Aren’t you Afraid of Being Called a Racist?


The title of this column is a question I was asked recently by someone who had read another of my columns at this site. The column the man had read was a hard-hitting but factual denunciation of Barack Obama’s hapless handling of the terrorist threat. In a bit of a hurry at the time, I gave a brief and even cryptic response. I said, “Not anymore. During the Obama administration the term “racist” has been so overused and misused that it has lost its meaning. Besides, being called a racist these days puts me in good company. Some of the most distinguished black Americans today are often called the same thing because they hold conservative political views.”

My answer to his query was accurate, but it began to nag at me that I should have given the man a more comprehensive answer—one that explained what I meant by the words “not anymore.” To say “not anymore” was to admit that there was a time when I was afraid of being called a racist; a fear that still permeates our society today which, in turn, allows liberals and race hustlers to use the term like a club to attack anyone who refuses to toe the line of liberal orthodoxy or fall in line with their nefarious agenda. Ironically, you hear the term “racist” used most often these days not by Black Americans but by white liberals. Consequently, this column contains the more comprehensive answer to the question “Aren’t you afraid of being called a racist?” I should have taken the time to give the man who asked the question in the first place.

I grew up in the deep South during the bad old days of Jim Crow. Segregation, “colored” water fountains, and “whites only” signs were common during my younger years. Some of the worst battles between Civil Rights advocates and the hardened bigots who opposed them occurred during my formative years. Consequently, the images conjured up in my mind when I hear the term “racist” are of hate-filled men in robes and hoods burning crosses, lynching blacks, beating sit-in participants, burning the busses carrying freedom riders, turning snarling dogs and water cannons on peaceful protestors, and—worst of all—murdering four beautiful, innocent little black girls by blowing up their church. With this background, one can understand why the term “racist” has always been such a powerful pejorative in my view; something I never wanted to be called or even tangentially associated with.

But much water has run under the bridge since my childhood and the America of 2015 is much different than the America of the 1950s and 60s.
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