Middle of the road

I find this sort of attitude baffling.  In a review of Richard Thompson Ford's The Race Card: How Bluffing About Bias Makes Race Relations Worse, William Grimes, the New York Times reviewer writes:

When he bears down, however, Mr. Ford is bracing. He clears away a lot of clutter, nonsense and bad faith. Best of all, he argues his humane, centrist position without apology or hesitation. Sticking to the middle of the road, after all, can be the fastest way to get where you’re going.

Mr. Ford wants to move beyond name calling and emotional point scoring. Let’s reserve the word racist, he suggests, for clear-cut instances of bigotry, and address more subtle problems of racial prejudice as we do air pollution, instead of rape or murder.

Two things.  One, I would hardly call the "middle of the road" remark axiomatic.  Whether it really is the fastest way to get where you're going depends on whether the road runs by George Allen's house.

This leads to a second point.  I can't think of anyone who would say: "I don't want to move beyond name calling and point scoring.  I'm happy with that."  That's about as empty a pronouncement as "let's move beyond false beliefs." And reserving the word "racist" for "clear-cut" instances of racism just begs the questions against those who level the accusation.  They, after all, think they have reasons.  What constitutes a clear-cut instance of racism, indeed, is just the issue.  What are those clear-cut instances?  I can't really say for sure, because, as is the case with false beliefs, they never seem to be racist to those involved.