Obama ‘White House’ Buttons

Obama ‘White House’ Buttons Seen over the weekend at a vendor’s table at the Republican state convention in Texas: A button with the question, “If Obama is president … will we still call it The White House?”

Another reportedly said, “Press 1 for English. Press 2 for Deportation.”

Lovely stuff, that.

Not surprisingly, as word is getting around many are fanning the flames of outrage and implying that this somehow proves that Republicans are racists.

  • Brad Friedman: “Who says Republicans don’t have class?” (This, in a post titled, “If You Lose the White House Do the Rest of Us Have to Allow you to Stay in our Country?”)
  • John Aravosis: “At what point do we hold John McCain responsible for fraternizing with racists? You don’t see John McCain ever saying that he’s no longer going to meet with, fundraise with, any state parties that promote or tolerate racism (like the folks in NC and TN).”
  • Dr. Slammy: “Good, good. But don’t hold back. Say it. You know you want to. Call Obama that name, the one that begins with “n” – you know, the one you only use when you know you’re around others of your kind.”
  • Alex Koppelman: “It seems not everyone in the Republican Party is sticking to the message and helping to portray the party as modern and, well, not racist.”

So it is. Is there still racism in America? You betcha. Is it going to play some role in an election featuring the first black man with a legitimate chance to be president? No doubt.

But let’s not pretend that one yahoo selling some buttons is emblematic of much of anything. One doubts that GOP officials screen each and every item sold at vendor booths for good taste. One suspects a similar trip to Democratic conventions, let alone state conventions, would find plenty of tasteless buttons and bumper stuckers for sale.

That’s the price of free expression.

via memeorandum

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2008, Race and Politics, , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. anjin-san says:

    one yahoo selling some buttons

    There is a little more to the GOP’s racism problem than a lone vendor. Fox news has proved this conclusively.

    “I’m going to tell you something: That boy’s finger does not need to be on the button,”

    …Geoff Davis




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  2. Hoodlumman says:

    Wow! Aravosis has really beclowned himself with the line “At what point do we hold John McCain responsible for fraternizing with racists?”

    Obama fraternized with Wright for 20 years and he skated to the Democrat nomination.




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  3. anjin-san says:

    Democrat nomination

    Seems like the incorrect “Democrat” usage has become a pretty reliable tell for identifying the know nothing crowd…




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  4. Hal says:

    Not surprisingly, as word is getting around many are fanning the flames of outrage and implying that this somehow proves that Republicans are racists.

    Well, it certainly does prove that some Republicans are racist, doesn’t it James?




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  5. Continuum says:

    “One suspects a similar trip to Democratic conventions, let alone state conventions, would find plenty of tasteless buttons and bumper stuckers for sale.” Interesting perspective. One need only imagine that the other party must be doing it. Don’t bother with facts. Just make something up about the other guys and say they probably, surely, without a doubt, unquestionably must also be doing it, too. Not even hearsay. Just wishful thinking using “the other guy does it too” defense.




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  6. Anderson says:

    What was the response of the convention’s organizers when they saw the buttons?

    I mean, at some point, “just some guy” isn’t an excuse. If one vendor dresses up in Klan robes and sells bumper stickers saying “Protect the White Women – Vote McCain,” is it enough for the GOP to just shrug and say, “hey, free speech, dude”?




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  7. Tlaloc says:

    I don’t think it’s proof of racism. We all know that racism lingers in America (and we should all know that has gotten much better, it just isn’t gone). Rather what this reinforces is the slimy tendency of some to use racism for political gain. That that happens mostly on the right might be worth considering.

    I’m sure McCain’s “black baby” from 2000 has a few words on the topic.




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  8. Spoker says:

    While I find such sentiments as those found on the buttons seriously offensive, I find the idea that I, or anyone, will vote for anyone because his skin color matches mine equally offensive. It seems to me the sword should cut both ways, but doesn’t. So much for the idea we are past racism from either side.




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  9. My question is, where is the proof? The original story shows a button, but, no proof that it was actually at the booth. In this day and age, a reporter did not have a camera, even a camera phone? Most tend to carry Blackberries, most of which have 1.3 to 2 megapixel cameras.

    Yet, they offer nothing by the writers say so.




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  10. James Joyner says:

    Well, it certainly does prove that some Republicans are racist, doesn’t it James?

