What Sheila Jackson Lee and Eric Cartman Have in Common

Yeah, that just happened. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) informed us all that her Republican congressional colleagues are only uneasy about raising the debt ceiling and allowing the president to spend more money we don’t have without any Democrat concession to a balanced budget amendment…because he’s black.

And it is not The Onion reporting this. Those who are familiar with Lee are aware that this insatiable impulse to carve open the long-healing wounds of America’s racially divided past is merely her signature leitmotif.

Last February, Lee took to the House to condemn a perfectly funny Super Bowl Pepsi commercial featuring a woman aggressively reprimanding her husband over his unhealthy diet yet surprising him with her lenience over his drinking Pepsi Maxx–only to throw the can at him after catching his pass on another woman and accidentally hitting the woman. Not that this would have consciously occurred to anyone other than Lee, but the couple happened to be black, thus the ad was obviously implying that all black people, you know, throw soda cans.

To be fair, Lee did begin her statement by clarifying: “Mr. Speaker I do have a sense of humor,” before explaining that she, well, has no sense of humor. (As if Pepsi hadn’t done enough by virtually emulating the Obama campaign symbol as their logo around the time of his inauguration.)

While Lee certainly has a reputation for screaming at her black staffers with such charming epithets as “stupid idiot,” “foolish girl” and “stupid motherfucker,” at least none have claimed to have had cans thrown at them.

In June 2003, the Harris County Republican Party of Texas sent an e-mail inviting its members to a redistricting hearing, including a photograph of Lee captioned with the words “She will be there to express her views. Will you be there to express yours?” Because the e-mail happened to include a photograph of Lee, and that in this photograph, she was black, Lee railed that their inclusion of the photo was “proof that the Republicans created this redistricting plan to disenfranchise African-Americans,” accusing them of “playing the race card.” So should they have photoshopped her skin color out of the image, so as not to play “the race card”?

In July 2010, at an NAACP “Legislative Workshop,” Lee delivered a laughter-and-applause-sign-cuing riff: I’m going to be engaging you with those very powerful numbers that you have offered on what the tea party recognizes, uh, or is recognized as. Might I add my own P.S.? All those who wore sheets a long time ago have now lifted them off and started wearing, uh, clothing, uh, with a name, say, I am part of the tea party.”

It is, of course, difficult to discern whether the content of this statement was more offensive to tea partiers than its delivery was to comedians.

On March 5, 2010, eight employees including Principal Mable Caleb were fired after surveillance cameras at Key Middle School in Houston captured employees stealing equipment and a report found evidence of test cheating, unauthorized fundraising and no accounting of the money. Not that this would occur to anyone except Lee, but Caleb was black, and thus Lee deemed this a “witch hunt” and advised investigating superindent Terry Grier to “back off.” (The district subsequently ended the investigation before any soda cans were thrown.)

On October 14, 2009, during Rush Limbaugh’s efforts to buy the St. Louis Rams, Lee took to the House floor to denounce Rush Limabaugh as “not the kind of owner the NFL needs.” Calling him “divisive,” Lee contended that Limbaugh “does not represent the fullness of appreciation of athletes of all diverse backgrounds.” Lee cited Limbaugh’s comments about quarterback Donovan McNabb being possibly over-elevated due to his being black. We have yet to hear Lee’s condemnations from those on her side of the aisle who had just the same to say about Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, Michael Steele, and others.

Lee concluded by explaining that Limbaugh is “not someone who brings people together.” You know, like accusing your colleagues of complicating the debt ceiling issue out of racism.

In August 2003, Lee stopped just short of demanding affirmative action for hurricanes. Feeling that hurricane names such as “Iris,” “Isidore,” and “Lenny” are too “lily white,” Lee insisted that “all racial groups should be represented,” demanding that weather officials “try to be inclusive of African-American names.” Perhaps Lee would have been consoled had someone informed her that hurricanes, in fact, are notoriously liable to throw things (including soda cans), and thus the attribution of “African-American” names could be “offensive.”

Sadly, it is often difficult not to ascribe several Democrats’ infatuation–with filing dissent from opposition into a racial context to bypass the intimidating prospect of actual intelligent debate–to a perverse nostalgia for the era in which political battles were literally fought in the nightmarish theaters of racial division.

It is also often comically reminiscent of a brilliant episode of South Park in which Eric Cartman gleefully bounces through the school halls shouting “Race War! Race War!” at the advent of a rivalry between Stan Marsh and a black classmate.


Yet despite the comedic implications of many “progressives,” their seemingly deliberate efforts to regress America back to racial division, cheapen the historic realities of actual racism for political profit, exploit the tragic past for expediency, and malign opposition with the very worst accusations one can be served in this country, is far from funny.

I hereby offer a challenge to the gentlelady from Texas: While we the people sit around hoping for you and your fellow elected representatives to come together and agree on a solution that doesn’t result in our elderly and disabled missing their social security checks come August while keeping our nearly GDP-eclipsing, and burgeoning debt in mind, we hear a lot from your party about the “divisive” tactics of your Republican colleagues. Please explain how spraying them with the most toxic form of malignment–the accusation of racism–is any antidote to this alleged “divisiveness.”

You see, it is quite convenient to call an abstract conglomerate of persons “racist.” But perhaps, as a collectivist, you don’t realize, as we individualists do, that you are literally claiming that your very colleagues, whom you show up every day to work with, harbor the most vile, evil, sociopathic, and borderline paranormal hatred in their hearts–that which we call racism. I challenge you to either consider a healthy future for constructive discourse in this country despite its nightmarish past and apologize for your statement–OR–own it, stand by it, and please, point out to us which individual colleagues of yours–who are mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, husbands, wives, grandmothers and grandfathers–are vile, evil, sociopathic, borderline paranormally hateful racists.

As much as “progressive” elites such as Lee like to flatter themselves about their commitment to delivering America from racial division, they will not let go. Four decades after Republicans passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and freedom lovers took to the Selma streets to sing “We Shall Overcome,” scores of Democrats refuse to overcome. They need racial division. Telling them the spirit of Jim Crow is not lurking behind every corner is like breaking it to a child that Santa Clause doesn’t exist. (This is assuming they have figured that one out by now.)

While it is safe to say that most Americans are colorblind, this “progressive” congresswoman’s literally black and white viewfinder achieves precisely the opposite of progressing us beyond our sordid past, but resembles more a deliberate insistence on kicking the can of racial division further down the road.

At least she’s not throwing it at anyone.

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