One thing that’s become clear to me in the rightwing pushback against accusations that some of their rhetoric against President Obama is blatantly racist, is that they simply don’t see it. To them, unless they’re wearing a white sheet or burning crosses, they can’t possibly be racist.
In Louisiana, a justice of the peace refused to sign the marriage license of a couple because they’re interracial. "I'm not a racist,” Keith Bardwell told the Associated Press. “I just don't believe in mixing the races that way,"
He tried to “prove” his lack of racism: "I have piles and piles of black friends. They come to my home, I marry them, they use my bathroom. I treat them just like everyone else." So, he’d be racist only if he didn’t allow them to use his bathroom? WTF?
Apparently, Bardwell’s objection is over children: "There is a problem with both groups accepting a child from such a marriage. I think those children suffer and I won't help put them through it." So apparently he’s also an expert in child psychology and children’s welfare.
To Bardwell, and probably his defenders on the right, because he “didn't tell this couple they couldn't get married. I just told them I wouldn't do it" he’s not discriminating or violating the law. He must be unaware that the Supreme Court has already ruled that the state—which Bardwell represents—cannot deny couples the right to marry solely on the basis of race (they must still be heterosexual, of course).
The bigger issue is not the denial of the license itself—the couple ultimately got it signed by another JP. The issue is that Bardwell cannot see the racism inherent in his deciding that an interracial couple shouldn’t marry, and that doing so may create children that are somehow inferior. He doesn’t get a free pass just because he has “piles and piles of black friends” or because he let’s them use his bathroom. His underlying assumption is the problem, a paternalistic attitude based on race that has no place in the 21st Century.
And this is why the rightwing just doesn’t get why some of their rhetoric comes across as blatantly racist: They simply cannot see it and don’t believe they have any racism in them, whether or not they allow black people to use their toilets.