Words to the wise: Listen to the words, not the interpretation

Boy, some people fly off the handle at nothing these days. “F— the president,” an unidentified Democrat said at a House caucus, concerning the tax deal President Barack Obama cut with Republicans.

At once, the keen ears of Maureen Dowd picked up a message: “Fair or not, what I heard was an unspoken word in the air: ‘F— you, boy!’” There was no doubt in her mind that this was the message.

“Some people just can’t believe a black man is president, and will never accept it,” Dowd said.

Joe Klein said people were “freaked” by the feeling that the country they loved was being taken over by “furriners … Latinos, South Asians, East Asians … liberated, uppity blacks.”

Did they say this? Not really.

They said it before, about Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., who muttered “you lie” during a speech by Obama.

It was fun while it lasted, but now it is becoming more and more obvious that the attempt of the left to describe opposition as rooted in bias was a self-serving fraud all along.

Wilson was impolite, but “lie” is a race-neutral comment. “Kill the bill” isn’t a race-conscious protest. And the people Klein called “tea baggers” were so “freaked” by the loss of their country to Hispanics, East Asians and blacks that they elected Hispanics in New Mexico, Nevada and Florida; an East Asian female in South Carolina; and two blacks so “uppity” that one beat the son of Strom Thurmond in South Carolina. By Klein’s standards,
“furriners” all.

America has faults, and everyone knows it, but it frequently shakes them with speed. In 1960, Roman Catholic John F. Kennedy ran for president amid charges that the pope was about to take over the country. Eight years later, his brother and Eugene McCarthy (an ex-seminarian) both ran for president and nobody cared.

Likewise, it took us less than two years into the term of our first non-white president for his fellow pols to show him the same respect, awe and deference they had shown to Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

In politics, tribal passions organize themselves around parties, not race, and express themselves crudely. Clinton wasn’t racist when he tried to nudge Rep. Kendrick Meek, D-Fla., out of the race for the Senate in Florida.

The good news is that most politicians are easy enough around people of varying skin tones that they feel free to treat them the same way they treat those of their own ethnic provenance.
Is this progress? You betcha. Is it time to get rid of those race-colored glasses? Oh boy, it sure is.

Examiner columnist Noemie Emery is a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard and author of “Great Expectations: The Troubled Lives of Political Families.”

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