    Not necessarily. A lot of these vendors will sell anything to anybody; most make variants of the same theme (ala the old “Your Brain on Drugs” bit) for both parties.

    Presumably, some Republicans are in fact racist, irrespective of this button. Ditto, some Democrats.

    I mean, at some point, “just some guy” isn’t an excuse. If one vendor dresses up in Klan robes and sells bumper stickers saying “Protect the White Women – Vote McCain,” is it enough for the GOP to just shrug and say, “hey, free speech, dude”?

    Such a vendor would be more noticeable, no?

    And I’m not suggesting that the GOP have this reaction. It’s not even my reaction. I simply say that free speech means that you’ll get some of this nonsense.




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  11. Hal says:

    Rather what this reinforces is the slimy tendency of some to use racism for political gain.

    Um, doesn’t this actually require an audience? I mean, seriously dude. Even if you’re correct that the people who produced this aren’t racists and merely opportunists – something that seems actually far worse than racism, itself, btw – it still presupposes a consumer/audience that will eat this stuff up which they can leverage for their gain. Therefore, you can assume racists; QED.

    I’m sure McCain’s “black baby” from 2000 has a few words on the topic.

    Indeed. Again, why did they do this? Because they understood it would have an audience. Consequently….

    I find the idea that I, or anyone, will vote for anyone because his skin color matches mine equally offensive. It seems to me the sword should cut both ways, but doesn’t.

    Well, first off, the two behaviors aren’t identical – you’re simply playing the moral equivalence game and you’re doing so poorly. Racism is a belief that another race is inferior. So, voting for someone who is like you – regardless of whether that “like you” is gender based, socio-economic, race based, or whatever is not the equivalent of voting *against* someone because you believe that person’s race is inferior.

    Logic, where for art thou?




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  12. Christopher says:

    Continuum and Ladona:

    The democrats are the most racist party of all. We all know it. Repubs could care less about color. We believe in equal opportunity for all, regardless of race. Yet democrats, its all about race. Sick. Just sick!

    Whoopi Goldberg, in introducing Laurence Fishburne for his title role in “Thurgood,” about the late Supreme Court justice, the “comedian” unleashed the same celebrated blend of social commentary and wit that’s made “The View” must-skip TV. Thurgood, she informed, was “the first African-American Supreme Court justice … actually the only African-American Supreme Court justice.”




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  13. jukeboxgrad says:

    I think it would be wrong to claim that most Republicans are racists, but I think there’s some basis to claim that most racists are Republicans:

    [a] study found that supporters of President Bush and other conservatives had stronger self-admitted and implicit biases against blacks than liberals did … “George W. Bush is appealing as a leader to those Americans who harbor greater anti-black prejudice.”




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  14. Hal says:

    but I think there’s some basis to claim that most racists are Republicans

    Of course, there’s the great Dixiecrat mass migration from the Democratic party to the Republican party, prompted entirely by the civil rights movement. The Southern Strategy of Nixon.

    Etc, etc, etc.

    But hey! We all know that 90% of blacks vote democratic because they obviously have been bamboozled.

    (preemptive Sen Byrd!!1!!, which will inevitably be dragged up from some random mind)




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  15. Tlaloc says:

    Hal:

    Um, doesn’t this actually require an audience? I mean, seriously dude. Even if you’re correct that the people who produced this aren’t racists and merely opportunists – something that seems actually far worse than racism, itself, btw – it still presupposes a consumer/audience that will eat this stuff up which they can leverage for their gain. Therefore, you can assume racists; QED.

    Sorry I was unclear. What I was trying to say is that the existence of the button does not prove all republicans are racist. It doesn’t even prove the one selling the buttons is racist. It olny proves that he or she is using racism for political gain. So yes they are assuming there is some racist audience who will eat this up.

    Christopher:

    The democrats are the most racist party of all. We all know it. Repubs could care less about color. We believe in equal opportunity for all, regardless of race.

    Which is why the republicans have done such an outstanding job of electing blacks, latinos, asians, easter euro… what’s that? Oh. Sorry I must have been thinking of some other party…




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  16. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    I see. It is OK for Obama’s spiritual mentor, for the last 20 years, to give sermons with outright lies about white people and America in general, The man in who’s house Obama began his political career is an unrepentant domestic terrorist, a criminal who had real estate dealing with Obama, (the list goes on and on) and you people want to pay close attention to what some vendor in Texas is selling for political bottons and somehow make the link of McCain? No wonder it is said liberalism is a mental disorder.




