Tuesday, August 20, 2019


Virtually anything can inspire a right-wing freakout, but the mass conniption fit over the New York Times's 1619 Project seems different from everyday Republican outrage. A journalistic project that attempts to measure slavery's long-term impact seems to be a greater threat to conservatives' sense of the natural order of things than, say, Drag Queen Story Hour or student loan forgiveness.

This gives me some insight into a phenomenon I haven't quite understood until now: the existence of voters who pulled the lever for Barack Obama -- in some cases twice -- and then chose Donald Trump in 2016. How can you do that? How can both of these candidates strike the same person as worthy of a vote? If you're angry enough at non-whites to vote for Trump, where was that anger when you voted for Obama?

I think what happened is that Obama-Trump voters voted for Obama with the following thought: Okay, now will you stop saying white people are racist? We've voted for this black guy. Have we finally paid the debt? But there were the deaths of Eric Garner and Tamir Rice and Freddie Gray and so many others, and there was Black Lives Matter, and it was clear that many of us would continue to talk about racism (because it still exists), and these voters said, Screw it -- I'm voting for the guy who isn't even trying to be nice to non-white people.

Why are conservatives upset about the 1619 Project? Because it says, This is something you still have to reckon with -- and they hate that message more than any other message that comes from the left side of the spectrum. What they want more than anything else is an expiration date for all talk about racism. They want to stop discussing it. They want to stop being asked to consider the lives of others who aren't white. They just want it all to be over. When will we just shut up about so-called racism?

We won't, because we shouldn't -- and nothing makes them angrier.

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