the questions. The entire exercise illustrates only that political liberals are predisposed to believe that politically conservative views on racial matters are the product of resentment. It would not surprise us if this belief is true in some cases, but by conflating viewpoint and motive, this survey merely presupposes what it purports to prove.
Tom Maguire summed up Blow's logic quite well:
To call Charles Blow a race-card player of the worst sort, we do not have to invent anything. We have Blow's columns.
Oh, well - since blacks in California opposed the gay marriage measure on the ballot, I am confident Blow is a homophobe; since he backed Obama over Hillary, we can chalk him up as sexist as well.
And until he can scrub the stain of sexist homophobia from himself, we intend to tune him out.
Sooner or later, Blow will realize that he has marginalized himself, and that there may be no room at The NY Times' full-time columnist table. The seats already are taken by people who have been playing the race card a lot longer than Blow.
Update: Cathy Young at Real Clear Politics also debunked the spin placed on the U.Wash. poll, Tea Partiers Racist? Not So Fast. I particularly liked this point:
John McWhorter, a noted black scholar and author whose works include the 2000 book, Losing the Race: Self-Sabotage in Black America, says that "the idea that 'racism' is behind the Tea Partiers is based on a lazy and vain extension of the term 'racism' to meaning 'that which many black people would not approve of.'" According to McWhorter, "The position that the government does too much to help black people is not necessarily one based in inherent bias against people with black skin -- it can be argued as a reasonable proposition based on the spotty record of social programs since the 1960s."
H/t to Noel Sheppard for the Young link, and for reminding me that it was Blow who referred to the participation of blacks at a Dallas Tea Party as "a political minstrel show devised for the entertainment of those on the rim of obliviousness and for those engaged in the subterfuge of intolerance."
And, how to avoid: If you think Charles Blow is full of crap, you’re obviously a racist.