Dennis Prager

I think that Harry Reid is a left-wing ideologue who is doing serious harm to a great country.

I think that Harry Reid would charge any Republican colleague with racism and ask for that person's resignation if he or she said what Reid is reported to have said about Barack Obama's color and accent.

I think that every liberal Democrat deserves to be hoisted on his own petard and stung by the race card that liberals invented and have used for decades against Republican conservatives. Given what Democrats and their allies in the media did to Sens. Trent Lott and George Allen -- taking innocuous comments and declaring them racist -- Republicans have every right to demand that Mr. Reid resign as Senate majority leader.

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But to the extent that truth still matters in America, what Reid is reputed to have said is not racist, let alone renders him a racist. It seems to be nothing more than a private opinion about what type of black American had the best chance to be elected president.

But all this is not the issue. Here are the issues that matter:

The belief that the public has a right to know what people say privately.

The belief that one knows the "true nature" of people if one knows what they said in private.

The utter inability of Americans to speak with any honesty about anything to do with race.

Let's deal with each.

The unearthing of the private lives and thoughts of public figures has become so normal as to be expected. What the media have done, however, is to render private conversations of anyone in public life almost as guarded as those of citizens in Communist countries. The news media have become a nonviolent form of the East German Stasi or the Soviet KGB. Just as citizens in those former totalitarian states needed to guard their speech in private, lest secret police informers snitch on them and ruin their lives, so, too, American public figures -- from politics to entertainment -- now need to guard their most private moments, lest a member of the media snitch on them and ruin their lives.

As Rhett Butler finally said to Scarlett O'Hara, I say to the media about the private speech of public figures, "Frankly, I don't give a damn."


Dennis Prager

Dennis Prager is a SRN radio show host, contributing columnist for Townhall.com and author of his newest book, Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph.
 
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