02.28.2010 0

Did Lawmakers Play “Race Card” to Smear Protesters?

  • On: 03/30/2010 09:47:19
  • In: Conservative Movement
  • By Chris Slavens

    Was a group of lawmakers, including Reps. John Lewis (D-GA), Emanuel Cleaver II (D-MO), James Clyburn (D-SC), and Andre Carson (D-IN), verbally assaulted with racial slurs on March 20? Did protesters of the federal health-care takeover shout racial slurs at them? Was Rep. Cleaver spat upon? Was the rally held that weekend one of violence, hatred, and bigotry?

    Mainstream media outlets have reported these incidents as factual, many commentators conveniently drawing the conclusion that “tea partiers” are racists trying to prevent black Americans from receiving free healthcare at the expense of working taxpayers. Even right-leaning Fox News reported the charges without questioning their basis.

    In one case, there simply is no evidence. Video shows the congressmen walking to the Capitol, while protesters shouted “Kill the bill!” No racial slurs can be heard. In another case, emerging facts seem to expose the lie; Cleaver claimed that a protester spat on him and was arrested, yet Capitol Police spokesman Sgt. Kimberly Schneider said that no arrests were made that day.

    Was Cleaver mistaken about the alleged offender’s arrest? Or did the congressman simply make the whole thing up?

    The political motivation for the accusations is obvious. Democrats, particularly those of the radical left, have tried since the birth of the grass-roots Tea Party last year to portray it as a racist reaction to President Obama’s skin color. MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann, a propagandist who fancies himself a pundit, refers to the movement as “the Tea Klux Klan.” Anyone who has attended even one “tea party” meeting—like those held by groups affiliated with Glenn Beck’s 9/12 Project—knows this portrayal to be based on stereotypes, rumors, and outright falsehoods.

    Progressives understand that accusations of racism stick, even if the facts are on the side of the accused. Their goal is not to fight bigotry. It is to discredit the Tea Party in any way possible, and if examples of racism cannot be found, they are staged or invented. A smear campaign based on race baiting is bound to get ugly.

    “I heard people saying things today I have not heard since March, 15, 1960, when I was marching to try to get off the back of the bus,” said Clyburn. “It was shocking to me.”

    No, Congressman, what is shocking is that, in 2010, after the historic election of the nation’s first black president, you and your colleagues still feel the need to use skin color as a politically untouchable trump card. Playing the “race card,” as it is popularly called, to purposely obscure the facts about the issue of your choice—the attitudes of protesters, in this case—is dishonest and despicable.

    Suppose, for the sake of argument, that racial slurs were shouted by someone in the crowd of protesters, and just happened to be missed by the cameras present. It is possible, even likely, that fake protesters were planted within the ranks of Tea Party demonstrators, having been instructed to draw negative attention to those around them.

    It is also possible that an angry protester made the statements, not thinking of how it would reflect on the movement as a whole, or not caring. If that was the case, it is inappropriate to demonize a movement of hundreds of thousands of Americans, and compare proud patriots to white supremacists and neo-Nazis, simply because a couple of bad apples showed up to a rally.

    Chris Slavens, former contributor to the Wilmington News Journal, is a Liberty Features Syndicated writer for Americans for Limited Government.

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