Harvard law professor and defense attorney Alan Dershowitz made the same rhetoric-equals-racism argument back in 1998, only he objected the way the "right wing" refers to themselves as "real Americans." For example, a former Southern Republican criticized Dershowitz by saying, "Real America understands that the Constitution is there for a reason."
To this Dershowitz responded, "Whenever I hear the words 'real Americans,' that sounds to me like a code word for racism, a code word for bigotry, a code word for anti-Semitism." We go again to the videotape:
Then-President Bill Clinton, 1995: "Look, I know America first and foremost is a place where individual effort and family values count. That's why I am successful. But I live in the real America -- not in Washington, D.C."
Then-President Clinton, 1997: "Remember how you have seen things like that during the natural disasters here in California. That is the face of the real America. That is the face I have seen over and over again. That is the America somehow, some way, we have to make real in daily American life."
Then-President Clinton, 1998: "America's got a good agenda in the coming months. We can be for saving Social Security first, better schools, a cleaner environment, and a Patient's Bill of Rights, and we can sell that in every place in America. They are real choices real Americans face in this election."
Then-first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, 1994: "They have enabled this day to come about, because they were willing to think differently, to put people first, to solve real problems that real Americans face every day."
Then-House Minority Leader Rep. Richard Gephardt, Mo., 1998: "We will carry on this fight every day of the rest of this year to fight for the real issues that real Americans care about so deeply."
Speaking of race, Attorney General Holder said, "The greatest threats (posed by racism) do not announce themselves in screaming headlines. They are more subtle. They cut deeper ... and ... are more pernicious." Holder offered three specific examples of "subtle," "deep," "pernicious" racism.
What are they? One, the push by some states for voter ID. Two, that black men receive longer prison sentences compared to white men for same crime. Third, that black kids are expelled/suspended at higher rates compared to white students.
In the case of voter ID, blacks support the requirement almost as much as do whites. Prison sentences are based, in part on arrests, something juries are unusually barred from hearing about. As for suspensions, schools in both liberal and conservative areas experience the same thing -- black boys disproportionately expelled.
Blame bad behavior, lack of discipline at home or fatherless homes. But blaming the consequences of bad behavior on "pernicious" racism does damage to growth and personal responsibility. Nice work, Mr. Holder.
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