"Why do they seem so determined to also make it racial?"
So asks Joy-Ann Reid, the managing editor of The Grio, a web magazine owned by NBC News whose mission is to "focus on news and events that have a unique interest and/or pronounced impact within the national African Americans audience." The "they" in question are conservatives and journalists asking, among other things, why President Obama hasn't inserted himself into this case the way he did in the Trayvon Martin tragedy.
The irony-impaired Reid was asking that question about a heinous murder in Oklahoma, where, according to police, an Australian student was shot by a black youth with the help of two friends (one of whom was white) "for the fun of it." Police allege that the bored teens spotted Christopher Lane jogging and decided to follow him and shoot him in the back.
Reid asked the question while guest-hosting a show on MSNBC, a network that has mastered the art of making unracial things racial. Just two days earlier, Reid had insisted that there's a "neoconfederate thread" running through the gun-rights movement. Whatever that means.
Then there's MSNBC fixture Chris Matthews, who insists, with considerable regularity, that any criticism of Barack Obama is driven by "white supremacy." Critics of Obamacare, Matthews claims, believe that "the white race must rule."
Another MSNBC host, Martin Bashir, recently insisted that outrage over the ongoing scandal at the IRS is really nothing more than coded racism. The IRS is the new "n-word" according to Bashir. "So this afternoon, we welcomed the latest phrase in the lexicon of Republican attacks on this president: the IRS. Three letters that sound so innocent but we know what you mean."
Lawrence O'Donnell, another MSNBC host, assured viewers during the Republican National Convention last summer that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's joke about Obama playing too much golf was really a deliberate racist dog whistle. "These people," O'Donnell insisted, "reach for every single possible racial double entendre they can find in every one of these speeches."
And that of course leaves out Al Sharpton, an MSNBC host who can best be understood as the racial equivalent of an ambulance chaser.
Against this backdrop, Reid asking why anyone would bring race into the discussion is a bit like a pornographer asking, "Why make this about sex?"
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