imageLet's put this out there - the "race card" is by and large a tool used by conservatives to stop people from talking about race, particularly as it relates to African-Americans.

In 2000, Donna Brazile was accused by Colin Powell of playing the race card because she pointed out that Republicans are awful on issues of race and toted out their few prominent black people in order to mask that. The South Carolina GOP chair accused Democrats of playing the race card because they complained about polling places in black neighborhoods being shut down. For some reason, the chair considered this an act of fear on the part of the Democrats, who didn't want black people voting in the GOP primary. Or something. I also remember some rumblings about the race card being played in 2000 when John McCain waffled back and forth between supporting and not supporting South Carolina's Confederate-tinged state flag.

In every case someone was doing something right - pointing out a problem the GOP had with race in a forthright and honest fashion. And in every case, the GOP immediately declared race itself a shameful and awful thing that immediately taints any discussion, no matter how racial its undertones already were. It makes the entire debate about whether or not the inner Jesse Jackson of all black people has come out and is trying to stomp around and extort various concessions from cowed white people, rather than what actually happened. And our political media being the bravely intrepid fuckwits that they are, it always - always - turns into a debate over whether the "race card" was actually played. As such, I wish to give you the guide to the Race Deck, so that you are well-equipped to handle all future playings of Race Cards.

The Race of Spades: The gold standard of race cards, when someone points out something overtly racist that a conservative did. Examples include George Allen's "macaca" outbreak, Trent Lott's endorsement of Strom Thurmond, Reagan's commencement of his campaign in Philadelphia, MS, talking about state's rights. The benefit and problem with playing this race card is that although it's harder for conservatives to declare it a race card, when they do, it's gloriously awful.

The Race of Diamonds: Pointing out economic or policy disparities that disproportionately affect minorities. The standard accusation of playing this race card comes with copious references to welfare reform, lazy immigrants leeching off our vast social insurance network and liberals wanting to take your money. For all the power the RoD has, minorities still earn significantly less on average than whites, which is solely attributable to the O'Reillys of our world boldly standing up to these race pimps and hustlers. Which, should you point that out, is liable to invoke the Race of Spades.

The Race of Clubs: When a conservative is accused of playing the race card for showing a modicum of sensibility on a racial issue. Examples include...well, there's some, I'm sure.

The Race of Hearts: The most easily played race card - it covers all instances where conservatives feel as if the race deck is even being fingered, sort of like a precursor race card. Examples are too numerous to name, but pretty much involve the entire body of public statements of Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Cornel West and the entire hip hop industry. One of the keys to the Race of Hearts is that it also allows anyone who says it's being played to also lecture the player on how they're ruining race relations and potentially making whites even more reticent to listen to them.

There's another race card that is also in this deck, but requires a previous race card to have been played before it can be pulled out.

The Race Joker: It can be preemptively pulled out following an initial race card outbreak before an accused player's next statement is made. It allows any caller of race cards to declare that, upon a second salvo by an accused race card player, any and all other race cards are being played - and the accusation can be made without any regard for the validity, purpose or content of the accused player's statements or actions. Think of it as a super Race of Hearts.

Now, we're left to ask - if all discussion of race and conservatives invokes a call to the Race Deck, does racism actually happen? Well, yes - but if it happens, the person or people committing the acts aren't conservatives, even if they're RNC committee members branding the word "nigger" on black peoples with a stylized starred elephant logo to the side under a shrine of Jesse Helms. They're liberals. They're always liberals. And probably Muslims.