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Calling a black conservative “uncle” is acceptable?

A political campaign turns ugly in Kentucky

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron campaigns in Bowling Green on Oct. 27. Associated Press/Photo by Grace Ramey/Daily News

Calling a black conservative “uncle” is acceptable?

We live at a moment in time where racism will quickly earn you public censure—and should.

We can be glad for this moral development, particularly considering America’s sordid history on race relations.

Racism is vile, sinful, and profoundly dumb. It robs human beings of what is theirs by virtue of being human beings created in God’s image: respect and recognition of equal dignity.

When racism rears its ugly head, we should expect responsible people of all political persuasions to condemn it, right? Because the impartial distribution of condemnation should not be dependent on whether one is a Republican or Democrat, right? Surely a supposedly impartial and just political culture as ours would not let racist tropes go unanswered, right?

Typically, the answer would be yes, unless, that is, you can use politically correct forms of racism to beat a political opponent. In this instance, racist invectives go unchecked by political elites. Were a Republican to traffic in racist overtures for campaign purposes, every cable news show in America would be running wall-to-wall coverage.

But that’s not how our society operates—especially when progressives engage in explicitly racist overtures while considering themselves the arbiters of what is or is not racism. That’s what has happened in Kentucky, where racist epithets were hurled against a candidate for governor by a progressive political organization.

Let’s rehearse the facts of what happened in the last week in Kentucky, where Democratic Governor Andy Beshear is running for reelection against Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who is African American.

As the Lexington Herald-Leader reports, a 30-second ad from “Black Voters Matter Action PAC” aired a radio segment that calls Attorney General Cameron “Uncle Daniel,” a reference to Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin. The slur is meant to reference self-hatred and servility among African Americans. The ad starts by saying, “What’s up, Kentucky? It’s election time, and all skinfolk ain’t kinfolk.” This phrase, attributed to African American author Zora Neale Hurston, is meant to communicate that to be authentically black requires one to vote how all other black individuals vote. The whole ad is framed to suggest that Daniel Cameron is a traitor to black Americans because he advocates for politically conservative policies.

And, if you were wondering what else this group stands for aside from racial justice (as they define the term), you guessed it, they also advocate for LGBTQ “rights” and abortion.

Most, not all, conversations in America among progressives around race are not about repairing relations. They’re about the distribution of power and identity politics.

Cameron called on Beshear to condemn the ad. As of this writing, the Beshear campaign has not. The governor did say that because it was an African American-led PAC, he’d let the organization speak for itself. But this is just a cowardly way of withholding any criticism on the basis of, well, you guessed it—race. As if something is more morally right or more morally wrong because of skin color. This is a ridiculous and craven non-answer.

I wish this column did not have to be written. But since this whole despicable situation is taking place in my state, I feel compelled to interpret and explain what’s really going on.

According to modern critical race theorists on the political left, virtually every part of American life is bathed in racism. Even math is racist. Everything is racist, that is, until actual racism occurs and the people whose careers are spent finding racism in every nook and cranny in American life find themselves unable to condemn racism. Funny how that works, isn’t it?

Why is progressivism willing to label everything racist while also at the same time willing to excuse racism? Because most, not all, conversations in America among progressives around race are not about repairing relations. They’re about the distribution of power and identity politics. As this ad demonstrates, race is just a stand-in for a set of political convictions that, at substance, have nothing to do with race whatsoever. If policies are just, those policies should favor all Americans equally, regardless of whatever distinguishing characteristic one can think of.

What episodes like this demonstrate is that much of modern progressivism has reduced “race” to a set of beliefs, a set of beliefs that if someone who is black does not subscribe to, they’re somehow “less” black. We’ve seen these accusations thrown out against figures like Thomas Sowell and Justice Clarence Thomas for years. And now they have been lobbed at Kentucky attorney general and Republican nominee for governor, Daniel Cameron.

Now, I do not want to make this column about the upcoming election next week in Kentucky. And in full disclosure, I’ve known Daniel Cameron for well over a decade. He is a friend whose character and convictions I deeply admire. But even if I did not know him personally, I would still write this column. Why? Because racism, actual racism, the type that reduces and rates a person’s merits not by their ideas or character but by physical characteristics, deserves every scathing rebuke we can muster to give to it.

Andrew T. Walker

Andrew is the managing editor of WORLD Opinions and serves as associate professor of Christian ethics at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is also a fellow with The Ethics and Public Policy Center. He resides with his family in Louisville, Ky.

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