Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Racism Race

The last week or two have been nothing if not filled with crossing charges of racism. Oddly, none are correct and all are politically motivated and hurled by lazy politicians and pundits looking for a quick sound byte or ratings boost.

I will spare all of us (especially me) a recitation of the growing misuse of the accusations of racism that started over the 2008 election. We all watched and saw and know better. In a nutshell, supporters of Obama label everyone opposed to them as racists and opponents of Obama seize on every minor opportunity to point out racism among Obama's supporters. In other words, racism is the new corruption or sex scandal.

Recently, however, the charges have gotten way out of control and even further out of proportion to the reality.

The first salvo in this new standoff came from the NAACP. At their annual convention, they passed a resolution calling on the Tea Party to end racism in their ranks. OK. Except the Tea Party movement is not racist. At all. What the NAACP was overreacting to was the presence at some Tea Party rallies of a very few individuals who took the opportunity to put their racist message on a poster and join the rally. These were not actual Tea Party signs and not at all part of the Tea Party agenda.

To be fair, you can find racist messages at the NAACP convention, the Democratic and Republican conventions, probably even the Jewish Federation. None of these organizations - including the Tea Party - is racist. None. Yet somehow, the media decided to focus on those one or two at Tea Party rallies, thus branding lots of good folks unfairly. And the Tea Party organizers were already doing everything they could under law to remove those signs and messages.

The NAACP was asking them to do what they were already doing. An unnecessary action by an organization desperate for relevance. Most serious Tea Party folks just waved it off. Like them or not, the Tea Party movement is not about race. It is about the Constitution and smaller government.

Sadly, one responded. Tea Party Express founder and leader Mark Williams issued a nauseating racist screed on his blog (later removed) that among other things accused the NAACP of being racist for having the word "Colored" in its name. Williams later called it parody and sarcasm. It wasn't. Rightfully, the rest of the Tea Party leaders told Mr. Williams to go away. As they have told other race baiters to go away.

Not content with this, some on the far right started looking for a black person being racist to somehow embarrass the administration. And they thought they had one. An old tape of USDA official Shirley Sherrod (a black woman - sadly it matters in this context) speaking many years ago was edited to sound like she was denying white farmers full services. This was not the case, but too late for that.

The pundocracy swung into motion without any fact checking, which caused the Obama administration to panic before checking all the facts and they forced this woman to quit her job. Because they were afraid of the publicity. Even though there were no official complaints and in fact many good reviews of her work. The NAACP, still trying to recover from the Tea Party embarrassment jumped in and - with no fact checking again - condemned this woman as a racist.

As it turns out, she was not and her remarks, when viewed in totality are obviously not even vaguely racist. Too late, though. She had already been forced to resign while driving home. Seriously. And thus, the damage was already done. To make it worse, the NAACP - again looking rather bad - blamed conservative pundits and bloggers for their error. No mention that they never looked into the matter themselves or even bothered to call this woman. They didn't. They - just like the Obama White House - jumped to head off some bad PR and to look proactive.

Well, they just look stupid. All of them the NAACP, Williams, The White House, the pundits - all of them. None of them researched anything and none of them was honest about it. And why is this now the new battleground? Because Congress is moribund and intellectually bankrupt. How can I pin Congress for this? Easy.

If members of Congress would actually take on real issues and have real debates with real substance, then that would be what we all talked about. That would drive the pundits and press. Those would be the headlines. Since Congress has locked itself into this eternal partisan p***ing contest pointed solely at the next election, not much of substance happens and certainly nothing surprising.

Every debate is predictable, every vote countable days in advance along hard party lines. Every utterance of the self proclaimed leaders is a rerun of the day before and nothing ever really gets done. Both sides have conspired to derail public policy in favor of political gamesmanship. Since Congress has become a permanent campaign festival, the rest of the body politic follows suit. And as the extremes in Congress go further out on the ledge, so does the rest of the gang.

Thus, the American discourse has devolved - pretty much by an act of Congress - to a name calling spat not worthy of an elementary school playground. Until those 535 clowns are replaced by serious people, this idiocy and this "gotcha" strategy will rule the roost. I actually don't care about party or liberal/conservative. The only difference between Democrats and Republicans these days is whose picnics they attend.

I care about issues and those serious about actual governance. Those willing to set aside the permanent campaign and actually do the job they were elected to.

We can send a lot of them home for food on November 2. Come election day, do something really good for America and vote to fire your Congress Critter. The nation and world will be a better place for it.

To drive home that message, I am offering T-Shirts with this message:

As a capitalist and a free market person, I am selling them for both profit and with the intent of donating to those candidates that are willing to step outside the parties and declare a concern for the Constitution and the people.

You can order them here:

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