A race card up his sleeve
By Alisa Craddock
When the Jacksonville Jaguars were a new team, there was a gifted, but arrogant young black player named Andre Rison who was fired from the team for, among other things, having an on-field confrontation with the team's quarterback, Mark Brunell. He went on to redeem himself for Green Bay, who went on to win the Super Bowl, but terminations plagued him throughout his career. I was watching the news the day he was let go, and the news reporter approached two young black women and asked what they thought about Rison's termination. "Coach Coughlin wants an all white team," the first one said. "Yeah," said the other. "It's racism."
I remember seething with anger at the charge. Coughlin had recruited many fine black players, and they were adored by the fans. Coughlin wanted talent and teamwork, and apparently the latter was lacking with this particular young man. So he was let go. There was nothing racial about it.
But it goes to the larger issue of the use of the racism charge whenever a white person disagrees with, fires, arrests, injures or kills a black person, regardless of the circumstances. It is a source of gnawing anger among whites that they may not oppose or disagree with a black politician or other black leader, or criticize any aspect of black culture, or resist the divisive "diversity" programs that are used to indoctrinate them in school without being charged with racism. As I reported in an earlier column, the University of Delaware last year enacted an orientation program that attempted to compel all white freshman students to admit they were racist purely by virtue of their race and "privilege", with remedial programs required for those who refused. (If a white person is comfortable with the "status quo", it is considered racism.) People are so sensitive to being accused of racism that they are cowed into silence when they would otherwise be loudly indignant. The double standard of conduct this situation has created feeds that anger like a bellows on a slow burning flame.
In a way it is understandable that black Americans would reflexively inject race into every interaction. It's power, and to a people who feel powerless, it keeps the issue alive. But it becomes a crutch, an excuse for every failure, a justification for every transgression. I remember an interview with a black conservative I heard some years ago (he was a leader of BOND—the Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny) who said, "If the Jews had waited for anti-Semitism to end, they'd still be in the ghettos of Warsaw." Racists are with us always, and blacks have sometimes been denied their Constitutional rights by racist action, but there is an implication in black politics that somehow the Constitution itself is racist (sexist, elitist, etc), so the government based on it must also be so, and white Democrats are content to encourage them to believe it.
I have heard the charge of racism hurled so many times that it has become an exasperating joke, like the boy who cried wolf. It just comes across as childish and irresponsible. There are no doubt instances of authentic racism, and when they happen, they outrage everyone, black and white. But very often the cases that garner national attention are merely trumped up accusations having no substance, but that inflame and manipulate the populace. They feed the anger on both sides, but for different reasons. This is the great communication divide between blacks and whites—if there is a lack of understanding of the black experience on the part of whites, and some discomfort at dealing with racial issues, it is also fair to say that blacks aren't comfortable looking in the mirror regarding the social consequences of their culture and behavior. When whites want to talk about these issues from an objective standpoint, blacks want to talk about them from the standpoint of their feelings, and feelings, though they cannot be dismissed in the arena in which they belong, are not a solid foundation for sound political, economic, or social decision making, which arises from examining objective rather than subjective criteria. Being "offended" is simply too selective and manipulative a basis for the formation of public policy, but has become (in a land with a proud tradition of First Amendment rights) at tool of people with dictatorial ambitions (Socialists) to silence opposing political viewpoints and rob their adherents of power.
In the Firing Line debate, "Resolved: Political Correctness is a Menace and a Bore", Linda Greene of the Univ. of Wisconsin Law School insisted that Political Correctness was a term invented by the Right that they used to divert the need for dialogue about real issues (racism), turning it into a discussion about political correctness instead. Everyone on both sides of the debate agreed that racial epithets and other uncivil behavior was not acceptable. At his summation, however, Mr. Buckley made the point that while Dr. Cornell West had spoken repeatedly that 51% of blacks live in poverty he had not mentioned that a child born to a single parent is 600% more likely to grow up in poverty, and that 62% of black children were born to single mothers.
