Thursday, November 18, 2004

Scare Tactics: In a switch, conservatives are playing the PC card and are accusing liberals of racism. Why? Because lefties have the gall to mock and criticize the nominee for Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice.

In a series of political cartoons, Ms. Rice is depicted in an unflattering and critical light. But so is everyone else who appears in political cartoons. The only difference is she is a black woman. But that shouldn't keep her immune from criticism.

Conservatives would argue that if the tables were turned, liberals would be screaming racism. Well, then the liberals would be wrong, too. Conservatives used to be the ideology that shunned political correctness. Now they're using it as a political weapon.

There is a line that shouldn't be crossed, but nobody agrees where that line should be. In the past, liberals such as Harry Belafonte referred to Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice as President Bush's "house slaves". That, in my opinion, is racist (even coming from a fellow African American). But Ms. Rice had a great reply, "If Harry Belafonte wants to disagree with my political views, that's fine. But I don't need Harry Belafonte to tell me what it means to be black."

Now, it seems, anytime a person of color is raked over the coals, for legitimate or overblown reasons, that person's race becomes an issue. But it's incredibly dangerous to dismiss all criticism against a person as racist, as it's akin to the Red Scare or a witch-hunt.

Flagrant accusations are effective at suppressing opposition speech, but that's the last thing we want in a society that promotes open discourse. And the accusation itself, in some respects, is racist, because it implies that just because the person is a racial minority, that he or she can't take the heat.

We broke a lot of ground during this administration in placing people of color in powerful government positions. That should be reason enough to stop discussing race and to keep the arguments focused on policy.


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