When Did The Term "racist" Turn Into A Political Tactic?

by Bruno Korschek - Date: 2010-09-30 - Word Count: 1548 Share This!

I had always thought that being a racist was a bad thing. The dictionary defines a racist as someone who expresses "hatred or intolerance of another race or races." In my understanding, a racist considered a certain set of people to ALL have the same negative or undesirable characteristics, without exception. Hate, intolerance, stereotyping some people as being all the same without considering, respecting, and celebrating the individual, all very nasty stuff.

But now I am not so sure my understanding of what constitutes a racist is correct any more. These days, it seems you are a racist by simply disagreeing with someone, especially if you disagree with a politician. Consider the following examples:

- In early April, 2010, New York Congressman Charles Rangel, during the debate leading up to the passing of Obama's health care reform legislation, said: "The group that were in Washington fighting against the health bill and fighting against the President, they looked just like and sounded just like those groups that attacked the civil rights movement in the South."

- Around the same time, also in relation to the opposition to Obama's health care legislation, Texas Congresswoman Shelia Jackson Lee said: "All those who wore sheets a long time ago lifted them off to wear tea party clothing." (an obvious reference to the virulent racism exhibited by the Ku Klux Klan)

- According to an Orlando Sentinel online article, Florida Congressman Alan Grayson recently said on a radio show that: "These are people who were wearing sheets over their heads 25 years ago." (another reference to the Klan and in response to the questioner stating that those attending the Glen Beck rally were" mostly old, white, mostly McCain-Palin leftovers.")

- When Arizona passed its illegal immigration law in the spring, there were numerous accusations that those supporting the toughened enforcement requirements of the law were racists and against Latinos.

- Recently there were two dueling rallies in southern Manhattan, one supporting the construction of the Muslim mosque on the current site and one calling for it to be moved some distance away from the Ground Zero 9-11 site. The Associated Press article covering the events quoted one of the people at the rally supporting the mosque at the current site. In her opinion, those against building the mosque on its current site were racists.

So let me see if I get this right. In this new world:

- You are a racist if you honestly disagree with the passing of a piece of legislation such as Obama Care even though you have serious doubts of whether it will work or not since it never addressed the underlying core problems of rising health care costs, it is becoming even more obvious that it will increase the Federal deficit, and it will criminalize millions of Americans if they do not purchase health care insurance as mandated by the political class. In this case, you can be a racist without expressing hate or intolerance of another race or races, you just have to disagree with a piece of legislation.

- You are a racist if you attend a political rally whose ideals and principles are in conflict with a politicians' view of the world. In this case, you can be a racist without expressing hate or intolerance of another race or races, you just have to attend the "wrong" political rally.

- You are a racist if you are old or if you are white. Not only did the talk show host above make this insinuation, but many on the left side of main stream media have made that same assertion. In this case, you can be a racist without expressing hatred or intolerance of another race or races, you just have to be light skinned and a senior citizen.

- You are a racist if you are concerned about the human trafficking and drug smuggling going on across the Mexico border with the U.S. and the potential for violence and crime that comes with it. In this case, you can be a racist without expressing hatred and intolerance of another race or races, you just have to be concerned about your safety and the safety of your family from illegal immigration.

- You are a racist if you are against a state law that is trying to protect the safety of its citizens in light of the inability of the Federal government to both control illegal immigration or come up with a coherent, rational immigration plan. In this case, you can be a racist without expressing hatred and intolerance of another race or races, you just have to object that the Federal government is not doing its job in the illegal immigration arena.

- You are a racist if you are a relative of someone who died in the 9-11 attacks and have asked for a little compassion and understanding that building the mosque close to Ground Zero would be very difficult for these relatives to cope with, given what they experienced on that Tuesday nine years ago and would appreciate it if the mosque was moved a little further away. In this case you can be a racist without expressing hatred and intolerance of another race or races, you just have to ask for a little compassion and understanding of what Ground Zero means to you personally.

Wow, I think I got it now. Objecting to government policy, attending a political rally, being old, being light skinned, and asking for some compassion now make you a racist. My, how the world has changed.

Dr. Martin Luther King would be so out of place today. He thought, as did I, that a racist actually was an individual that displayed irrational hate and intolerance of another race or races, that a racist stereotyped all members of a race as having the same negative traits, that a racist could never view an individual for their personal traits and assets. Back in 1963, Dr. King said: "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." Dr. King felt that once content of character was the only judgment of an individual, we would emerge from the abyss of racism.

Today's politicians would disagree with Dr. King. We have allowed our politicians to define anyone or any group of Americans as racists who disagree with their view of the world. Consider some more words from Dr. King's speech and how far we have strayed from his advice by naming anyone with a different opinion as a racist: "In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline." Our current politicians do not drink from the mere cup of bitterness and hatred, they drink directly from the keg of bitterness and hatred. If any of them achieved a high plane of dignity and discipline, most would probably faint from attaining such lofty principles for the first time in their political lives.

Why do politicians act like this, using whatever despicable descriptions and accusations they can to divide America along racial, religious, political, sexual orientation, wealth, and other demarcation lines? They do it to get elected over and over, without concern as to what it is doing to the fabric of the country. It is more important to "energize their base" then it is to solve the problems facing the country. If the other side gets branded as a racists, that's fine, as long as they get elected. There is no dignity, there is no discipline, only the breeding of hatred and intolerance, which really makes them the present day racists, not the American citizens honestly voicing their concerns on issues that affect them and their families.

Before closing out, please take the following quiz to test your ability to identify the racist:

Who stated that President Obama was "a light skinned African American...with no Negro dialect unless he wanted to have one." Was it:

a) Sarah Palin
b) Rush Limbaugh
c) Sean Hannity
d) Glen Beck
e) Bill O'Reilly
f) None of the above.

If you selected f), you are correct. The statement was actually made by Nevada Democratic Senator Harry Reid. Talk about a racist comment, attributing a man's skin color and his way of speaking to his race. Thus, the people we have in office even stoop so low to degrade and debase their fellow politicians along racial lines, imagine what they think of those that have a different opinion from their positions.

There is only one way to get out of this rut and elevate the political discussion to the levels Dr. King pined for back in the 1960s. Come November, all incumbents must go and be replaced with individuals that celebrate diversity, recognize the individual, and will focus on solving our problems and not "energizing their bases." Longer term, we must institute Step 39 from "Love My Country, Loathe My Government," a step that would institute term limits on all Federal politicians. Only then will be able to return the word racists to its former despicable place in the world and remove it as an election and campaign tactic.

Related Tags: racism, obama, racist, rangel shelia lee jackson, ground zero mosque

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