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Thursday, August 13, 2009

We Need a Hand That Will Beat the Race Card

I don’t know if you are familiar with the television series, “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” but one of its episodes provides an interesting illustration. In it, the crew encounters a hostile and advanced alien race called the Borg. One of their amazing abilities is to adapt to the weapons used against them. When they attack our heroes on the Starship Enterprise, the crew is able to kill just two of the Borg. They were not able to kill three, because by then the Borg had adapted to their weapons. What they did was both amazing and easily anticipated: the Enterprise crew stopped firing! Since their weapons no longer had any effect, why should they continue to fire?

Let’s leave that analogy for a moment and consider another one (I will reveal what that particular story of the Enterprise crew and their encounter with the Borg is analogous to shortly). It’s eight in the afternoon and you are about to have dinner with your family. All of a sudden the phone rings and intrudes on your privacy; the caller identification is displaying, “Caller Unknown,” and immediately you think to yourself, “don’t they know people have Caller ID and that their telemarketing won’t work?” But the world of telemarketing plays the averages; if one person out of every twenty they call commit to using their services then those nineteen busy signals, answering machines, and rejections were worth it for them. It is a fact that telemarketing works, and that is why it continues. Presidential candidates don’t spend millions on phone banks and directory listings for fun. I myself worked the phone banks for President Bush when he was running for re-election in 2004 and I was able to make a difference… Bush won.

Where am I going with all this? Over the last two weeks my eyes have been opened; I now see the ten thousand pound gorilla in the room. Two weeks ago president Obama accused an innocent police man of being a racist because he arrested a black man. When asked if people protesting healthcare reform reminded him of anything, Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) said the following on MSNBC: “Well, the last time I had to confront something like this was when I voted for the civil rights bill and my opponent voted against it. At that time, we had a lot of Ku Klux Klan folks and white supremacists and folks in white sheets and other things running around causing trouble.”[1] Chris Matthews asked Cynthia Tucker this question: “Put 100 of these people in a room. Strap them into gurneys. Inject them with sodium pentothal. How many of them would say "I don't like the idea of having a black president? What percentage?” Cynthia Tucker responded with this comment, “Oh, I'm just guessing. This is just off the cuff. I think 45 to 65% of the people who appear at these groups are people who will never be comfortable with the idea of a black president.”[2] They, Dingell, Matthews, and Tucker were talking about people who are standing against Obama’s plan for healthcare reform.

In looking at all these examples I realized something (my eyes opened), the charge of racism is a weapon that people like president Obama, John Dingell and Cynthia Tucker will never stop using because it is effective. Like the telemarketer who continues to call no matter the consequence, it works. Now back to the ten thousand pound gorilla in the room, what is it by analogy with current events? It is playing the race card. People continue to play it because it works. The only way to stop people from using this weapon against you is to make it ineffective. Remember the Borg; the Enterprise crew stopped firing their weapons when the Borg became immune to them.

Sergeant Crowley has led the way on this. He is the white policeman who was racially castigated by the president for arresting a black Harvard professor. Sergeant Crowley stood his ground and said, “No - I will not apologize!” A beautiful thing happened because the president’s racial attack was ineffective against him; The writes:

The president said he should have chosen his words more carefully but stopped short of an apology.”Because this has been ratcheting up and I helped to contribute to ratcheting it up, I want to make it clear that in my choice of words I unfortunately gave the impression I was maligning the Cambridge police department and Sergeant Crowley and I could have calibrated those words differently," he said.

Seeking to lighten the situation further, he said at the daily White House briefing that he had invited both Crowley and Gates for "a beer here in the White House."[3]

The president stopped his attack, invited Crowley for a beer, and did not apologize, which confirms my point that not being a racist is not necessarily going to stop people from calling you a racist; these things are deep in people’s hearts. My pastor mentions repeatedly what experience confirms, namely, kicking a bad habit first starts with a commitment to acting differently; feelings will inevitably fall in line.

If we can get people like president Obama, John Dingell and Cynthia Tucker to stop calling people of good conscience racists (who cares if they think it; what a person thinks does not affect me) then perhaps ten years from now they might actually start believing that not every white person who opposes them is a racist. But it all starts with you my white friends and it doesn’t matter if you are a white democrat, just ask the first black president, Bill Clinton.[4] It’s time for a white civil rights movement, but instead of “We shall overcome,” it will be, “We shall take it no more.”

Danian Michael,
Political Agenda.


[1] Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) made these comments on the cable network MSMBC. But don’t take my words for it, listen to him yourself.

[2] Cynthia Tucker is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist; she writes for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Cynthia made the comments I cited on another MSNBC program called Hardball with Chris Mathews. Read the account at

[3] Read the entire article titled “Obama invites race row policeman for a beer in the White House” at

[4] Bill Clinton was accused of being a racist for attacking Candidate Obama in support of his wife, who was also running for president during the primaries last year 2008

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