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On Demagoguing, Obama Should Look in the Mirror

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

As the granddaddy of political demagoguery, President Obama might have outdone himself with his recent admonition to political opponents not to "demagogue" the immigration issue.


A "demagogue" is "a political leader who seeks support by appealing to popular desires and prejudices rather than by using rational argument." "Ah," you say, "Obama is onto something here. Those who oppose his open-border policy are appealing to prejudice against immigrants instead of to rational argument." Wrong.

Rather, those who support defending our borders believe in the rule of law and in law enforcement. The people of the United States -- and Arizona in particular -- have a rational interest in protecting their borders and in wanting to prevent illegal immigration. Though we've had immigration laws on the books for years, are Obama's Democrats saying they are irrationally based -- that anyone who wants to enforce these laws is prejudiced? That anyone throughout our history who favored controlling immigration was harboring racial prejudice?

It is Obama and many of his supporters who fall into the demagogue category by appealing to prejudices and fears in lieu of rational argument. Even in his invocation of the term "demagogue" to describe this issue, Obama himself is demagoguing. He must, because he has no reasonable arguments to justify his lawless policy.

Obama is implying -- and has been implying for months -- that the people of Arizona didn't pass an enforcement law to ensure their own safety or to facilitate legitimate ends of law enforcement authorities, but to discriminate against legal aliens.


Indeed, the thrust of the administration's ill-conceived lawsuit against the state of Arizona and its people is that legal aliens would be targeted by the reach of the new law. Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder know better, as Arizona officials testified under oath and averred otherwise in court filings, but they choose to persist in this destructive lie anyway because rational arguments fail them.

The law will not be applied to legal aliens, but it doesn't target illegal aliens, either. It merely allows authorities to demand documentation from those who are already detained because of a reasonable suspicion they broke a law. If they don't put themselves in a position of being under such suspicion, the immigration law is powerless against them.

Being "a political leader who seeks support by appealing to popular desires and prejudices," Obama wants to inflame Hispanics into believing the Arizona people and Republicans nationwide are motivated by a prejudice against Mexicans. Liberals have been hyping this malicious canard for years, suggesting that Republicans and conservatives are nativists and racists.

This is part of a pattern for Obama: to hold himself out as transcending race while exploiting the issue worse than anyone has in the past 50 years. Whether in his self-indulgent autobiographies or his stump speeches, Obama consistently reveals his deep-seated racial baggage, and he simply will not desist from projecting that baggage onto his political opponents, who oppose him because of his policies. Obama's mentor Saul Alinsky would heartily approve.


In his "bitter clingers" speech, Obama suggested that small-town Americans cling to not only their "guns or religion" -- as if that were unhealthy -- but also their "antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."

"Antipathy to people who aren't like them"? Notice how he unctuously conflates racial prejudice with anti-trade and anti-immigration ideas. He's talking about political conservatives here -- Middle America -- and implying they're racists. No mistake about it. Apparently, he can only view things through race-tinted spectacles and insists on forcing those glasses on the rest of us, as well.

"High-minded" liberal elites were beside themselves proclaiming that Obama, because of his race, was in a special position to usher in an era of racial harmony. Well, if we accept the premise that his race should matter on race relations, then it's also fair to say that he has a special responsibility not to exploit the race issue and that he should take extraordinary care not to inflame the already sensitive passions that exist.

It can't reasonably be argued that it's healthy for race relations for Obama to gallivant about suggesting ordinary Americans are routinely prejudiced, whether against blacks, Hispanics or other "minorities." Such reckless speech does more to exacerbate racial tensions than his election could ever do to heal them.


Falsely accusing people of racism is essentially the same thing as racism. It's time for Obama and many other liberals to rise above their own categorical prejudice against conservatives and quit slandering them as racists and nativists. Then we can proceed to have a rational discussion on the issue of immigration.

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