It’s baaaaaaack! Racism, and in a big way. Many voters thought that the election of Barack Obama as president would usher in a new era where race or racial considerations would not be considered political or societal litmus tests.
Obama’s election was supposed to be the harbinger of the age of which Martin Luther King dreamt, one where his “children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
Unfortunately, we are in a period where race is being used as the first line of attack against those with whom the attackers disagree politically.
I partially attribute this to the abandonment of the “melting pot” theory of America in favor of the “quilt” theory, which enshrines diversity and multiculturalism as the ultimate societal goal. High school and college students are mandated to take diversity courses, taking time away from more basic courses.
No longer do we have the wonderful amalgam of our parents’ generation. We are no longer Americans, but hyphenated Americans, whether we like it or not. Political correctness has us stumbling over our feet and twisting our tongues as never before.
Descriptions of different cultural groups seem to constantly change, causing the politically correct to try to keep pace. This is most noticeable in referring to the African American and Latino communities. All this tends to make us more race sensitive than probably necessary.
Black economist and commentator Thomas Sowell of the Hoover Institute ran a wonderful four-part series at the end of June on words we are likely to hear in an election year; words that are “not always clear.”
One of those words is “racism,” writes Sowell, “especially if the public opinion polls are going against President Barack Obama.”
As an example, Sowell wrote, “Former big-time TV journalist Sam Donaldson and current fledgling CNN host Don Lemon have already proclaimed racism to be the reason for criticisms of Obama, and we can expect more and more talking heads to say the same thing as the election campaign goes on. The word ‘racism’ is like ketchup. It can be put on practically anything — and demanding evidence makes you a ‘racist.’”
In the past weeks, we have seen many examples of the truth of Sowell’s observation.
Let’s take an unlikely source: Morgan Freeman. Earlier this month, in an interview on NPR’s Tell Me More, Freeman noted that Obama’s mother was a “very white American, Kansas, middle of America. As a result, the actor said of Obama, “He’s not America’s first black president — he’s America’s first mixed-race president.”
All those celebrating Obama as the first black president are wrong, according to Freeman. Perhaps novelist Toni Morrison, who called Bill Clinton the “first black president,” would agree. So might Bill Maher, who has joked that Obama is not black enough.
Then we have the comments that followed Republican Mitt Romney’s appearance before the NAACP.
The news reports were quick to point out that Romney got booed. They were not so quick to point out that, according to pictures, more people attended Romney’s speech than that of VP Joe Biden.
Did you know that Romney went to the NAACP convention specifically to be booed? That’s what Obama supporters like House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell suggest. To Pelosi, it was a “calculated move.” The Romney campaign deliberately provoked the boos because, as Mr. O’Donnell put it, “they want the video of their candidate being booed by the NAACP to play in certain racist precincts.” One of those provocations was Romney’s use of the word “Obamacare.”
Romney is a “race-mongering pyromaniac” to Michael Tomasky, at The Daily Beast. “Romney and team obviously concluded that a little shower of boos was perfectly fine because the story ‘Romney Booed at NAACP’ would jazz up their (very white) base.”
Over at The New York Times, Charles Blow suspected Romney of a “hidden agenda,” “designed not for the audience in the room, but for those in Republican living rooms.”
At The Washington Post, Jonathan Capehart wrote, “when you’re booed by a group that everyone knows is not in your corner and you push back, as Romney did, the home crowd (read the Republican base) will rally around and cheer.”
“Anti-racists” like to accuse their foes of using code words to disguise racism. Here, Romney’s critics are using “Republican” as a code word for white and racist. That is bigotry.
We have a president with a known record and policies. We have a presumptive opponent with a known record and policies which differ from the president’s. That should be the nature and level of debate. Racial and ad hominem epithets should not be a part of the campaign, which has another four months to go. There is enough which divides us politically. We should not retrogress by throwing unwarranted charges of racism into the mix.