Overplaying the Hate Card
This column by ACRU Senior Fellow Robert Knight was published April 2, 2012 in The Washington Times.
If Oscars were awarded for liberal hysteria, California’s Rep. Barbara Lee would be a perennial contender. On Tuesday, at a congressional forum on the shooting death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin, Ms. Lee proclaimed that it was the result of “a toxic and deadly mix.”
“While this issue has shocked American culture, it hasn’t shocked me,” she said in a press statement. “The combination of the powerful gun lobby, racial profiling and hate crimes makes this local matter one of national attention.”
Who knew that the alleged shooter (did you notice how fast the word “alleged” disappeared in news reports?), neighborhood watch member George Zimmerman, was possessed by all those evil spirits when he began following Mr. Martin before the tragic confrontation on Feb. 26? Or that people who defend the Second Amendment are somehow responsible?
The New Black Panther Party, last seen intimidating voters at a Philadelphia polling place in 2008, has offered a $10,000 reward for the “capture” of Mr. Zimmerman, who has not been arrested as of this writing. The police say he acted in self-defense. Maybe so, maybe not, but we won’t know until all the facts come out.
Speaking of which, as Trayvon’s own problems with the law come to light, organizers of racially charged mass marches want any such facts suppressed, contending that asking questions amounts to smearing the dead. On the other hand, Mr. Zimmerman, identified constantly as “white-Hispanic,” is fair game. The whole thing is a sad, terrible business that unscrupulous race baiters are making worse.
So far, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.’s Justice Department, which withdrew the Black Panther voter case despite a conviction, has issued no public warning to the Panthers that they might be flirting with incitement or intimidation. The Justice Department also has ignored the execution-style shooting of two white British tourists in Sarasota, Fla., last April by a black teen who has been convicted of murder. President Obama, who has fanned racial flames in the Trayvon Martin case, apparently has ignored three letters from a friend of the slain tourists, who told the British press that he thinks the absence of presidential condolence is because the case has no “political value.”
Meanwhile, at the request of New York Democratic Sen. Charles E. Schumer, the Justice Department is reviewing the constitutionality of state laws that allow people to use force in their own defense. The “stand your ground” laws are meant to spare people who defend themselves from being sued by assailants. Liberals hate those laws because they reinforce the Second Amendment and interfere with the paradigm of criminal as victim.
The left’s constant accusations are getting a bit thick. Last month, an NAACP delegation actually complained to the United Nations in Geneva that state photo ID laws that prevent vote fraud are a violation of “human rights.”
In Loudoun County, Va., a local Democrat-owned newspaper, the Loudoun Times-Mirror, ran a banner headline on Wednesday that screamed: “Delgaudio’s advocacy group an anti-gay hate group, SPLC claims.”
Eugene Delgaudio is a county supervisor and founder of Public Advocate of the United States, a conservative advocacy group. SPLC is the Southern Poverty Law Center, which began as a small group fighting racism and morphed into a fabulously wealthy bully used by the left to apply the “hate” stamp to people and groups with whom the left disagrees.
The SPLC tracks real hate groups such as skinheads, neo-Nazis and the like, and when it does, it performs a valuable public service as an early-warning system. But recently, SPLC jumped the shark, lumping orthodox Christian outfits like the Family Research Council, Coral Ridge Ministries and others with real hate groups. That’s because those Christian organizations resist the cultural blitzkrieg to accept homosexual and transgender behavior as healthy, normal and unchangeable. The groups contend that people tempted in those ways deserve the same chance for repentance and salvation as everyone else.
Liberals used to play the race card at the drop of a hat. The conservative joke was, “How do you know you’re winning an argument with liberals? They call you a racist.” Now, liberals play the hate card just as often.
The Southern Poverty Law Center has become a mirror of its own allegations. It makes false charges of hate and equates good people with violent extremists. The Anti-Defamation League ought to be all over the SPLC, but it, too, has bought into a radical leftist agenda that redefines traditional morality as a form of hatred.
In a society trained to react in Pavlovian fury toward someone accused of harboring “hate,” this charge is a powerful weapon for crushing dissent. Gradually, people are being conditioned to be race-obsessed and to associate traditional religious morality with bigotry and extremism.
The uneven, overheated nature of hate allegations undermines our cultural consensus that hate really is a bad thing. It cheapens the language, like redefining marriage, as Great Britain’s formerly “Conservative” Party is inexplicably championing. Words are losing their meaning. When the SPLC calls somebody a “hater,” you don’t really know until you look more closely.
The good news is that surveys show the progressives’ “hate” parade is wearing out its welcome. How many people really believe that the Catholic Church and the Republican Party are “waging a war against women” because they want to restore conscience protections? How many people think Rush Limbaugh should be driven from the air while foul-mouthed liberals like Bill Maher assail conservative women with impunity?
Does anyone really believe anymore that march/protest/newshounds Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, who never miss a chance to fan the flame of racial resentment, really want us all to get along?
Justice needs to be done in the Trayvon Martin case, but a racially charged circus atmosphere won’t make it any easier.