Yesterday, Salon.com published an op-ed by white liberal columnist Gene Lyons in response to Melissa Harris-Perry's recent writing for The Nation on racism as a factor in declining white liberal support for the President. Rather than disagreeing thoughtfully and respectfully with Harris-Perry's argument, Lyons chose not to focus on criticizing the substance of her articles but instead on attacking her as a black female intellectual.
The short version: Lyons dismissed Harris-Perry as a "fool" and "a left-wing Michele Bachmann, an attractive woman seeking fame and fortune by saying silly things on cable TV." He claimed her argument that white racism may be a factor in liberal disillusionment with POTUS is a "photonegative of KKK racial thought," and dismissed her writings on race as "useful for intimidating tenure committees staffed by Ph.D.s trained to find racist symbols in the passing clouds." On top of all that, Lyons mocks black experiences of racism and our right to speak out about it thus: "Furthermore, unless you're black, you can't possibly understand. Yada, yada, yada. This unfortunate obsession..."
There's absolutely no question that this is an outright attack on Prof. Harris-Perry's race, gender, and professional accomplishments. Even more disturbing, it's an attack on all black people and all other people of color who dare to study or publicly raise the issue of racism on the left.