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Play the race card

Posted by Bob on August 31, 2000

In Reply to: Play the race card posted by Tom Wharton on August 31, 2000

: "Play the race card" has been variously identified as a recent invention and as a coinage of the 1960s. Does anyone have a citation earlier than 1996?

I don't have a specific citation at hand, but I remember the phrase well from the '60s and '70s, along with variations, such as Nixon "playing the China card." Some commentator a few years later questioned why China chose to "play the American card," which was (for me, anyway) a thought-provoking idea.Someone (Safire, perhaps?) might have a text reference.