Last year, Chauncey DeVega asked a great question: how would we see Sarah Palin if she were black?
As much as we might like to pretend otherwise, blacks in America are not viewed the same way that whites are. Consider that instead of being primarily portrayed as an out-of-touch liberal elitist the way John Kerry was, President Obama—who has degrees from Columbia and Harvard Law—is the subject of persistent rumors that he is Muslim, not an American citizen, and perhaps even a terrorist sleeper agent. It’s hard to imagine any of these rumors swirling around the white John McCain, even though of course it’s McCain, not Obama, who was actually born overseas.
If Sarah Palin were black, her constant protestations that she’s the victim of unfair attacks would not be viewed with the same sympathy by the white majority as an expression of their frustration. Rather many more Americans would see her portrayal of herself as a victim as the whining of an entitled minority—never mind that, black president notwithstanding, it’s still non-whites that have the most reason to feel oppressed in the United States. As DeVega wrote,
If Sarah Palin were black, her daughter’s out of wedlock, “baby daddy drama” would have been presented as an example of both pathological behavior and a dysfunctional family that is symbolic of the social problems in that community. If Sarah Palin were black, never would the poor decision making by the Palin family be marked off as challenges overcome, or deeds to be valorized.
If Sarah Palin were black, her neo-secessionist husband would have been the death knell for her political career, because as we all know you can’t trust “those people.”
If Sarah Palin were black, her lack of intellectual curiosity, willful and cultivated ignorance, and lack of grace both written and spoken, would not be taken as “folksy.” Instead, Palin would be viewed as unqualified for any public office.
If Sarah Palin were black she would be tarred and feathered as an “affirmative action baby.”
And that, as DougJ at Balloon Juice says, is “before we even get into the targets on the map and the shooting of Gabby Giffords.”