It used to be that Democrats just nodded in tacit agreement among themselves that conservatives were racially insensitive. They wouldn't just come right out and call conservatives racist unless you backed them into a corner. But many of them believed it.
But now, it's not just the fringe loonies in our university indoctrination incubators or the race-hustling black activists who come right out and make these charges. No less a party figure than Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean has all but said it directly, and last time I checked, he was in no jeopardy of losing his leadership position.
Wednesday, speaking to the Baptists' Political and Social Justice Commission, Dean said, "We must ... come to terms with the ugly truth that skin color, age and economics played a deadly role in who survived [Katrina] and who did not." Meanwhile Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid insinuated that President Bush was too busy vacationing to respond to the disaster.
Few things can be more verbally destructive to the social fabric of our society than for opportunistic politicians to make such incendiary charges. Is there no depth of incivility to which they will not descend in their quest to regain power on the carcasses of their political opponents?
It's bad enough that they falsely attribute any failures in the federal response to Katrina, the nature and extent of which are still unknown, to President Bush's presumed racism and lack of compassion for the disproportionately black and poor victims. But what about the blacks and the poor themselves?
There is simply no polite way to say this, but the people who claim to have a monopoly on racial egalitarianism and human compassion are, with their false claims, doing immeasurable harm to the blacks and downtrodden they pretend to champion by incessantly dividing us along racial and economic lines.
It's time for a moratorium on our usual genteel, kid-gloves non-reaction to this ideological defamation. When major players in the Democratic Party spew such bile, they should be called to the carpet as should all other Democrat leaders who refuse to denounce their rancid attacks.
While it may strike us as unseemly and inappropriate to dignify the charges with a response, at some point we're going to have to quit pretending this ugly subject will die a natural death. Far too many people have bought into the propaganda.
Just today I read two separate essays, one by a self-styled crusader against racism, and another by a columnist at a major university, who both treated it as a foregone conclusion that any insufficiencies in the federal response were due to racism on the part of the president. The university writer essentially argued, with astonishingly unreflective certainty, that political conservatism is inherently racist.
If people in positions of apparent legitimacy make such obscene allegations in public forums, then significant numbers of people are bound to believe they are true. Where is the compassion in modern liberalism when it devotes so much of its polemic energy not to mending race relations and other divisions in our society but to fanning the flames of suspicion and distrust? What kind of recklessness is it that countenances the public airing of the abominable lie that virtually half the people in the country -- conservatives -- don't care about certain people: minorities and the poor?
And please don't casually dismiss or underestimate the seriousness of the charges being leveled here. Don't just brush them off as harmless. The accusers might as well be accusing the president and his people of manslaughter. There's no other way to translate the implied syllogism whose conclusion is: "President Bush, because of his prejudice against blacks and the poor, permitted victims to die in New Orleans when he could have saved them because they were mostly black and poor."
As Howard Dean and his misanthropic band of race-baiters well know, whatever factors may have contributed to difficulties and delays in the federal rescue effort, they had nothing to do with racial or class prejudice -- nothing. No exceptions.
Regrettably, too many people worship at the altar of their own political power and are transparently willing to destroy and divide people in furtherance of their self-aggrandizement.
One can only hope that one day their tactics will backfire when just a small additional percentage of the very groups they are exploiting migrate to the other side for political sanctuary. It's hardly inconceivable.