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  17. Hal says:

    Um, Zelsdorf? Notify me when the Texas state GOP party disowns the people selling these buttons, bokay?




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  18. rodney dill says:

    but I think there’s some basis to claim that most racists are Republicans

    If true, then you can’t really claim that race is much of an issue, as presumbably the ‘racists’ would’ve already been voting Republican anyway. You can’t have it both ways.




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  19. jukeboxgrad says:

    “If true, then you can’t really claim that race is much of an issue, as presumbably the ‘racists’ would’ve already been voting Republican anyway. You can’t have it both ways.”

    Sorry, but that makes no sense. Yes, there are lots of racists in the GOP, and they would never vote for any black man, no matter what. That doesn’t mean it’s OK for the GOP to embrace them.




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  20. rodney dill says:

    No it does make sense. It doesn’t mean the GOP needs to embrace racism or that is currently embraces racism either.

    The statement I responded to was that ‘most racists are Republicans’ If this statement were true then they wouldn’t be voting for Obama anyway, but the Democrats are saying race is an issue that could keep Obama from being elected. Obama is only hurt by racist democrats and independents.

    I do notice there is a lot of race baiting going on, specifically by those listed in the main post, and those baiters are masters at it.




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  21. KJB says:

    On a recent visit to Florida I was told by two people, both of whom are staunch Democrats, who hate Bush with a passion, that they would never vote for Obama. Reason: he’s black. One of those people is my brother. I have not yet heard a Republican use that as a reason they will not vote for Obama. Why would a Republican vote for Obama? The only reason would be because Obama is black – because logically, there is no other reason. Some Republicans are having difficulty accepting McCain because he’s not conservative enough.




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  22. Hal says:

    Hello? Geraldine Ferraro?

    No one – that I’m aware of – is arguing that there aren’t *some* racists in the democratic party; especially in the south.

    As to “why would a Republican vote for Obama?”… Are you serious? I mean, that’s like asking “why would a Democrat vote for Ronald Reagan” in 1980. Cross over happens *all the time* and regardless of what Rodney Dill or you, KJB, believe to the contrary, it’s how elections are often won.




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  23. Hal says:

    I mean, if you want to see a bunch of paleocons who are so fed up with the Republicans – not just simply McCain – and are almost literally campaigning for Obama, go visit the blog of The American Conservative magazine. Maybe Rodney and you can get an education on dyed in the wool conservatives who are cross over votes for Obama. Or you can read the Cunning Realist. Or the Belgravia dispatch (links easy to find for those that care).

    I mean, your logic is simply absurd on its face.




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  24. rodney dill says:

    I mean, your logic is simply absurd on its face.

    … and I think the hypothetical that I chose to address (i.e. most racists are Republican) is simply absurd on its face. All the fed up Republicans that Hal says are campaigning for Obama counters the point that the Republican part is so racist.

    Racism exists independent of political affiliation, I will continue to resist efforts to have ‘racism’ made a Republican label only.




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  25. sam says:

    Racism exists independent of political affiliation, I will continue to resist efforts to have ‘racism’ made a Republican label only.

    And so does stupidity, but on that, along with being a racist, I’ll go with John Stuart Mill.




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  26. jukeboxgrad says:

    rodney: “Obama is only hurt by racist democrats and independents.”

    OK, thanks for explaining. Now I see your point.

    I think you’ve oversimplifying. Racist Republicans can do more to hurt Obama than just vote against him. They can also conduct various efforts designed to hurt his chances with other voters. In this sense I think your statement is incorrect.

    I also think Hal is correct, that certain Rs will cross over and support Obama. But I think that’s sort of a separate issue.

    “I think the hypothetical that I chose to address (i.e. most racists are Republican) is simply absurd on its face”

    I provided evidence. Your claim would be more convincing if you made an effort to address the evidence. You haven’t.




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  27. DL says:

    What we have is proof that racism is a political weapon and special interest allegiance tool -it will never go away because the people who need to use it as an invective can never afford true harmony.

    They talk up racism in the same manner that they try to talk down the economy when a GOP man is in the Whitehouse- and the racist party is professional at it. Racism in America? You bet!How else, in the words of Geraldine Ferraro, did Obama get where he is?




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  28. jukeboxgrad says:

    Someone else who likes to ignore evidence.




