The “folksy” manner of Sarah Palin wears thin after a while but I never thought about it from a racial perspective until I read the following in The Huffington Post:
So let’s play a thought game. Imagine if a folksy, inexperienced black woman was nominated to be vice president on the Democratic ticket. And imagine that instead of coming from Alaska she came from Alabama, and instead of dropping white aw-shucksisms like “Doggone” and “You betcha” into her conversation, she used the equivalent black vernacular.
Imagine, as well, if her sentences didn’t come close to parsing, if they were wickedly ungrammatical — no, anti-grammatical — clouds of disconnected thoughts and sound bites. The right would rise up in indignation and disgust, and the most vitriolic, the Rush Limbaughs, the Michael Savages, would decry the presence of Ebonics on the national stage.
Were she black, Sarah Palin’s performance would have been skewered by the right as undignified and demeaning to the office she seeks. But because she is a culture warrior in heels, she is hailed by the right as a breath of populist fresh air, and her use of what conservatives once sniffed at as “substandard English” is celebrated as a signifier of her glorious everydayness.
I remarked to a friend the other day that Palin could accurately discuss Einstein’s theory of relativity and still sound ignorant. As Hanft points out in his article, the one saving grace of conservatives at one time was standards. They abhorred the watering down of standards (one reason for their fervent opposition to affirmative action). Sarah Palin represents the final devolution of conservative values. If she were black, she would never have been nominated by the Republicans and as a Democrat, she would have been summarily dismissed.
But with their combination of anti-intellectualism and over-injection of religion into the public sphere, as reified by the Governor of Alaska, the conservative movement has abandoned any claim on our intelligence. You betcha.