These charges aren't just emanating from the fringe groups; they're not just being uttered by radical leftist bloggers or Occupy Wall Street zealots. They are no longer the exclusive province of race hustlers whose professional careers depend on stirring up animosity among racial groups.
In August 2011, the level of polarization seemed to reach a fever pitch, when Congressional Black Caucus Whip Andre Carson said, "Some of them in Congress right now with this tea party movement would love to see you and me ... hanging on a tree."
Just a week or so ago, no less a mainstream media figure than former ABC White House correspondent Sam Donaldson wrote, "Many on the political right believe this president ought not to be there -- they oppose him not for his policies and political view but for who he is, an African American!"
This is truly despicable. Imputing such false charges of racism, either out of profound ignorance or in a cynical effort to chill critically important political debate, is terribly destructive to our social fabric. But it goes on -- unabated.
Indeed, Carson's and Donaldson's deplorable statements are a predictable culmination of three years of divisive, racially charged rhetoric and policies from this administration.
Before he was inaugurated, President Obama promised that he would usher in a new period of bipartisan, post-racial politics, and many people believed him. But instead of inspiring a new climate of harmony, Obama has fostered an unprecedented atmosphere of divisiveness and polarization in this country.
From the beginning, Obama has engaged in identity politics, pitting groups of people against one another, from race to gender to economic status to sexual preference.
Early on, Attorney General Eric Holder lectured Americans for being cowards on race. President Obama himself, at one point, allowed as how some of his detractors have a subterranean agenda related to race.
In his radio addresses during the 2010 congressional campaigns, Obama, the uniter, appealed in explicitly racial terms to blacks and Latinos, telling them Democrats were their friends and Republicans were their enemies. First lady Michelle Obama also couched her pitch for Democratic congressional candidates in terms of what it would mean for black Americans, who were still suffering discrimination and facing disproportionate problems -- as if it were some sort of GOP-spawned race-based conspiracy. What she didn't say, of course, was that it was under her husband's policies that black unemployment had reached new highs.
Obama has portrayed Republicans and conservatives as people who want a small America, who don't care about the poor or minorities, who have a problem with people who aren't like them (read: race), who want dirtier air and dirtier water, and who applaud when people lose their health insurance coverage.
In a formal report to the United Nations Human Rights Council, the Obama administration told the world that America was engaging in discrimination against minorities and the LGBT community. It even submitted Arizona's immigration law to this anti-American body for review.
Beyond the toxic rhetoric, Obama has brought race into his policy mix, as well. His administration suggested that racism (racial profiling) was behind Arizona's and other states' immigration laws. It has depicted those who oppose amnesty and who support border enforcement as nativists and outright racists. His Justice Department dismissed a voter intimidation case against New Black Panther Party members because of an unwritten administration policy forbidding the prosecution of such cases when the alleged perpetrators are minorities and the alleged victims are white. During the GM and Chrysler restructuring, the administration reportedly allowed disproportionate numbers of minority and female owners to retain their dealerships.
Similarly, the Obama administration has brazenly attacked states that have passed voter ID laws, cravenly suggesting that demanding that voters prove their identity as a condition to voting is a thinly concealed effort to prevent minorities from voting -- as if minorities are incapable of producing identification. Republicans don't want to prevent any properly qualified and registered voters from voting, but they don't want them -- or their dead friends -- to vote multiple times.
Even in the most recent administration scandal, "Fast and Furious," Holder suggested that his political opponents are after him over the gun-walking scandal as a way of getting at President Obama through him because they are both African-Americans.
Contrary to Donaldson's incendiary charges, Republicans oppose Obama's policies because they are destructive, not because of his race -- a charge as absurd as it is vicious.
It is time these disgraceful tactics end.
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