Without Noah Webster’s knowledge, the definition of a “racist” has been diluted and redefined to mean “a person who disagrees with a liberal,” or in more explicit terms, “any individual who uses logic to divulge evidence of liberal malfeasance.” For years, the left has used race as a bully tactic to smear and debunk those on the receiving end of the label. This desperate and exploitative attempt at winning political arguments comes at a great cost to democracy, interpersonal relations and our nation’s internal progress.
The latest James O’Keefe saga exemplifies the left’s common practice of exploiting the issue of race for personal and political gain. Liberal journalist Max Blumenthal’s devoid-of-logic theoretical construct (that O’Keefe is a racist) exemplifies the desperate measures some will take to avoid the pains of reality. Blumenthal bases his racism charge on O’Keefe’s alleged disdain for affirmative action, his efforts to expose ACORN and his attendance at an event that featured a “white nationalist.”
The merits of these accusations have already been brilliantly challenged by Larry O’Connor and others, but to quickly provide summary thoughts: Opposition to affirmative action is not inherently racist. In fact, the majority of Americans oppose affirmative action practices. Furthermore, even if O’Keefe is a racist (which he’s not), the allegations against ACORN would still be pertinent; the organization is responsible for its behavior regardless of who or what O’Keefe is said to be. Finally, the “white nationalist” event was essentially a panel discussion on a college campus. Thousands of universities hold events with controversial speakers and wingnuts (many of these fringe individuals are, themselves, college professors); mere attendance means nothing in itself.
What’s ironic is that those waging extremist charges against O’Keefe are the same individuals who had no problem with Barack Obama’s working relationship with former domestic-terrorist Bill Ayers. And let’s not forget Obama’s commiserating with Rev. Wright, a radical former pastor who has publicly stated his belief that the U.S. government created AIDS in an effort to murder African Americans. One would hardly call Ayers’ students (ironically, he’s a professor) unrepentant terrorists merely for showing up to class, nor would one unequivocally compare an attendee’s beliefs to that of the event speaker. Blumenthal’s weak corroborative evidence is rooted in quicksand.
The logic behind this frequently-used bully tactic is actually quite easy to follow. When the left starts flinging charges of racism when race plays no legitimate factor in a given situation, it generally means the individual on the receiving end has pinched an ideological nerve. Rather than debating issues on their merits, “claiming racism” is a strategy through which leftists may turn attention away from viable debate. This cycle has been standard for decades.
As liberals like Blumenthal continue to exploit race, their hypocrisy is deafening. The Democrats’ past and current historical constructs expose a party that is more than guilty of the racial charges it so regularly wages. Consider just a few of the comments, both past and present, that have come from the left:
When speaking about Obama as a potential presidential candidate, Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) called him:
…a ‘light skinned’ African-American ‘with no Negro dialect,’ unless he wanted to have one.
And who can forget Joe Biden’s eloquent pre-campaign analysis of Obama: “I mean, you got the first mainstream African American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.”
And then there’s Al Gore’s former campaign manager, Donna Brazile. According to Brazile:
Republicans bring out Colin Powell and J.C. Watts because they have no program, no policy. They have no love and no joy. They’d rather take pictures with black children than feed them.
Last, but not least, was Lyndon B. Johnson’s alleged statement: “I’ll have those [insert “n-word”] voting Democratic for the next 200 years.”
And these are only a few examples. When it comes to “claiming racism,” the left needs to stop playing the dangerous game of “kettle or pot.” History undoubtedly shows the Republican Party’s staunch support for civil rights and the Democratic Party’s startling disregard for these same egalitarian tenets. After all, it was the GOP’s own Abraham Lincoln who freed the slaves and began the painful process of social reconstruction. This history is essential to understanding how racial charges based on party affiliation are inaccurate, especially considering the Democratic Party’s dark civil rights history.
Take, for instance, the 1860 Republican Party platform, which made significant statements against the spread of slavery. The following was written in the declaration:
That the normal condition of all the territory of the United States is that of freedom; That as our Republican fathers, when they had abolished Slavery in all our national territory, ordained that “no person should be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law,” it becomes our duty, by legislation, whenever such legislation is necessary, to maintain this provision of the Constitution against all attempts to violate it; and we deny the authority of Congress, of a territorial legislature, or of any individuals, to give legal existence to Slavery in any Territory of the United States.
Additionally, the platform had the following to say about the African Slave Trade:
…the recent re-opening of the African slave-trade, under the cover of our national flag, aided by perversions of judicial power, as a crime against humanity and a burning shame to our country and age; and we call upon Congress to take prompt and efficient measures for the total and final suppression of that execrable traffic.
These same sentiments are reflected, with stronger emphasis, in the Republicans’ 1984 platform, with the Democrats managing to ignore the words “slave” and “slavery” altogether (their 1860 party platform made no declarative statement to protect the slaves). Furthermore, it was the Republicans who introduced and ensured passage of the Civil Rights Acts of 1866 and 1875. Perhaps Bruce Bartlett said it best when he wrote the following:
[The Democrats] were openly and explicitly for slavery before the Civil War, supported lynching and “Jim Crow” laws after the war, and regularly defended segregation and white supremacy throughout most of the 20th century.
Undoubtedly, any and all political parties can have racist adherents, as racism crosses cultural and ideological boundaries. That in mind, both recent and historical events should, at the least, cause liberals to think twice before making hypocritical claims. Furthermore, Blumenthal and his minions would do well to build arguments based on fact and ideological flow, rather than resorting to base and inflammatory accusations. Utilizing race as a tool to disarm the opposing party’s micro-arguments is a weak-minded and dangerous strategy.
In terms of contemporary analysis, this piece in no way attempts to support the notion that racism no longer exists; that’s just silly. American society, both past and present, has been gravely stained by horrific acts of hate and racially-motivated suppression. That said, the left’s shameful tactics constitute an assault on civility, racial unity and the practice of practical discussion and debate. Shameful, inappropriate and counterproductive.