When Barack Obama was elected President of the United States, I experienced ambivalence about a national election result for the first time in my life. In every other presidential election that ran counter to my vote, I felt that the winner didn't represent any advantage for the future of the country. When Jimmy Carter beat Gerald Ford, I braced myself for the liberal climate about to descend on us. When Clinton beat Bush 1, it meant that the country was willing to overlook the man's well-documented history of immoral conduct, which inevitably led to national disgrace. For me, neither of these victors provided anything salubrious for the country's future.
Although I voted for John McCain, and I believed that he was the better leader for our country, seeing the first African-American become the nation's chief executive gave me the feeling that we had finally crossed a threshold in race relations. After all, with blacks representing only about 12 percent of the population, a huge non-black turnout was needed for a black candidate to be elected. Winning by a comfortable margin seemed to make it clear that Obama's victory could result in less vitriol from race-baiters who had enriched their bank accounts by fulminating about the country's history of bigotry. Finally, we would no longer be urged to view everything through a prism of pigmentation. Hence, my ambivalence was an example of finding something good about being on the losing side of a national plebiscite.
I suppose you could say that I saw Obama's color as a consolation prize. His political philosophy of bigger government, more taxes, closing of Guantánamo Bay, Miranda rights for terrorists, etc. is an example of the type of liberal orthodoxy that has weakened the U.S. for more than a generation. However, it felt good to know that we had proven to the world that we are truly a melting pot.
Alas, that sentiment was short-lived. When the president insinuated last year that a black Harvard professor's arrest by a white police officer was racially motivated, it became clear that he wasn't interested in leading the country toward a colorblind society. Furthermore, Democrats have become more creative about finding racism in everyone who opposes this president. When the grassroots efforts of the Tea Party movement began to gain national attention, it became a target for accusations of racism. It's a typical red herring intended to divert attention from the president's massive power-grab known as ObamaCare, which will, in addition to destroying the best health care system on the planet, put an unsustainable debt burden on future generations. Does any rational person really believe that the majority of our citizens would be in favor of that medical monstrosity if it had been proposed by a white president?
Nancy Pelosi, the most arrogant and polarizing Speaker in the history of the House, dismissed the Tea Party as nothing more than "disheartened Republicans and racists, who could not accept a bi-racial man as president." Similarly, the mainstream media and Democrat activists, evidently taking their orders from the Speaker's office, tried to portray the health care debate as being based solely on President Obama's race rather than on the policies of an overreaching government. Therefore, we are in the bizarre position of having the first black POTUS, while being constantly scolded for being racist. Every word, gesture, and nuance is being parsed and magnified in a cynical attempt to scare non-blacks into a state of reticent acquiescence.
The left-wing lunatics realize that their days are numbered if they don't find a way to discredit the national movement that is poised for a landslide victory in November. They feel that the best way to accomplish that is to muzzle people by twisting their words until everything sounds racially motivated. Something as innocuous as "It'll be a dark day in America if ObamaCare is not stopped" could be interpreted as a reference to the man's skin color. It's a smart tactic because it restrains free speech and keeps the opposition on the defensive.
No decent person wants to be characterized as a bigot. So if such a charge is made, the victim of the accusation is forced to deny the slur and lose sight of the message he was trying to convey. Since it's impossible to prove a negative, the victim is often relegated to a series of contrite utterances where none should be needed. While good people are wasting time assuring the accusers that they are pure of heart, the issue that was germane to the discussion has disintegrated into a puff of fraudulent smoke.
The most potent weapon in a democracy is free speech; if we lose it because we were conned into adopting a morbid fear that our words are tantamount to subliminal racism, then tyranny is closer than we think. To quote our first president: "If free speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter." Bob Weir is a former detective sergeant in the New York City Police Department. He is the executive editor of The News Connection in Highland Village, Texas. E-mail Bob.