"...Austin Hill...you just a racist; you just can’t handle the black man bein’ in charge..."
Those remarks were left for me in a voicemail message about six weeks ago. The call was placed to my Blackberry one weekday morning while I was on-air hosting talk radio in Phoenix, Arizona.
I don’t know who the woman was that made the call (the "caller i.d." was blocked), and I didn’t recognize the voice. But somebody who had access to my personal mobile number left that message for me at a very strategic time – a time when I was obviously not going to answer (because I was hosting a talk show!).
The call also seemed to correlate in a timely fashion with remarks I was making on the radio about some of President Obama’s policy proposals.
At about the moment that I was questioning the economics of Obamacare – President Obama has not explained how our government can possibly supply a greater quantity of a higher quality healthcare service to more consumers for less money than is currently spent on healthcare, and he can’t explain that because it is economically not possible – someone hurled the old familiar accusation at me. I dared to question, and even criticize the policies of our President – yes, America's "First Black President" – so, therefore, I was declared to be a "racist."
I’m well acquainted with the "racist" accusation. During the 2007 – 2008 presidential campaigns, I was doing daily talk radio in Washington, D.C., a metropolitan region with a large Black population. When then-Senator Obama would emerge as a topic of conversation (which he did most every day), at least a couple of the callers to my show were obliged to declare me a "racist" for disagreeing with the Senator.
I suspected at the time that there was a coordinated effort among some (not all) Obama supporters to infiltrate talk radio with the "racist" accusations, because I heard it on other talk shows. I observed this happening with local talk show hosts throughout the country, while national hosts Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Mike Gallagher all got an ear-full of the "r-word" as well.
Days later, I penned a column entitled "Dear Mr. Obama, you’re right." I made the point that yes, Obama was running against "both Clintons," and while "both Clintons" dove into the gutter with their racial rhetoric, I complimented Obama for mostly staying above the fray. And based on the comments posted on the web site beneath that column, it was very well received.
In the column I noted that I can disagree with Mr. Obama's ideas, while still appreciating his conduct. That's what I was doing then. And in a similar vein, today I can respect the office of the Presidency, and the person Barack Obama, while vehemently disapproving of President Obama's ideas and policies.
I'm not the only "conservative" American who can respectfully disagree in this way. I recall that after President Obama's first televised speech to a joint session of Congress earlier this winter (President Obama didn't do a "State of the Union" speech, per se, but the speech essentially fulfilled that same purpose), it was none other than the always intelligent and thoughtful Hugh Hewitt who, while being a strong critic of this President, nonetheless noted what an amazing sign of American progress it was to observe a man with black skin executing the duties of the Executive Office.
Of course, the idea that one can be respectful and disagreeable all at the same time is incomprehensible to those given to simplistic, "all good/all bad," "black-and-white" type thinking. And this simplistic thinking reached a new high point last week when former President Jimmy Carter jumped on to the "if you disagree you’re a racist" bandwagon.
So before the next person leaves a voicemail or emails me, reminding me that I'm a racist, let me make something very clear. If you're inclined to join the simple-minded crowd; if you’re inclined to agree with President Jimmy Carter; if you actually believe that mere political disagreement is tantamount to "racism" – please consider the profound disservice you're doing to our country.
You, and others like you, have now successfully so over-used and misused the word "racism" such that you've made the term irrelevant. Today, when the word "racism" is uttered, it sounds like nothing more than defensive political "spin."
And to believe as Carter and company do is to render actual "racism" to be irrelevant in the minds of many. And that’s a sad turn of events, in a nation where actual racism still exists.