Nation writer Ben Adler damned the Republican convention in a recent online column for … reaching out to minorities and saying they would be welcome in the party. Adler didn’t put it that way of course. Instead he sniffed that the GOP was practicing “tokenism”. Indeed, the headline of the piece is “RNC Schedule: Tokenism Extraordinaire”:
Most Republicans oppose affirmative action, but their national convention is the apotheosis of the practice at its most tokenistic and least substantive. Whereas Democrats and liberals support policies that are meant to actually assist disadvantaged groups as a whole and to protect them from discrimination, Republicans have no interest in women or minorities except as window dressing for their discriminatory policies. It would be insulting for them to think it will actually work.
Adler is quite clearly frustrated that GOP can actually schedule an impressive number of talented speakers with conservative politics who also happen to be members of minority groups. You can almost hear him say: It just isn’t fair! Liberals are supposed to own minority politics! The GOP isn’t supposed to be able to do this!
A few points in response:
In addition to being insulting, the use of the term “tokenism” to describe these speakers isn’t accurate. A true token is window dressing with no other skills or usefulness. Is Adler really arguing that GOP wouldn’t otherwise want people like Artur Davis, Mia Love, Condi Rice or Marco Rubio to speak on their behalf? These are powerful, effective advocates regardless of the context.
Second, this is a classic “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” scenario. If the GOP did not have minority voices on their stage, I’m certain that Adler would be writing a column pointing to that as proof of its hostility to minorities. Indeed, that is exactly what liberal writers said in previous decades.
Finally, as those of us at the Examiner have noted, the left has put a lot of effort into continuing the “Republicans are racist” narrative – even to the point of asserting evidence that doesn’t exist. Adler’s column is best viewed in that context. It is less about the GOP’s problems with minorities than their advances – and that is annoying and disconcerting to the left.