So you’re looking for a surefire way to pound your political opposition into oblivion? Allow me to suggest an accusation of racism.
Why racism you ask?
Because no other accusation possesses the broad appeal and devastating effect that an accusation of racism does. There isn’t an operative alive who doesn’t tremble at the career shattering stigma the accused carries. Meanwhile, it’s unparalleled in its ability to stop substantive debate dead in its tracks. Why even consider the others?
Ideas? Those require too much critical thinking, which, as has been demonstrated time and again, is for losers.
Policy? A boring nerd-fest if you ask me.
Scandalous sexual indiscretion? Sort of exciting, but even accusations of infidelity might require a high burden of proof. Remember how they weren't ever able to make anything stick to John Edwards?
No, nothing offers the simplicity and accessibility that an accusation of racism does.
What’s even better? It follows the immutable law of supply and demand. The more charges of racism are out there, the cheaper it gets! Whereas in the past, racism carried a premium, the market has been flooded with cheap knockoffs, causing its value to be reduced dramatically. In today’s political climate it's a buyer’s market, baby!
The only unforeseen cost might be your credibility. But who're we kidding? If Tawana Brawley didn’t destroy your credibility, you’re pretty much invincible at this point.
While the circumstances of each accusation might differ from instance to instance, the approach is relatively formulaic. By applying three simple rules to just about any message, campaign slogan, or verbal gaffe, you too can contribute to the thorough cheapening of racism.
Step One: Ignore/Distort Intent
In today’s attention deficit disorder friendly media, the intent of a message is generally designed to be so obvious and universally accessible that a third grader can understand it. In partisan politics, however, you have the advantage of being able to assume that your readers will oftentimes be willing to ignore the obvious if it suits their particular persuasion. While your opposition will scream bloody murder, those of similar mind are likely to appreciate the fact that you’re reinforcing their pre-conceived notions, rewarding you with accolades and clicks.
When intent can't be ignored, distort it. Where intent is obvious, introduce subtlety. Insist that the true intent needs to be decoded (by you of course). Call it a “dog whistle” or employ other devices that give your reader the impression that the racism lies just below the surface.
Note: At all times CYA by insisting that the racism could be “unintentional”. Pepper your observations with enough passive language so that you can confound critics by denying you’re accusing anyone of anything.
Step Two: Ignore Context
After obscuring the intent, next you must deal with context. Where clarity of intent fails, context can often provide vital clues that could undermine your charges.
For example, if someone catalogues some the policy shortcomings of President Barack Obama, ignore the past three and a half years. Otherwise, what you seek to characterize as a vicious racial screed might be viewed as, heaven forbid, an honest list of policy shortcomings.
Step Three: Ignore Common Sense
With intent and context now having gone the way of buffalo, common sense becomes your chief obstacle. Let’s face it, even without intent and context, your implication is still pretty laughable.
Let’s use a recent example provided by the good folks at Mediaite who pointed out that Mitt Romney’s ‘Obama Isn’t Working’ theme used on banners and websites, could be a play on “the stereotype of the “lazy,” “shiftless” black man”, an observation that was seconded by some of the author’s unnamed friends, making it unquestionable. According to this theory, it’s possible that Mitt Romney’s campaign strategy includes wooing racist voters through the shrewd use of “multiple entendre”. If multiple entendre is going to move the needle in Romney’s direction, just wait until he deploys his devastating barrage puns, sarcasm, turns of phrase, and dirty limericks against the president.
You can see why suspending common sense here would be critical. Lucky for you, it seems to be in short supply these days.
There are two types of people who will make it through all three steps without having alarm bells go off in their heads. The first are the terminally oblivious who have yet to be claimed by natural selection. The good thing about this demographic as that their stupidity makes them particularly susceptible to the 50 cent generic Viagra ads that are going to pay the bills on your homepage. The other group is comprised of those who want to believe whatever trope you're pushing anyway. While they too might support your advertisers, research shows that they’re unlikely to follow you to Current TV.