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Friday, December 12, 2003

Divide and Conquer


I have heard suggestions, mostly in jest, that the GOP should play on Dean's relative lack of black support (as Charlie Rangel points out). They should push for Dean as the nominee; then, they should work to convince black voters that Dean is not the candidate for them, and try to get them to vote on racial lines and write-in Sharpton or someone else.

That might actually be a successful tactic; who knows? It's been done in India; it worked, and it's screwed over the country and led to perhaps millions of deaths.

People keep telling me that the US is not India. Often, I agree. Our teenagers have less self-respect; their court system is quite FUBAR; the Teamsters, I hear, run NYC; the (bizarrely mostly Islamic) criminal underground runs most of India and, most importantly, has some measure of control over the cinema, undoubtedly the best tool for moulding public opinion. But I should not deceive myself that the US is more calm, logical, and practical than India: as one billboard in fall 2000 said, "Think Indian elections are confusing? Try following the US elections!" Nor should I let myself think that the US has moved beyond senseless mob violence: as Cincinnatti and L.A. show, India hasn't got a patent on race (or religion) riots. It is quite easy to find writings from the turn of the century and from the 1930s poignantly believing that the West, and especially western Europe, has become civilized and moved beyond war. Truth is: unfortunately, we never will.

In short: don't even joke about trying to inflame racial tensions for political purposes. It's simply not worth it.

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