August 20, 2009 The Racial Straw Man in the Healthcare Debate By Kyle Stone It didn't take long for the race-baiters on the left to reveal themselves. Only now, they are larger in numbers and their names more recognizable. While playing the race card is nothing new in national politics, the presence of a black president has given liberals convenient cover behind which to hide. As a result, many have misdirected the health care debate by falsely framing it in racial terms. From a coward's position, they no longer hesitate in hurling what was once a powerful and weighty accusation -- branding someone a racist. Let us recount those who have recently dropped the race bomb with regard to the healthcare debate: Among the media elites, MSNBC stands at the forefront of misapplying the racial component. Their leftist lineup -- that silly cadre of Bush-bashing rabble-rousers (or "communist cabal" if you're enamored with alliteration), continues to push the racial button: MSNBC host Carlos Watson, who is black, suggested last week that calling the president a "socialist" has become fresh code for the N-word. According to Watson's stunningly irresponsible and incendiary logic, conservatives have been calling Nancy Pelosi that disgusting word for years. As for the network's primetime lineup, highlighting one instance from each host would belie the fact that their racial branding is a daily habit: Chris Matthews seemed content to dismiss everyday folks who vocally oppose Obamacare as simply "upset because we have a black president," as he barked to Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell and the Wall Street Journal's Stephen Moore on August 11th. Following Matthews are Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow, the sneering commentators who repeatedly dismissed participants in numerous Tax Day Tea Parties on April 15th as racists. Liberal personality Ed Shultz lobbed a racial grenade when he translated honest conservative opposition to Obamacare as a threat on the president's life, undoubtedly motivated by racial animus. "Sometime I think they [conservatives] want Obama to get shot," he told his meager radio audience. Never mind that compared to the hateful and vicious treatment President Bush faced in recent years from the left, conservative opposition to Obamacare has been a picnic-or "tea party", if you will. Leftwing columnists have joined the talking heads in racial carpet-bombing: The New York Times' Paul Krugman wrote on August 6th that the town hall brushback to healthcare was actually "racial anxiety" at play, not legitimate opposition to the potential legislation. Days later the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Cynthia Tucker groundlessly declared that 45 to 65 percent of all vocal opponents to Obamacare are motivated by racism. Disturbingly, Tucker was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 2007 for "her courageous, clear-headed columns that evince a strong sense of morality and persuasive knowledge of the community." More alarming is the sudden outburst of prominent politicians throwing racial daggers: Michigan Congressman John Dingell injected race after getting an earful last week from a constituent who feared his son's cerebral palsy treatment wouldn't be fully covered under Obamacare. Dingell's response later to the berating was astounding: "The last time I had to confront something like this was when I voted for the civil rights bill... At that time, we had a lot of Ku Klux Klan folks and white supremacists and folks in white sheets and other things running around causing trouble." Dingell's defective analogy painted the concerned citizen and others at the Romulus, Michigan meeting as a 1960s lynch mob. Nancy Pelosi, in trying to portray opponents to Obamacare as racist extremists, told reporters that protesters had been "carrying swastikas and symbols like that." When pressed for proof, a staffer said the speaker was referring to a photo taken at a town hall meeting where a protester held a sign with a swastika crossed out over President Obama's name along with a question mark. No word from Pelosi regarding the years of mass protest against President Bush featuring similar signs. These politicians and pundits fail to see through their partisan lens the damage they inflict on the very cause they proclaim to advance. Blurring the lines between the many who oppose the President's policies and the few who spurn his blackness sets a dangerous precedent. Their supposed goal of racial unity instead becomes poisoned with distrust and racial discord. As for the President, he contributes to the ugliness by not denouncing it. His presidency was branded the "post-racial" administration, yet during his seven months in office we see his political foot soldiers fight using race-baiting rhetoric with impunity from the White House. He need only recognize that despite the very few on the fringe, those who oppose him are not motivated by racial animus. But he won't. As a result, a great irony reveals itself: in President Obama's "post-racial" administration, by erroneously evoking racism in the health care debate, many liberals are rendering the "racist" tag meaningless.