In defense of double standards

A really excellent analysis from Ambinder:

[I]t is certainly true that the Republican Party’s recent history on race almost requires any reasonable observer to treat a racially insensitive comment by a Republican differently than a racially insensitive comment by a Democrat. And that’s before we even judge the content and context of said comments, which, in the case of Reid and Lott, were quite different.

That is, the right answer to the assertion: “What would have happened if a Republican said the same time today? He would have been treated differently?” is to say, “Well, probably, yes, and that in and of itself isn’t unfair. It’s up to you to tell me why Republicans and Democrats ought to be treated differently, when they are different parties with different histories and different trajectories on racial questions.” To reach back at this point and pull out Trent Lott gets us into the false analogy rathole…

Maybe Harry Reid’s comments are a resignable offense. Maybe they’re beyond the pale. (I tend to think not: Reid was referring his excitement about a black presidential candidate; Lott was referring to his warm memories about a segregation’s agenda). But a responsible argument for such a consequence can only begin with an analogy — and not end with a false one.

At its most simple, it’s why I can call myself a fag but you can’t. Or why blacks can use the n-word but whites can’t. It’s not because of a double standard, it’s because you are trying to compare apples and oranges, gays and straights, blacks and whites, as if they’re the same thing. And they’re not. And then, as Ambinder notes, there’s context. Were you using the word to attack or to praise? And was the “praise” itself racist (a la Jimmy the Greek), or was it simply a poor word to explain something that is true and not racist at all?

Context matters.

CyberDisobedience on Substack | @aravosis | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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