Honest Conversation About Race? Not When Motives Are Dishonestly Attacked

Several people have written great pieces about the issue of race in the wake of the Zimmerman trial. RB Pundit writes about his own experience with bigotry. Charles W. Cooke as he almost always does, writes a fantastic piece debunking the notion we still live an Emmett Till era and Rich Lowry writes many people conveniently ignore cold hard facts about issues related to crime with regard to the “conversation.”

There’s been a host of talk about an “honest conversation about race” coming from different quarters in the wake of the Zimmerman verdict. Honestly, I’m not even sure what an “honest conversation about race” is. The blame for that falls largely on those who have no intention of being honest about the subject.

When President Obama was elected in 2008 there was a bunch of talk about the United States being in a “post-racial” era:

Post-racial began to come into vogue after Obama won the Iowa caucuses and faired well in the New Hampshire primary.

 

The Economist called it a post-racial triumph and wrote that Obama seemed to embody the hope that America could transcend its divisions. The New Yorker wrote of a post-racial generation and indeed, the battle-scarred veterans of the civil rights conflict of 40 years ago seemed less enchanted with Obama than those who were not yet alive then. Ambassador Andrew Young, a one-time aide to Martin Luther King, argued that former President Bill Clinton was every bit as black as Senator Obama.

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Barack Obama has succeeded brilliantly in casting his candidacy — indeed, his whole life — as post-racial. Even before the votes have been cast, he has written a glorious coda for the civil rights struggle that provided this nation with many of the finest, and also most horrible, moments of its past 150 years. If the results confirm that race was not a decisive factor in the balloting, generations of campaigners for racial justice and equality will have seen their work vindicated.

This didn’t last long. President Obama, once he took office, began to outline proposals and policies that many Republicans and conservatives opposed.

And the accusations of racism started. 

It came early, starting with Obama’s stimulus package:

Clyburn also had some strong comments for Gov. Mark Sanford on why he thinks he opposed the stimulus.

 

“The governor of Louisiana expressed opposition. Has the highest African-American population in the country. Governor of Mississippi expressed opposition. The governor of Texas, and the governor of South Carolina. These four governor’s represent states that are in the black belt. I was insulted by that,” Clyburn said. “All of this was a slap in the face of African-Americans. It had nothing to do with Governor Sanford.”…

President Obama himself got in on it. Tea Party protests? Racist.

But Obama, in his most candid moments, acknowledged that race was still a problem. In May 2010, he told guests at a private White House dinner that race was probably a key component in the rising opposition to his presidency from conservatives, especially right-wing activists in the anti-incumbent “Tea Party” movement that was then surging across the country. Many middle-class and working-class whites felt aggrieved and resentful that the federal government was helping other groups, including bankers, automakers, irresponsible people who had defaulted on their mortgages, and the poor, but wasn’t helping them nearly enough, he said.

 

A guest suggested that when Tea Party activists said they wanted to “take back” their country, their real motivation was to stir up anger and anxiety at having a black president, and Obama didn’t dispute the idea. He agreed that there was a “subterranean agenda” in the anti-Obama movement—a racially biased one—that was unfortunate. But he sadly conceded that there was little he could do about it.

Opposition to Obamacare? Racist.

Addressing the annual NAACP convention in Orlando, Fla., Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that opponents of Obamacare are the same kind of people who opposed civil rights legislation in the 1960s.

 

Her comments on Tuesday came one day before the Republican-led House votes to delay key provisions of the law.

 

“The Affordable Care Act is the most powerful law for reducing health disparities since Medicare and Medicaid were created in 1965, the same year the Voting Rights Act was also enacted,” Sebelius said. “That significance hits especially close to home. My father was a congressman from Cincinnati who voted for each of those critical civil rights laws, and who represented a district near where the late Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth lived and preached.

When the press wasn’t carrying the water for those making the accusations (at the very least they never challenged them), they were “asking questions” about it:

Is it because he’s black?

 

The question of whether race fuels opposition to President Barack Obama has become one of the most divisive topics of the election. It is sowing anger and frustration among conservatives who are labeled racist simply for opposing Obama’s policies and liberals who see no other explanation for such deep dislike of the president.

The last part is absurd. Does anybody really think Republicans would have supported the Affordable Care Act if Joe Biden were President? The stimulus? Tax increases?

This doesn’t even take into account the numerous accusations on the part of talking heads, pundits and writers who have who have used race as a bludgeon to not as a means of actual debate, but instead as a way of saying, “Shut up.”

By claiming conservative opposition (even in part) to Obama’s policies is motivated by racial animosity, liberals free themselves of the burden of having to debate such policies with any degree of intellectual honesty.

Until such time Democrats and liberals stop using such dishonest means of advancing their political agenda, there can be no honest discussion about race.