‘Reverse’ racism

‘REVERSE’ RACISM…. The right keeps coming up with odd phrases in which the apparent meaning bears no resemblance to the actual meaning. “Opposite marriage” was a popular one a few weeks ago, despite the fact that it was not referring to the opposite of marriage.

Matt Yglesias flags a new one.

Rush Limbaugh thinks Sonia Sotomayor is a “hack” and worse, “Here you have a racist — you might want to soften that, and you might want to say a reverse racist.”

This seems very confused. Being a “reverse racist” can’t be similar to being a “racist,” it needs to be the reverse of being a racist. Limbaugh clearly just thinks Sotomayor is a racist. She hates white people. For a Latina to hate white people isn’t “reverse” racism, it’s racism. Reverse racism would be if you had a white person who hates white people. It would be like racism, where you hate people of other races, but in reverse.

I had the same reaction, but I’d take this just a little further.

If we accept Limbaugh’s argument at face value, he argues that a Latina like Sotomayor is a “reverse racist,” as opposed to being a generic, garden-variety racist, because he thinks she hates white people. Putting aside the fact that the accusation is insane, the key to Limbaugh’s case is the race of the injured party — those bigoted against white people aren’t racists, they’re reverse racists. Presumably, then, those bigoted against non-white people are actual racists.

That’s the reasoning here. Those who hate whites are reverse racists; whites hate others are regular ol’ racists.

I vaguely recall a panel discussion when I was an undergrad, sponsored by the Black Student Union, in which participants debated whether it was possible for African Americans to be racists. It never occurred to me that Limbaugh would argue against it, but here we are.