TPM Reader AC adds his voice to the conversation …
After many conversations about race with conservative friends (mostly finance types), I had an revelation.
Most liberals define racism as the belief that people of color are inferior morally, mentally, or physically.
But most conservatives define racism as discrimination. That is, to conservatives, a racist is a person who judges individuals on the basis of their skin color.
In my experience, what liberals define as racism is very common among conservatives. Conservative pundits shuddered when John Derbyshire published his advice to his children about race–telling his kids to avoid large groups of African-Americans, etc.– but most of their readers see such observations as utterly obvious. They see the notion of white (and to a lesser extent Asian) superiority as a mere statistical fact. All attempts to talk about slavery and lynching and discrimination and imperialism are met with eye rolls. Thus, the constant complaining about “political correctness.”
And when liberals call Republicans racist, conservatives are confused and angry. They say, “I’m not a racist; I gave money to Herman Cain. The real racists are the black voters who choose Obama out of color loyalty.” And while some conservatives know this is bullshit, that blacks have voted for a lot more white candidates than the opposite, many truly believe that racism is about judging the individual, not the ascription of traits to particular groups. And this is why they produce editorials like the one you mention.