The camera immediately shot to Dr. Greene, who was seen rolling her eyes in exasperation, which only affirmed the point that unless you accept the liberal orthodoxy on the subject (all problems in the black community arise from white oppression and racism), it is taboo to speak of it. It is impossible to discuss any problems in the black community as long as every statistic, every analysis, every criticism is blamed on "racism" or "white oppression", which is the catch-all for every black failure. You cannot have an objective discussion on the issue of race because it is politically incorrect to suggest that any problems in the black community have anything to do with black culture or behavior rather than racism and white oppression. Blacks never have to assume responsibility for their own problems. The unpleasant fact is that before AFDC, the unwed pregnancy rate among blacks was much lower, and that it is liberal nanny state policies that have created the childlike dependency on the Federal government. If a white points any of this out, he's a racist. If a black says it, he's an Uncle Tom. The NAACP and other organs of black leadership have a vested interest in discouraging the black community from signing on to the self- reliance that white folks view as the American way, and so do the Democrats. This is the real division between whites and blacks.
This is why Barack Obama is seen as such a threat by many whites. He's the quintessential "big government" type politician. He views America through the prism of black liberal, nanny state politics. It is true that he is half white, but his identity, his soul, is African. Right now he is running somewhat ahead in the polls. That's not surprising. Our country is so closely divided between those who lean left and those who lean right that a little bounce on either side can put the other over the top. But it's not about race, it is a race--a political race, between two parties as ideologically different as night is from day. But because blacks expect whites to accept racism as the core of their problems, they naturally expect that rejection of Obama is racism.
The racism charge keeps popping up, first with Bill Clinton's accusation that Obama had pulled the "race card" on him, and more recently with Alcee Hastings even finding a way to suggest there is racism in Sarah Palin's moose hunting. How can conservatives have a rational conversation with somebody like that? How can anybody? Then there was that article by Jacob Weisberg stating that racism is the only reason McCain could win against Obama. And this week, when Sarah Palin remarked about Obama's palling around with terrorist William Ayers, the racism charge came again. And it just keeps coming.
I believe that up until now, John McCain, too much of a gentleman to attack Obama personally, has perhaps also shied away from it because he knows (and it has now been amply demonstrated) that Mr. Obama will level the racism charge at him and Palin, or his operatives will. Also, he may feel that if he wants cooperation from Congress, either as president or senator, he cannot trash his opponents. Meanwhile Obama plays the "aggrieved innocent", wanting to talk about the "issues", while John McCain just wants to engage in the personal attacks. This is perhaps the most illustrative example of how the charge of "racism" obscures and obstructs any deeper discussion we might have about the issues that divide the nation, or even the personal issues Americans need to be aware of to make informed decisions. That Barack Obama happens to be black is only a small part, if any, of the reasons people might reject him. Given the climate of "crying wolf" and the seething anger it evokes for being a catch-all for every ideological difference, the charge of "racism" in this instance, as in others, becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. For many who might vote for a black man who stands up for the rights of all the people, would turn away from one who invokes the "race card", because it represents "black politics" at its most divisive and infuriating. He loses the trust of white voters by showing his cards. But there are plenty of good reasons to reject Barack Obama as a candidate, and crying "racism" will not suppress them nor exonerate him.
1) First, he's a radical liberal. A socialist. A One Million a Day Big Spender. America is a constitutional republic. Under Obama, it is likely to be transformed, perhaps irreparably, into a socialist state, much like those of Europe. We are already seeing a tremendous decline in our vitality, our strength and world respect. We are losing it all, because we are so deeply divided--each side has such a radically different view of what America should be, that nothing gets done, or what does get done usually slides us a little more down into the abyss.
2) He's pro-abortion. No exceptions. He even voted to refuse medical care to born-alive infants rather than recognize their personhood, because it threatened abortion rights. If he's elected he will be choosing judges and Supreme Court Justices in the mold of Ruth Bader Ginsberg, a radical liberal.
