One thing that has characterized political debate in recent years is the profusion of insults that pass for argument. Chief among them is one of the oldest in the book, the accusation of racism. Pretty much everything you hear from the left today when criticizing President Trump, Republicans, or just about anyone to the right of Stalin is that they’re racists or white supremacists. But is that epithet starting to become overused and ignored? And if so, what will the consequences be?
A prominent example of the reflexive use of the race card is President Trump’s criticism of the city of Baltimore. In response to continued criticism from House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Trump attacked the Congressman’s district, calling it a “disgusting, rat and rodent-infested mess.” Cummings district includes significant portions of the city of Baltimore.
Baltimore is now considered the most dangerous large city in the United States. Vast portions of the city consist of unoccupied houses, many of them decrepit and occupied by drug users and rodents. Its police force is notorious for its corruption, and anyone who could get out of the city did so long ago. There are still some pockets of the city that remain relatively nice and well-kept, but most of the city has been left to rot.
Successive mayors of Baltimore have resigned as a result of ethics scandals, and the city was recently the target of a cyberattack that took down the city computer system for months and cost the city tens of millions of dollars. The city, a vitally important port that was once known as “Charm City,” has seen its population fall from nearly 950,000 people in 1950 to only about 600,000 today. It’s more or less the Detroit of the Atlantic coast.
The same problems beset Baltimore that beset other large cities such as Detroit, namely greedy and corrupt governments. High taxes, high crime, and poor schools have forced many to flee. It’s not racist to point that out, regardless of whether Elijah Cummings or the Baltimore mayor are black. In fact, it wasn’t that long ago that Black Lives Matter protesters were vociferously attacking the Baltimore government after the death of Freddie Gray. Yet now criticizing the Baltimore government is racist? Give us a break.
All this playing of the race card will do is desensitize people to the terms “racist” and “white supremacist” so that when they do finally face someone who is racist or a white supremacist they’ll be less likely to understand what it is they’re facing. Pulling the race card is a desperate attempt to shut down debate and smear an opponent, but it doesn’t work anymore like it once used to. While it may play well with one’s base, it won’t attract support from anyone who’s on the fence. Let’s hope that use of the race card goes away soon so that it stops detracting from real racism that continues to be a problem.