Matthew Yglesias today notes the hypocritical—and ultimately racist—undercurrent just beneath Shout Radio Republicans’ objections to Sonia Sotomayor:
Qualifications like time at Princeton, Yale Law, and on the Circuit Court that work well for guys with Italian names suddenly don’t work if you have a Spanish name. Heaven forbid someone were to decide that there ought to be at least one Hispanic columnist at a major American newspaper.
Somehow, when George W. Bush affects a Texas accent, that’s not identity politics. When John Edwards gets a VP nomination, that’s not identity politics. But Sonia Sotomayor! Oh my heavens!
I think that Yglesias’s ironic and barbed observation here is a thoroughly valid one. Why aren’t white ethnic and regional appeals piously fretted over by Rush Limbaugh et. al. as the white identity politics that they so obviously are? Why are only black, Hispanic, and Asian displays of identity politics somehow problematic?
The answer is obvious. Shout Radio expressions of horror at “identity politics” are, ironically, coded racial gestures to whites who fear blacks, Hispanics, and Asians. It is a racist appeal that feigns alarm for creeping racism.
And, by the way, a recent Gallup poll tracks Republican Party affiliation at 89% white!