I remember, when Barack Obama became a truly serious candidate for the Democratic nomination late in 2007, how awe inspiring it was. I knew very little about Obama, other than his 2004 speech at the Democratic National Convention. But his oratory was uplifting and moving, and I honestly felt spurred by his statements. He spoke of a more civil, a more united future together as Americans. He spoke of post-partisanship. A post-racial society.
How things have changed.
Today, Barack Obama leads a movement and party that has so debased itself, it hard to recognize it. Sure, Democrats were always loud and obnoxious when it came to conservatives. I had long come to accept that. Being called ‘mean spirited’, ‘hateful’, or being accused of wanting to kill women and starve children was routine.
But then, in 2008, a new regular charge erupted from the mouths of liberals: the charge of racism.
Sure, conservatives were called racists before. And sometimes, the charge was deserved. But Barack Obama’s ascendancy made the claim routine and common place, targeting almost anyone that opposed Obama. And it became the fall back position for any liberal that could not make a substantial argument otherwise.
In reality, the epithet was used against Democrats first; just ask Bill Clinton, who was famously called ‘the first African American President’ by Maya Angelou, but then in 2008 was called out for being bigoted against Obama.
The first time someone called me a racist, I was truly offended, and emotionally upset. As a minority who was born and raised in this country, I have never really harbored prejudice to anyone. I remember being thirteen years old, and not understanding what an ‘African American’ was. I had Black friends…but the term ‘African American’ to me literally meant someone from Africa…in the same way I was an Indian American. I simply grew up in a household where the concept of bigotry did not exist. And I grew up in a society where although I understood peripherally that racism existed, I did not suffer from its effects. I was raised in a multicultural suburb of Detroit, went to college at the University of Michigan, went to medical school, completed my residency, and started practicing medicine…and never once, although I was always a conservative, had anyone with any knowledge of me even hint that I had a prejudicial bone in my body.
And then in 2008, everything changed. The term ‘racist’ became as commonplace as virtually any other descriptor in political dialogue.
Now, four years later, you hear the claim of racism daily, if you are involved in as many political debates as I am. Some claims of bigotry are outright, while others are hinted at. In either case, you know what the person hurling the claim is saying: you are a bigot, you are racially biased, you are evil.
Just think about the last week. On Friday, a reporter yelled out a question to President Obama during a statement. What is inappropriate? I would say it was definitely inappropriate. Was it racist? That simply is nonsense. Reporters have been doing inappropriate and stupid things for as long as I have been alive, some worse than the reporter in question here.
And that is almost the least prominent of the racism charges. Prominent Democrats and liberals lay the charge of racism almost daily. Whether it be from the likes of the Congressional Black Caucus or DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, the charge is like throwing a figurative bomb into a crowded room. And who can even keep up with the myriad of other celebrities who make claims of racism on the right, as if it is a badge of courage on their part? And let us not forget the likes of President Obama himself, and Attorney General Eric Holder, who fall back to the race card when an extremely difficult moment of criticism comes there way.
Similar charges of racism come routinely from hosts on MSNBC, from Bill Maher, from prominent Democrats. It is a daily occurrence. A few hours after President Obama declared executive privilege on information Congress has been trying to obtain for 8 months, Chris Matthews played the race card, for a simple reason: he has no intellectual defense, so the only weapon they have is the hammer of racism.
And you never hear Barack Obama decrying those statements; his cries for civility are limited to his opponents only. I guess we should never have expected anything more, when you consider his past history, now in the full light of day. Obama’s post-racial, post-partisan society was simply rhetoric molded to the needs of his political career, not a long standing belief.
For me, the epithet has largely become meaningless now. My friends and I, of all races and backgrounds, laugh when someone calls us racist. And that, sadly, is the worst part of this routine use of this charge. There is true racism in society, areas where people are truly damaged by racial prejudice and bigotry, and instead, political hacks use the claim to make incremental charges against the opposition political party that had no racial intentions whatsoever.
So in doing so, liberals, or anyone for that matter, that make casual charges of racism have damaged our society. The charge used to mean something shameful, something embarrassing. For someone like me, who now feels nothing from being called a racist…that is damage that will take this society a long time to recover from…and will make the elimination of true racism all that much harder to come by.