The word “tell” can be used as a noun. It has origins in poker, where a “tell” is an expression or action that gives away what the player is really thinking. It’s the opposite of “poker face,” the blank, neutral expression of a seasoned player.
Republicans have more or less abandoned the code words and sleight-of-hand of the past, where “welfare queen” was a derogatory term for a low-income Black or Hispanic woman. That way, they could express outrage that you would dare accuse them of racism but now, they are less interested in hiding that. They feel comfortable just saying things and being unfiltered.
Sometimes, however, they still fall back on the “what me, racist?” tropes of old. For example, the current talk about Joe Biden promising to nominate a Black female to the Supreme Court after Justice Stephen Breyer’s retirement announcement has brought out the right-wing dogs howling at the moon:
Joe Biden will nominate a black woman for the Supreme Court because he said he would select someone based on race and sex, and then we will be told that noting that this is definitionally affirmative action and race discrimination is itself racist.
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) January 27, 2022
The underlying message here, of course, is that the idea that ANY Black woman could possibly be a nominee to the Supreme Court is deeply ridiculous. But, they retort, all we’re saying is this limits the pool of potential nominees! This is hilarious in that sad sort of hilarious because the right only pulls their SCOTUS nominees from a single group: The Federalist Society.
Along with this fake affirmative action outrage, the howls of how divisive such a nominee would be will continue to get louder, although that is coming less from outright racists than it is from people who strongly believe Biden cannot choose anyone to the left of Joe Lieberman or else that will divide us even further. Or something. Who knows.
But that’s not the only tell we see flying around these days. The Smartest Centrists on Substack have made lots of hay about liberal “wokeness” leading to “cancel culture.” They wrung their hands and rendered their garments over how Critical Race Theory was being taught in schools, and how the Woke Twitter Mob was shutting down all discussion.
Funny how there is actual cancellation happening, real stuff going on, and these people are very quiet about it. Judd Legum, Tesnim Zekeria, and Rebecca Crosby of the excellent investigative reporting group Popular Info outlined some very alarming activities going on in the cancel culture world, and it’s not coming from the left.
This is some real authoritarian-level stuff, including the idea of blacklisting teachers because they might have let slip that slavery was really bad. The silence from those driving the claims that the left and people like Nikole Hannah-Jones and Ibram Kendi are the Real Fascists is quite a tell. But then, such people are not good at hiding their racism. Never have been.
Then, beyond basic good ol’ American racism, there are the “enough with the COVID stuff already” people. They claim to be worried about kids. Perhaps some are. But the fact remains, there are no widespread school closings brought on by scaredy-cat liberals, but in many cases, they are due to staffing shortages because, shocker, people are sick with COVID!
In addition, these people seem extremely upset about restaurants:
OpenTable restaurant reservations in January 2022 as compared with January 2019:
— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) January 25, 2022
Huh. Could it be the number of sick people canceling plans? Or sick staff? No, it’s just those silly liberals. Deaths keep adding up through all this, of course, but if you mention that, you are the worst (I make sure I remind people like Dave Leonhardt, who published garbage like this on April 19, how many people have died since they wrote their scolds of silly libs who care about their fellow American – it’s been 300,000+ dead Americans since he wrote the linked piece). The next defense they have is howl “they were old and weak so they would die anyway! Comorbidities!”
What they are really saying is that they can’t be bothered to care about elderly people and those with chronic conditions, certainly not enough to offer any minor, temporary inconvenience. Look, if you are old enough to remember the fight about the Americans with Disabilities Act, you know there is a river of deep contempt for disabled people that runs through this country. I think we have learned over the last two years just how deep that runs.
People often argue that politics is a silly thing that does not reveal the real person, that we can’t judge people by their politics. But I think politics is a great unmasking that reveals the person inside, and who they are at a very base level. As Maya Angelou once said, “When people show you who they are, believe them the first time.”
You will know them by their tells.
The last word goes to The Who, who raised a good question.