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Rated "R," for "Racist" By: Alan Nathan
FrontPageMagazine.com | Thursday, June 29, 2006

If you falsely use the race card, you become the racist, because you have used race to marginalize the innocent. Recently, three high-profile events of differing importance have emblematically clarified this growing phenomenon.

First, Georgia Democratic Representative Cynthia McKinney claimed that when caught violating security protocols, the Capitol Hill cop stopping her wasn’t trying to preempt her continued infraction as much as he was targeting her because she is an “African American, female progressive.”

The second is tied to the Immigration Reform debate and the ongoing assertion by the Left, and many Hispanic leaders, that supporters of sealing up our borders are racists by virtue of that position held.

And third, the Congressional Black Caucus’ position that Louisiana Congressman Democrat William Jefferson was kicked off the House Ways and Means Committee because he’s black, and not because there’s video footage of him accepting a bribe that was later found in his home freezer. If sophistry were booze, the courts would put these folks on a “twelve-step.”

Think about it. If it’s wrong to assume guilt based on ethnicity, isn’t it equally wrong to shield guilt based on ethnicity? With the former, you’re wrongfully lowering that group’s status. With the latter, you’re wrongfully lowering every other group’s status by elevating your own to do harm with impunity. This demeans the true battle against racism.

When examining the Cynthia McKinney fiasco, the events are a little more self-evident, and she has since apologized…sort of. However, the Left’s posturing on the Immigration Reform issue has a few more layers. Roll Call, a Capitol Hill newspaper, reported in March that Illinois Democrat Representative Luis Gutierrez referred to Colorado Republican Representative Tom Tancredo as a racist and likened him to a member of the KKK because of his advocacy for tighter borders and better enforcement of existing immigration laws. Though Gutierrez is wrong about Tancredo, he has accurately argued that there are fire-breathing bigots using the illegal immigration issue as a cover for more nefarious ends. However, he forgets that there is a far greater majority of non-xenophobic Americans also calling for stronger border security. Why should the proportionately few racists who want the same thing be allowed to de-legitimize an otherwise valid demand. Since when should credible arguments be dismissed just because they might be used inappropriately by those of ill will? If both a good man and a criminal say that we need to be more supportive of stem-cell research, how is that position weakened just because the criminal concurs?

There is a difference between issues relevant to racial conflict and issues relevant to conflict that just happens between people not of the same race? A black man and a white man can have the same disagreement over a given issue as might two blacks, whites, Hispanics, Asians, Middle Easterners or American Indians! But if the participants happen to be of two different ethnicities, watch out, racial conflict is surely afoot. Bite me.

Here’s a test for gauging whether or not you’re a bona fide soldier of equality: If you’re truly free of bigotry and racism, you would embrace the fiancé of your daughter, son, sister, brother, widowed or divorced mother or father regardless of that fiancé’s race, ethnicity, religion, national origin or sexual persuasion. The only legitimate reservation you might have would be based on your sense of that person’s lacking decency, heart, and affection toward the loved one in question.


In our politically charged environment today, it’s so easy to project motives of racism against those simply having views contrary to our own on policy matters. This has become an inherent part of the larger cancer afflicting modern day discourse – political correctness. Its core flaw is that it takes imposed guidelines of communication and places them at the mercy of interpretation instead of intent.


Somebody says something that another dislikes and too easily the listener can falsely claim a perceived offense regardless of the speaker’s content. Perceptions are illegitimate without corresponding foundation. You can’t say, “I perceive, therefore it is.” This very often allows those with weaker arguments to get the upper hand by fallaciously attaching to the speaker ulterior agendas having not the least infinitesimal relevance to the alleged slight.


And this disease is not restricted to matters of race. Those on the far-Right and Left are guilty of it when protecting their favorite passions. From the Right’s perspective, if you’re against the Ten Commandments on the walls of school, it’s because you’re more anti-religion than for the separation of church and state. From the Left’s view, if you oppose partial birth abortion (dilation and extraction), it’s because you’re more against women than pro saving a life that’s already 85 percent out of the mother when the termination is performed. 

There is a remedy. Unencumbered speech. But it requires a willingness from all of us to attack sacred cows: minorities can be wrong about race, whites can be wrong about history, women can be wrong about sexism, and men can be wrong about war. ABC’s John Stossel once reported years ago in a piece about feminism, “the differences between us as groups are far exceeded by the differences between us as individuals.” It’s an observation that should be applied to all demographics of every conceivable kind.

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Alan Nathan, a combative centrist and "militant moderate," a columnist, and the nationally syndicated talk show host of "Battle Line With Alan Nathan" on the Radio America Network.

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