“Does Paul Ryan’s Black Ex-Girlfriend Matter?”

Over at: The Root, it was asked: Does Paul Ryan’s Black Ex-Girlfriend Matter?

As reported on Twitter by CNN’s Pete Hamby, Ryan said he has a black sister-in-law, but perhaps even more interesting, his “college sweetheart” was African American.

So here is the million-dollar question: Is the fact that Ryan has dated interracially a noteworthy detail to consider when analyzing his politics and policies?

Here’s a well-known phrase that has virtually become a punch line: When someone finds himself on the ropes facing an allegation of racism, the go-to reflex defense is usually something along the lines of “But some of my best friends are black!” Translation: “I can’t possibly be racist or racially insensitive because there are black people I like and they like me. So there.” Many of us are so used to hearing this – and, frankly, dismissing it (remember George Zimmerman’s media-friendly pal Joe Oliver?) – that we long ago stopped asking, What if it’s actually true?

For years Lou Dobbs was the face of the anti-illegal-immigration crusade. As a result of his seeming obsession with the issue, he became in the eyes of many the face of xenophobia and racism, not to mention public enemy No. 1 of Mexican immigrants. There’s just one hitch to this narrative: Dobbs is married to a Mexican-American woman, meaning that he is the father of Mexican-American children. (His Mexican-born mother-in-law even lives with his family.)

When I discovered this I was surprised, and not for the reasons you may think. While I was somewhat surprised to learn of his wife’s heritage, given his own politics on issues that overwhelmingly affect a community of which she is a member, I was even more surprised that I’d never heard him mention it on his program or prominently in interviews. He certainly didn’t hide it, but my point is, if anyone could have benefited from a “But my best friend – in fact, my wife – is Latina, so I can’t be bigot” defense, it was Dobbs, and yet he chose not to hide behind that.

Certainly, having a relationship with someone of a different race does not automatically make someone more racially sensitive and enlightened.

Yes, but as a general rule – it does. Most people don’t bother to make friends with someone they believe is inferior. It seems even more unlikely that a man is going to have a“college sweetheart”: from a race he hates. But, this is where the real world clashes with the fantasy world a lot of left-wing minorities live in.

For example, I haven’t seen any significant evidence that George Zimmerman is racist or that Trayvon Martin was shot because he was black. Moreover, I can 100% guarantee you that Lou Dobbs doesn’t consider himself to be racist and doesn’t consider the immigration policies he’s supporting to be harmful to Hispanic Americans. Rather than take the time to consider other points of view, a lot of liberals skip thinking altogether and just label people and policies they disagree with as racist. That’s a lot easier than genuinely listening to someone like Lou Dobbs, giving him an opportunity to change your mind, and risking potentially being attacked as a hatemonger by your own “friends” because you intellectually agree with someone they’ve falsely labeled as racist.

So, does the race of Paul Ryan’s college sweetheart matter? Not to most people. But, if you see a racist behind every bush and tend to falsely chalk disagreements with you up to racism, then, yes, it should probably make a difference.

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