Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the Revolution, never to violate in the least particular, the laws of the country; and never to tolerate their violation by others.

As the patriots of seventy-six did to the support of the Declaration of Independence, so to the support of the Constitution and Laws, let every American pledge his life, his property, and his sacred honor; let every man remember that to violate the law, is to trample on the blood of his father, and to tear the charter of his own, and his children's liberty.

Let reverence for the laws, be breathed by every American mother, to the lisping babe, that prattles on her lap; let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges; let it be written in Primers, spelling books, and in Almanacs; let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation; and Let the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the grave and the gay, of all sexes and tongues, and colors and conditions, sacrifice unceasingly upon its altars.

While ever a state of feeling, such as this, shall universally, or even, very generally prevail throughout the nation, vain will be every effort, and fruitless every attempt, to subvert our national freedom.

- Abraham Lincoln, January 27, 1838
  Address Before the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Passive-aggressive racism in the media

American Heritage Dictionary
rac·ism (rā'sĭz'əm) n.

1. The belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others.
2. Discrimination or prejudice based on race.

I was encouraged to read some very strong words this week from White Republicans, condemning John McCain's initial refusal to quiet the racist overtones coming out of his campaign. Unfortunately the national media often lags far, far behind.

This morning I was floored to see an article in the Washington Post - an article purporting to address the issue of race now creeping into daily election dialog - take Democratic congressman John Lewis to task for saying basically the same thing that Republicans Andrew Sullivan and Frank Schaffer said in their own powerful essays.

No mention of the fact that others who are not African American, not civil rights leaders (and not Democrats - heaven help the man who is all three) had evoked similar and equally powerful images before Lewis said a single word.

From the Washington Post, Issue of Race Creeps Into Campaign:

Yesterday, civil rights leader John Lewis, a Democratic congressman from Georgia, became the latest advocate to excite the racial debate, condemning Sen. John McCain for "sowing the seeds of hatred and division" and accusing the Republican nominee of potentially inciting violence.

In a provocative twist, Lewis drew a rhetorical line connecting McCain to the segregationist Alabama governor George Wallace, and through Wallace to the 1963 church bombing in Birmingham that killed four girls. McCain voiced outrage at the comments, which also drew a mild rebuke from an aide to Sen. Barack Obama.

McCain has treated the subject of race gingerly, moving quickly to reject loaded remarks by some supporters while at other times accusing the Obama campaign of "playing the race card" and claiming racism to avoid legitimate criticism.

McCain has been 'moving quickly to reject loaded remarks from some supporters?' What planet has Anne Kornblut been living on all week?

My response:

"Lewis yesterday used a racial frame to leverage one of the harshest cases against McCain this year."

Here we go again.

When a White Republican named Frank Schaffer blasts McCain for "deliberately feeding the most unhinged elements of our society the red meat of hate, and therefore of potentially instigating violence," gosh, that's OK... although none of you in the national media covered his words (I just happened to read the OP-ED in the Baltimore Sun.) I like the fact that Schaffer said that we will hold McCain responsible for any violence... because we will.

And there are many other White Republicans demanding that McCain back off as well; some with very strong words of their own. White Republican Andrew Sullivan said "McCain is playing with fire. If he really wants to put country first, he will attack Obama on his policies - not on these inflammatory, personal, creepy grounds. This is getting close to the atmosphere stoked by the Israeli far right before the assassination of Rabin." I see you didn't cover that.

So why is it that as soon as an African American civil rights leader brings this issue up -- and believe me, he would know -- suddenly he is playing the race card and you write about it here in the Washington Post? Take a good, hard look at yourselves please.

I live in Indiana. I am White and I am very worried that McCain has stirred up racist Klan types that still live in this state -- I also worry about violence breaking out at the polls. All of us who are White or Black non-racists and who have ever come into contact with racists and racist threats are worried that McCain has been stirring a very dangerous pot that could easily turn into violence among his followers.

Lewis has every right to say what he feels needs to be said without being accused in the national media of playing the race card! McCain threw it down first -- we are all answering it. What you in the media are plainly saying is that there is still a double standard - for you - concerning what an African American man can say about racist attacks. And guys -- that is racist.

I could go on and on - with example after example - of this media double-standard. What I think about it really doesn't matter. The real issue is that I can say whatever I want about racial inequality because I am White (that, and no one listens to me anyway - I'm not a democratic congressman from the Deep South.)

If only... I could make one suggestion to the national media, I would encourage them to tread with care when accusing anyone of 'playing the race card' until they have checked more than their own syntax and spelling. Double-standards lurk in the white spaces between the text.

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