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COLUMN: Robinson is right, not a racist

Letter by Ted Olinger, Vaughn on Nov. 8, 2010 at 3:27 pm | 15 Comments »
November 8, 2010 4:01 pm

Calling Eugene Robinson a racist (letter, 11-6) miscasts his argument in an attempt to dodge its merits.

Robinson wrote: “It’s not racist to criticize President Obama, it’s not racist to have conservative views . . . Bush was vilified by critics while he was in office, but not with the suggestion that somehow the government had been seized or usurped.”

Meanwhile, moral philosophers like Glenn Beck and Rand Paul tell us to “restore honor in America,” that we must “turn our face back to the values and principles that made us great,” and “to take back our government.”

Robinson responds explicitly to what is cravenly implied by those kinds of statements: that America has been conquered by an outsider, and a big part of that otherness is the president’s skin color. Not that there’s anything wrong with that; it’s just another strike against this elitist closet Muslim who wasn’t even born here.

That doesn’t make Robinson a racist any more than criticizing President Bush makes him a socialist or a Nazi, or some other brand of traitor. Robinson argues that where the loyal opposition does not forthrightly confront Obama’s work, its hypocritical moral outrage attacks his identity instead.

Maybe something similar happened when Juan Williams said people “in Muslim garb” at airports make him nervous. Williams immediately acknowledged his statement mischaracterized Muslims because it was based on appearances, but he let his discomfort cloud his judgment as an objective journalist.

Perhaps persons less self-aware than Williams face the same challenge.

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