Can We Stop Calling People Racist Now?

Tuesday, 2009-September-15 at 05:12 1 comment

Much has been made of the “tea party” protests against President Obama’s health care plan. Apparently, a columnist for the NY Times even wrote that the whole thing is motivated by racism. (I’m a Californian, so the only Times that really matters to me is based in Los Angeles.)

Please. Let me tell you something about racism. Racism is intentional. There are plenty of misunderstandings, misinterpretations, and pure lack of sense that get called racism, not to mention political disagreements, as is the case here. But those are not racism. Racism isn’t just prejudices and practices that you’ve absorbed without thinking about it (such as minorities=poor, urban drug users). Racism isn’t opposing higher taxes or a federal health care plan. Racism is your intentional decision to hold such views and to act on them. Racism is clutching your purse tighter when you see a Black man walking down the street. Racism is when the officer lets two carloads of potential drug users go because a dark-skinned person drives past.

Look. There are some people who have not gotten over the fact that we have a Black president. We know that is true. There are others who question his religious beliefs (as though a Muslim would make a bad person to sit in the White House when we have so many intolerant anti-religious bigots in government already). Those people are out there, and we know it. If they’d rather have Vladimir Putin in the office, chances are, they are motivated only by skin color.

However, misusing the term racist to cover everyone who disagrees with the President is ultimately damaging to the country, to race relations here and abroad, and to our efforts to hinder the recruitment efforts of the kind of groups that go into hiding in the woods in Idaho. There are plenty of real racists out there. Don’t waste the term by painting all your political opponents with it.

Racism is repulsive and un-American. Speaking up when you feel the government is making major decisions that will harm you, your children, and the rest of the nation isn’t racism, it is common sense. It doesn’t mean that I agree with the protesters. In fact, my problem with President Obama’s health care plan is twofold:

  1. It forces everyone to pay into the hands of the same idiots that nearly collapsed our economy in the first place, the financial industries (in this case, mostly the insurance industry). I ask you, is this who you want to be in charge of most people’s health care, especially after sixteen years of failure?

    Clearly, some kind of so-called public option should be the only option for some level of “basic care”, with private companies allowed to offer policies that cover things above that.

  2. It is pretty clear, for people who read the Constitution, that our government is frankly not allowed to do this. The states, however, are. If the federal government approves it, all US states, territories, commonwealths, and possessions could form a kind of joint operating agreement. However, the federal government cannot and should not run the show. Again, look to the financial crisis for guidance: the practices that led to the collapse were so obviously dangerous that many states had tried to rein the financial industries in, but the corrupt federal government intervened on the behalf of financial industry after financial industry. Are you willing to let this happen with your health care?

Still, agree or disagree, any intelligent person knows that there are plenty of non-racist reasons why people might oppose the President’s agenda. We have enough real racists to deal with, if that’s what you want to do. Stop calling people racist just because they disagree with the President.

If you want to help rid our nation of racism (I surely do), here’s what I suggest: make friends, and I mean close friends, with people of different ethnic backgrounds from you. Get to know people who work in different industries, who hold different religious beliefs, who support different political views than you do, and work to build those relationships despite your differences. But if you are not willing to to do this, shut your mouth and get out of the way of those of us who want to repair our damaged nation.

This rant is the opinion of Walt Hucks, who is solely responsible for its content. Permission is granted to republish verbatim in any medium.

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1 Comment

  • 1. Opto  |  Monday, 2009-September-28 at 00:15

    Nicely said. Using the term “racism” to describe those in opposition to a proposed bill by the head of the U.S. federal government is ludicrous. It reflects very poorly on those mainstream news shows that suggest such a thing. It also leads non-Americans to believe that Americans make important political decisions based on race, and that Americans are intolerant.

    It reminds me of an interview that I saw during the electoral campaign. I can’t remember what this person was representing and why she was interviewed but she stated that those that did not vote for McCain/Palin were anti-women.

    Is this how Americans votes? If so, ballots could be designed to make voting easier:
    Male or Female (checkbox)
    White or Non-White (checkbox)
    Old or Young (checkbox)
    From North or South of the Mason-Dixon line (checkbox)
    Children or no children (checkbox),
    Christian or non- (checkbox),…


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