The most overused, misused, and even abused word in the English language these days is the term “racist.” Ironically, the upsurge in the use of this most distasteful of pejoratives coincided with the election of Barack Obama as America’s first black president. Since his election, anyone—black, white, Hispanic, or Asian—who disagrees with his policies or questions his leadership is quickly labeled a “racist.” In his new book, God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy, Governor Mike Huckabee writes about this phenomenon: “…consider the word ‘racist.’ If one ignores President Obama’s race and criticizes his policies or tell jokes about him, treating him exactly the way every other President has been treated, one is called a racist. Wouldn’t it be racism if we treated him differently because of his race?”
Why are liberals so quick to drop the “R” bomb on people who disagree with them? To answer to this question it is necessary to understand the powerfully negative connotations of the term “racist.” Because of the checkered racial history of our country, there are few things worse to be called than a “racist.” The term conjures up images of bigots in hoods and robes burning crosses in the yards of black families, bombs killing innocent little black girls in a church in Birmingham, lynchings, snarling police dogs, water cannons turned on peaceful demonstrators, segregation, Jim Crow laws, and George Wallace standing in the door of the University of Alabama to block black students from registering.
With the term carrying these connotations, what person in his right mind would want to be thought of as a racist? Liberals understand that nobody wants to be called a racist. Consequently, they use the term like a club to suppress opposing points of view. When liberals cannot debate a point of contention on the basis of facts, logic, or reason, they simply opt for the nuclear option and drop the “R” bomb on opponents. As long as it works, they will continue to call those who refuse to toe the line of liberal orthodoxy “racists.” But liberals are making a strategic mistake in overusing their favorite label for conservatives, Christians, and other thinking people. Frankly, because of its frequent misapplication, the term “racist” is losing its sting.
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