Playing the 'playing the racism card' card is a useful tactic when there's a likelihood of being labelled as a racist, due to saying things that some people might consider racist. Instead of simply not saying those things, launch into a world-weary "You can't even say anything nowadays without someone crying racism" passage, pointing out that you really aren't racist, no matter what words you come out with and how you arrange them, therefore you're not.
It is usually coupled with the idea of the "Uncomfortable Truth". This is the idea that rather than see the Uncomfortable Truth, your enemy (in this case, liberals) decides to play the racism card instead. You thereby portray them as the ones who are taking the easy option and being prejudiced, whereas you are working hard to expose the Uncomfortable Truth and are simply a victim of them playing the racism card. What Uncomfortable Truth, you might ask? Well, when it comes to a subject like Muslims, the Uncomfortable Truth is that Muslims can be extremists - but rather than face up to this Uncomfortable Truth, liberals simply Play The Racism Card when anyone dares mention it.
Littlejohn obviously wants to have his cake and eat it. He wants t o be Islamophobic without being called Islamophobic. It's the old 'I'm not racist, but...' argument.
He can manage this because he bases his ideas about people on crude stereotypes. Whenever he comes into contact with someone who doesn't fit into a neat pigeonhole, he has to do some sort of 'not like the rest of them' contortion to avoid the cognitive dissonance that would result from having reality contradict his prejudices.
That Littlejohn's article should be illustrated with photos of women with their faces covered and a male Muslim protester holding a placard saying "ISLAM WILL DOMINATE THE WORLD" is no accident, and fits in neatly with the tone of the article. Hey, I'm not anti-Muslim, but look! Here are some women with their faces covered! Here's an apparently Islamist looking angry! Come on! What more evidence do you need? Littlejohn claims to think there's a majority of decent Muslims and he's bending over backwards not to be racist, so what better way to illustrate that than with those images?
Yes, he does claim he's bending over backwards not to be racist. While saying:
Most of the Muslims I know are from Pakistani or Turkish backgrounds. What they have in common is that they all identify as Londoners. Then again, I’m fortunate to live in a part of the world where people of all races and religious persuasions rub along well.
The same can’t be said of some neighbourhoods in towns and cities, especially in the North of England, where the indigenous population has been supplanted by a hostile Muslim monoculture.
It is an incontrovertible fact that a sizeable number of Muslims pursue a separatist agenda and simply refuse to integrate into British society. Or that many mosques and madrassas in this country play host to extremist preachers of hate who aim to brainwash impressionable youngsters into joining the global jihad.
The 'indigenous population' dog whistle... the 'sizeable number of Muslims'... the 'refusal to integrate'... it has a whiff of something about it. But no, not racist. It's just those others who are refusing to integrate, pursuing the separatist agenda, it's the "incontrovertible fact" - or, as you might prefer to call it, the Uncomfortable Truth. It's not much more than a cigarette paper away from the language of the EDL/BNP types who'd tell you that some northern cities have been 'lost' to whites, but seeing as he's telling you he's not being racist, how can he be being racist? Only someone who's Playing The Racism Card would say that. He can't be saying racist things; he's told you that he's not.
Most of us don't have to bend over backwards not to be seen as racist because we don't go around saying racist things; ah, we don't go around confronting Uncomfortable Truths on behalf of our readers, though, do we? Good old crusading Littlejohn; thank goodness he's there to say the things the pansy liberals won't face up to! And no, it's not racist to point out that some Muslims are extremists; on the other hand, it is not racist to use the phrase 'indigenous population', but it's a pretty handy dog-whistle when you'd rather not say white.
I think Baroness Warsi is right to say that having a whiff of anti-Muslim sentiment is seen as acceptable. Newspapers such as the Daily Mail have made it so with a constant slew of stories emphasising a certain kind of Muslim behaviour, though they seem unwilling to take very much credit. Doubtless at those dinner tables Warsi is talking about, people will introduce the sentiment with the Littlejohnian disclaimer that they're very much not being racist; that there is just an Uncomfortable Truth to be said; that people will Play The Racism Card as much as they like. Are they fearlessly seeing things as they really are, or just playing the 'playing the racism card' card? They can deny it all they like, but I know what I think.