Liberals believed that black people should be able to vote, eat at any lunch counter, drink out of any water fountain, stay at any hotel, and sit anywhere they wanted on a city bus.
Did conservatives – most of them Southern Democrats – really believe that this was not so much about race but about states’ rights? Did they really believe that states had the right to treat white people one way and black people another? Well, yes, they did. Their position not only was wrong, it was indecent.
So, in those days the word “racism” meant something. Maybe not to the racists. Nothing could shame them. But in civilized society, the word carried power. No more.
Today the word is thrown around promiscuously, mainly by liberals. You’re a racist if … you’re against affirmative action as it’s currently practiced. You’re a racist if … you think the government is spending too much money on all sorts of questionable programs …
It sounds like Jeff Foxworthy’s redneck routine: You’re a redneck if … You think the last words to the national anthem are “Gentlemen, start your engines.” You’re a redneck if … You’ve been married three times and still have the same in-laws.”
That stuff made you laugh. The racism routine makes you want to cry.
Back in the bad old days of real racism, who could have foreseen a time when liberals – the ones who fought so hard for civil rights – would be the ones who would cheapen the word and render it meaningless?
Enter card-carrying progressive Lawrence O’Donnell, who took over for Keith Olbermann on MSNBC. The other night, O’Donnell spotted another case of “racism” in America. He was interviewing Jennifer Granholm, the former Democratic governor of Michigan, when he said this:
“Governor, I want you to listen to that last line of that Republican attack ad against President Obama one more time.” He then ran the ad, which ended with this: “Stop Obama and his union bosses today. The Republican National Committee is responsible for the content of this advertising.”
In case you didn’t see the racism in those words, we’ll leave it to Mr. O’Donnell to explain: “The Republican Party is saying that the President of the United States has bosses; that the union bosses this President around, the unions boss him around. Does that sound to you like they are trying to consciously or subconsciously deliver the racist message that, of course, of course a black man can’t be the real boss?”
Never mind that Republicans have been saying pretty much the same thing about Democrats ever since unions came into existence in this country. It used to be called politics. Now, apparently it’s called racism — because, as everyone knows, “of course a black man can’t be the real boss.”
And I thought Olbermann was nuts!
Even a liberal like Granholm was caught off guard. “Wow, I hadn’t thought about the racial overtones,” she said, before changing the subject.
One of the many problems with so-called progressives is that they haven’t progressed very much over the past 50 or 60 years, at least not when the subject involves race. Instead, they’re hopelessly mired in the past. Someone needs to tell Lawrence O’Donnell, and his progressive pals, that America has changed. It’s no longer 1965, and we’re not in Selma anymore.
You can cry wolf just so many times before people stop paying attention. And that’s the real crime of the progressive Left. If we call every slight, real or imagined, racism, if even honest disagreements are portrayed as racist, what should we call the real thing when it shows its ugly head?
And by the way, the mayor of Selma these days is a black man.
Copyright © 2014 BernardGoldberg.com