3) He's pro-homosexual. He has said he will use the presidency as a bully pulpit to get "gay rights" legislation passed. If it becomes law, homosexual friendly materials will be required reading in your children's textbooks, starting in Kindergarten.
4) He has many dubious associations—William Ayers, the unrepentant terrorist bomber. Tony Rezko, convicted on corruption charges with whom he himself had ethically questionable dealings, the racist Rev. Jeremiah Wright, his pastor of 20 years, and his mentor, Frank Marshall Davis, a known communist.
5) He is associated with ACORN as a community organizer. ACORN is the organization that has repeatedly been involved in voter fraud, and is currently under investigation in several states for even more. ACORN has been named as a primary culprit in the mortgage crisis that precipitated the economic calamity we are now immersed in. ACORN got lots of government funding. Obama also instructed volunteers for ACORN and provided legal counsel.
6) There are serious questions about his citizenship, and eligibility to be president of this country under our Constitution.
7) There are serious questions regarding whether he received foreign campaign contributions, currently being investigated. He seems to have myriad ties to persons of Middle Eastern descent, and a school registration certificate in Indonesia listed him as a Muslim. Hmmm, and he says he does not speak any foreign languages.
8) Along with the drumbeat of "racism", there is Obama's instructions to his supporters to "argue with [his opponents] and get in their face," which seems intended to intimidate people. There have been more than a few veiled warnings of race riots, one rather stark from James Carville last week, especially since the suggestion has already been advanced that if Obama is not elected, it will be because of racism.
9) Most disturbing of all Obama's activities is his use of legal threats to silence his opponents. For example, when Sarah Palin was asked to speak at the rally to protest Ahmadinejad, Hillary Clinton refused to appear with her. Palin was then disinvited after the Jewish group sponsoring the event was warned that they could lose their tax exempt status if they allowed her to speak. But anyone who is not deeply disturbed by the threat of legal action he attempted to use in Missouri is asleep at the wheel. The governor of that state, Matt Blount, issued a statement when he learned of the threat, saying that Obama and his operatives "have attached the stench of police state tactics to the Obama-Biden campaign.
The governor concluded the statement by saying that Barack Obama needed to grow up. Though his statement (excerpted above) to this point reflected an accurate and frightening description of what Obama was attempting to do, I think it is far more forboding than simply an immaturity problem. Though Obama and his people have backed off their threat of legal action against Obama detractors, the fact that he even tried it, I believe, tells us what we might expect from an Obama presidency. Imagine such a man with his operatives in all the key positions of power in government. What if he has a Democrat majority to back him up? What if he were to sign an executive order giving himself dictatorial powers in the event of a national crisis of some sort? Bill Clinton tried it (E.O. 13083), but at the last minute, Congress voted it down.
In addition to all of this, he has the most liberal, spend-happy record in the entire senate, and is tainted by the financial crunch by virtue of his having received more money than anyone except Chris Dodd from the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac juggernaut. Any one of these by itself are sufficient to find him objectionable as a candidate for the Presidency, but combined they are damning evidence of, at best, poor judgment and naiveté, at worst, a dictatorship waiting to happen. A man is what he does, not what he says he will do. Since the beginning, Obama has continually remanufactured and repackaged himself, denying his associations, changing his positions, so that middle class white voters will believe that a $1M a day big government spender who has never found a liberal position he didn't support, is now a line item veto thoughtful moderate. Are we to believe he will suddenly transformed into a man of the people, this man who voted the most left-wing position in every instance on social, military, and economic issues? If I don't believe him, does that make me a racist, or just not as stupid as he thinks I am?
Racism is deeply offensive, but no more offensive than calling someone a "racist" for ideological disagreement. Maybe we should start referring to the "R" word like we do the "N" word.
Alisa Craddock is a columnist and activist in the culture war, a convert to Catholicism, and describes herself as a Christian Libertarian. She may be contacted at alisa.craddock at hushmail.com.