National Review is the center of grief and mourning for Rush Limbaugh's bid to buy the St. Louis Rams. Andy McCarthy, in a dispatch from what I have to assume is another planet, said that Limbaugh treats people "in the Martin Luther King aspiration that the content of one's character is what matters, not the color of one's skin." Kathryn Jean Lopez said Limbaugh being rejected was "an outrage," adding that Limbaugh was taken off the deal "because of his politics." On Twitter, the normally astute Jon Henke repeated this canard, asking "What would happen if NFL told Olbermann or @Maddow their political views made them ineligible for NFL team?"
Limbaugh's "political views" weren't the problem. His racial views were the problem. The players and NFL officials who spoke up didn't complain that Limbaugh was a Republican, they didn't even complain about his "views." They complained about actual things he said about black people that made him an inappropriate candidate to own a team in an organization with such a large contingent of African Americans.
The NFL is an organization made up of a lot of people who make a great deal of money -- I would guess that on average, management and ownership probably skews Republican. But it's also an organization made up of a lot of black people -- and while the right was focused on debunking racist things Limbaugh didn't say, they pretty much ignored Limbaugh's record of racist commentary, which includes not only a habit of comparing black athletes to gang members but a general hostility toward black people. Limbaugh only recently suggested that having a black president encouraged black children to beat up white children -- he's also compared President Obama's agenda to "slavery reparations," used epithets to reference his biracial background, and compared Democrats responding to the concerns of black voters to rape. In the fevered swamps of National Review, where they're still defending William F. Buckley's support of segregation, this kind of behavior is described as Martin Luther King like.
On the one hand, there's the general anxiety on the right that comes from the recognition that one can't actually treat black people this way and expect there not to be social consequences. On the other, there's actual bewilderment about the very concept of racism -- conservatives understand in the abstract that racism is bad, but they seem incapable of identifying actual racist behavior. Instead, because (a) racism is bad and (b) liberals are bad (c) racism is a quality possessed by liberals. By definition, conservatives cannot be racist, because they are good, unlike liberals, and therefore nothing Rush Limbaugh says is racist. Moreover, while liberals have sometimes intimated racial motivation for conservative criticism where there isn't any, conservatives have refused to recognize when attacks on the president become attacks on black people. Calling the president "an angry black guy" is one of those times.
This blanket refusal to evaluate their own behavior is what continues to make the GOP seem completely tone deaf when it comes to minorities -- the GOP can list as many black Republicans from the 1800s as they like, as long as they continue to adhere to the Bender Theory of Discrimination and refuse to acknowledge even flagrant racism within their ranks, and even imply that minorities are so stupid they're "fooled" into believing racism exists, they will remain a party minorities do not feel welcome in.
-- A. Serwer