Monday, August 2, 2010

Has the Threat of Being Called a “Racist” Lost its Political Bite?

Photo Credit - Flickr Creative Common
You are a racist if you were not in favor of the healthcare reform legislation or want it repealed. You are a racist if you are a member of a Tea Party organization. You are a racist if you believe there might be any truth to the ethics charges against Charlie Rangel and Maxine Waters. You are a racist, and against immigration, if you support the Arizona SB1070 legislation.


You are a racist if you watch Fox News. You are a racist if you do not agree with redistribution of wealth or social justice policy. You are a racist if you are against federal deficit spending and for lower taxes. And most certainly, if you believe capitalism and the free market are why America is a wealthy country, you are a racist. You may be a racist simply because you are white or you make over $200,000 per year.

You are not only a racist, but you are also intolerant of other religions, if you oppose the building of an Islamic mosque being proposed with a view overlooking ground zero in New York City.

You have no right to an opinion that is out-of-step with the progressive policies in America, even if that opinion is in-step with the majority of Americans. The only possible reason you could have a differing opinion is because you are a racist. The majority of Americans must be racist.


When an accusation is overused, abused, and becomes the expected first retort in a political policy debate; that accusation ends up losing its political bite. The accusations “that’s racist” and “you are a racist” have now lost what should be their relevant context. For many Americans being called a “racist” by those with an opposing political view has become an expected norm. This expectation has brought acceptance of this being the price of speaking up and having a position that is not progressive or politically correct. It is a price many are willing to pay, and they no longer fear the immediate racist label understanding it is a political tactic to silence them.

The term “racist” has been abused by excessive use for strictly political means. When this happens, the “sting” of what is rightfully a terrible sin and label is minimized, for it has been neutered through the wrongful use of it. When it is recognized that people or groups are routinely accused of being “racist” for simply having a political opinion that differs from the progressives in America, the label is no longer feared no matter how terrible. The effort to defend against the accusation with anything more than a simple denial with no further discussion is no longer seen as necessary.

The racism label accusation is no longer feared, because it no longer has true meaning in the political environment. It no longer has any personal weight, because the weight of it being true before being leveled at a person or group is no longer a factor. Those that have experienced true racism have lost much in the dilution of the racism label for political purposes.

When obvious racism is exposed through political rhetoric, and then this is subject to a “double-standard” of being labeled “racist” depending on what political philosophy or skin color it is coming from - all Americans have lost. Racism is not a color or a political party. Racism is not a political opinion that differs with a progressive or a conservative. Racism is not separately truly defined by discrimination or reverse-discrimination.

Racism is not a blanket catch-all accusation for a race, a political identity, or an opinion. If it is, being called a racist no longer has any true political meaning. It no longer has any true integrity. Without political integrity, being called a racist no longer has any political bite.

We are all familiar with the stories of Henny Penny and the boy who cried “Wolf”. If I remember correctly, they weren’t distinctively white, black, brown, progressive, or conservative. Henny Penny and the Wolf both lost their bite though for the same reason.


  1. I would say that based on the hasty behavior of the Obama's administration in the Sherrod case, the racist tag still has plenty of bite. Ethnicity remains a dangerously potent political sentiment the world over. We have good reason to condemn anyone who seeks to exploit ethnic resentments and fears for any purpose. Given the passions that the topic stirs, it should not be treated lightly by any responsible citizen.

  2. Roger, thank you for your thoughtful comment. I agree and that is one of the points of the article - the accusation of "racist" should not be treated lightly. It losing context and therefore meaning when it is as we see every day in politics now.