The Racialism of the Super Bowl (and Politics)

Even as it disappointed on the field, the Super Bowl supplied racial drama. The historical celebration, that a black coach was finally coaching a Super Bowl team—and not just one, but both coaches, both teams—was all over the airwaves. Even ads brought it up. Hooray.

Time to get on my hobbyhorse. I gather that on the McLaughlin Group yesterday, they—warning, here comes Yiddish—kvelled about black advances, black power, and Pat Buchanan said, Talk about power, what about the Jews, 2 percent of the population, 13 members of the Senate. Etc. No big surprise, he didn’t exactly start a conversation.

As a pluralist (I want all races and ethnicities to mingle and disappear in the great liberal bath of Humanity; alas, they haven’t yet), it interests me that Buchanan broke a rule: some ethnicities and races can be openly described in our journalism, others spoken of only in coded ways. Chris Matthews, for instance, regularly welcomes guests named McCain, Kennedy, Murphy, McMillen with jokes about Irish night, or insights about Irish politics. He’s a street smart guy, he loves ethnic politics. Matthews wants to talk about Jews as openly but he finds he can’t go near it.

The other night, telling Ben Ginsberg that his scenarios about Iran “scare the bejesus out of me,” Matthews said that Bush was still surrounded by “ideologues” who support attacking Iran, and that if Bush did attack Iran, Hillary would support him “for political reasons.” All code for Jews. Now that Walt and Mearsheimer have broken the taboo, you’d think Matthews could say what he thinks: Jewish money is essential to Hillary Clinton’s candidacy, Jews by and large support an aggressive response to Iran because of Ahmedinejad’s anti-Israel rhetoric, the neoconservatives are rightwing Jews, many of whom have intimate connections to Israel’s rightwing leaders.

Right now the Jewish press is the only press that will delve into this stuff. Presumably because while black-coaches-in-the-Super-Bowl confound stereotype, Jews-in-high-places confirms them. So the Times ignored Walt-Mearsheimer. I am of course for talking about Jewish power because I think it’s politically significant, and the Mideast is a powder keg. Also, if we openly identify the simple fact that protecting Israel is part of our Middle Eastern policy, Americans will a, almost certainly support the policy, while b, they increase pressure on a centrist (Jimmy-Carter-James-Baker-John-Mearsheimer) agenda: Israel’s hateful occupation of Arab lands is part of our problem.