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COLUMN: Robinson is right, not a racist

Letter by Ted Olinger, Vaughn on Nov. 8, 2010 at 3:27 pm with 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.

Leave a comment Comments → 15
  1. aislander says:

    So, you found a way to justify the charge of racism against opponents of Obama’s policies by reading goat’s entrails and divining that people who want to restore American values, don’t REALLY want to restore American values, they just want to get rid of the black guy. Nice.

    As conservative I DO believe America has been invaded by something foreign, but it’s a system of ideas, not people of a particular color. Color doesn’t matter: ideas do. If someone promotes the ideas I support, I will support that person, regardless of color, gender, ethnic origin or any other irrelevant factor…

  2. As will I. As will most Americans aislander, but it won’t stop people from the distortion of truth regarding this president’s disapproval ratings and his race. Virtually nothing.

  3. Progressive ideas are not exactly foreign since they have been part of the American landscape since before the Constitution.

  4. aislander says:

    I think the desire to feed off of someone else IS foreign to the American spirit, xring…

  5. beerBoy says:

    To accuse Robinson (or anyone) of racism because he complains of racism is absurd.

    There is clear evidence of racism being present in the anti-Obama movement – so Robinson is correct that it is there. But, Robinson has presented an oversimplified analysis that attempts to dismiss the entire anti-Obama group as being tainted with racism.

    But……nuanced discussion is so passé, it is so much easier for either side to label and demonize so we are left with accusations of racism on both sides. Rather than deal with the concerns from the right, Robinson labels them as motivated by racism, rather than deal with Robinson’s good points (in other articles) the right labels him as a racist. Dig in to your trenches, the “enemy” is a racist.

  6. It’s Robinson’s responsbility as a public figure to avoid the extreme posturing bBoy. Readership reaction is just what it is. Most of us do not have a forum, and you certainly can’t count this venue, for expressing our views. Robinson should use his more effectively.

  7. Islander – currently it’s the Corporations, Big Business, and the Rich that are feeding of the American People.

  8. I think the desire to feed off of someone else IS foreign to the American spirit

    So……the slave-holding and indebted servitude history of America is foreign to the spirit of America……kinda wondering how this squares with your whole “get back to our roots” originalism….

  9. Your point might be valid had we sustained slavery in America. I believe the true spirit of America prevailed in this intance as in many others. People are flawed, and no system is perfect, but the history of America suggests that the foundational “spirit” of the experiment was about liberty for all people. Still is.

  10. Sozo – the freeing of the slaves was a prime example of the Federal government interfering with the private property rights of individuals.

  11. aislander says:

    xring: That would be true if it had been a top-down process, but the abolitionist movement began in America, and while it came to fruition slightly sooner in England, it was a true grassroots movement here. The people moved the government to abolish slavery. As for “property rights,” Jefferson substituted “pursuit of happiness” in the Declaration in place of John Locke’s “life, liberty, and PROPERTY,” because he didn’t want that used as a rationale for the continuation of slavery when the time came, as he knew it would, for it to be abolished…

  12. Islander: the anti-slavery faction was progressive, the pro-slavery faction was conservative.

    And following true progrssive beliefs the Federal Government was forced into interfered with the rights of property owners by depriving them of their property without due compensation.

  13. bobcat1a says:

    aislander, the Declaration was a high-blown statement of liberal philosophy but you might note that the founders reverted to “life, liberty, and PROPERTY” in the Bill of Rights to the Constitution, the blue print for actually operating a government.

  14. alindasue says:

    Mr. Olinger,
    You stated in your letter that “Robinson argues that where the loyal opposition does not forthrightly confront Obama’s work, its hypocritical moral outrage attacks his identity instead.” Did you not realize that you provided support for his arguement with your own words?

    “… it’s just another strike against this elitist closet Muslim who wasn’t even born here.”

    You know, even when I disagree with a person regarding his feelings about things President Obama has done, I can appreciate that person’s side of the issues. However, this statement of yours is nothing more than typical “birther” attack on the president’s identity, containing “facts” that have been disproven time and time again.

    I often read Mr. Robinson’s columns. He’s a good writer. While I don’t always agree with his views, I do find his columns – even the ones I disagree with – to be intelligent and thought provoking. I wish I could say the same about your letter.

  15. aislander – Locke’s right to property was the right to the amount of property that one could individually make productive use of. The vast amounts of property controlled by very few people in the US breaks the covenant of the body politic as outlined by Locke.

    And that, my friend, is an originalist way of interpreting things.

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