Instapundit: ‘Shoeshine Boy’ Picture Not Racist

Weird • Views: 26,690

Glenn Reynolds (Instapundit) says this picture of Barack Obama as a shoeshine boy isn’t racist — because Rush Limbaugh was a shoeshine boy.

UPDATE: Or is it racist? Rush Limbaugh actually was a shoeshine boy. Yeah the racial stereotype is a bit shaky — when I was a kid I knew older brothers of friends who did that; even in Birmingham, Alabama they were white. By the time I was a teenager, of course, shoeshines were on the way out.

The idea that you can remove the racial context from this picture by saying, “Well, white people have been shoeshine boys too!” is such a transparently empty rhetorical trick, I’m surprised that Reynolds would try to use it.

And I’ll just point out that Limbaugh himself seems to have no doubt that calling someone a “shoeshine boy” is a deliberate slur; in May of last year Limbaugh used that very smear against Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa: Limbaugh calls LA’s Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa a ‘Shoe Shine Boy’.

UPDATE at 1/3/10 4:42:56 pm:

Reynolds has updated his post, and says I “slagged” him. But he doesn’t even bother to respond to the points I made. If it was just “slagging,” it should be easy for Reynolds to refute my post, right? (No, I’m not holding my breath.)

Here’s what he wrote:

Boy, bend over backwards to avoid accusing a Democrat of racism and what do you get? Slagged by Charles Johnson.

On that point, here’s a right wing blog that posted this image in September, 2008: Political Rants: Obama Gives a Mean Shoe Shine.

This ugly Photoshopped image has been making its way around the right wing blogs and mailing lists for a long time, and trying to claim that it originated anywhere else is just foolish.

UPDATE at 1/7/10 3:27:18 pm:

Reynolds updated his post again to say he does think the picture is racist, despite the appearance that he was excusing it (and I wasn’t the only one to think so). According to Glenn Reynolds, he was reacting against “cheap and bogus charges of racism.”

Which seems like an odd thing to bring up in the face of such obvious, blatant racism.

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