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  29. rodney dill says:

    …study found that supporters of President Bush and other conservatives had stronger self-admitted and implicit biases against blacks than liberals did

    Sorry this ‘evidence’ just doesn’t support a claim that most racists are Republican. They are apparently better at recognizing and admitting their faults, however. (‘self-admitted’).
    I do believe its valid to claim that most racists will vote Republican, rather than be Republican, at least for this election.




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  30. rodney dill says:

    I do believe its valid to claim that most racists will vote Republican, rather than be Republican, at least for this election.

    In this context ‘racists’ means whites that are racists against blacks. Presumably blacks that are racist against whites would be voting more Democrat.




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  31. Patrick says:

    – The parties need to stand up and denounce this sort of thing. The Republicans need to explicitly state that votes based on skin color are not welcome. The Democrats need to do the same thing, after what we witnessed (and still see from some of her supporters). A lot of Democrats (including me) got a surprise about the party makeup when some of Hillary’s supporters were thrust into the spotlight.

    And to accuse blacks of voting because of race? Suuure. Look at how many black voted for Sharpton?




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  32. Hal says:

    They are apparently better at recognizing and admitting their faults, however.

    You say that like it’s a virtue. While admittedly a biased sample, all the racists I know (and I have them in my family in North Carolina in spades) are quite open about their racism and have no issues with it – they simply don’t see it as a problem. Indeed, one of the seemingly omnipresent characteristics of racists is that they simply don’t think there’s anything wrong with it and are quite proud of it.

    So, your attempt at spinning this as a virtue is pretty darn weird.

    Presumably blacks that are racist against whites would be voting more Democrat.

    You are, of course, promulgating the bizarro world definition of “racist” which is quite typical of the right. Just for the record, racism’s defining characteristic is the belief that people of a given race are inferior. If you hate people of a given race because of – say – a history of slavery, or a history of lynchings against your race, etc, that’s not racism. It’s not something that is OK, either, but it is simply not racism.

    To define it as such is to purposefully obscure the issue such that the ability to talk about the issue becomes impossible.

    Which is the intent, after all.




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  33. Patrick says:

    Though Mr. Sharpton was quick to boast that he had bested Howard Dean, Gen. Wesley K. Clark and Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, his anemic showing leaves him hard pressed to present himself as the candidate best able to speak for minority voters within the Democratic Party. It also undermines his strategy of using delegates to leverage influence at the Democratic National Convention this summer.

    ”He is not catching fire with the black vote,” said David Bositis, an analyst with the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies in Washington. ”The black vote is looking for a winner and they are not looking to make a statement about race. John Kerry is one of the whitest guys, you know what I mean. The fact that he is getting almost twice as much as Sharpton is getting, that sends a message.”




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  34. rodney dill says:

    Um… I didn’t accuse all blacks of voting based on race, just ones that are themselves racist … There’s a big difference there.

    As for the definition of Racism, Hal. Your narrow definition wins the bizarro world claim.

    —-

    Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1) – Cite This Source – Share This
    rac·ism Audio Help /ˈreɪsɪzÉ™m/ Pronunciation Key – Show Spelled Pronunciation[rey-siz-uhm] Pronunciation Key – Show IPA Pronunciation
    —noun
    1. a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to rule others.
    2. a policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination.
    3. hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.
    [Origin: 1865—70;




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  35. rodney dill says:

    (Continued from where a less than sign cut off my last comment)

    racisme. See race2, -ism]

    —Related forms
    racist, noun, adjective
    Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1)
    Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.
    Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.
    racist

    To learn more about racist visit Britannica.com

    © 2008 Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.
    American Heritage Dictionary – Cite This Source – Share This
    rac·ism Audio Help (rā’sÄ­z’É™m) Pronunciation Key
    n.

    1. The belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others.
    2. Discrimination or prejudice based on race.

    …and Wikipedia’s entry into the fray.
    Racism, by its simplest definition, is discrimination based on race. People with racist beliefs might hate certain groups of people according to their race, or in the case of institutional racism, certain racial groups may be denied rights or benefits. Racism typically starts with the assumption that there are taxonomic differences between different groups of people. According to the United Nations conventions, there is no distinction between the term racial discrimination and ethnic discrimination.




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  36. Patrick says:

    I didn’t mean to imply that you did Rodney, I’m sorry if it came across that way.

    It’s best of the parties simply announce that they don’t want those votes at all. Maybe we could get the electorate to educate themselves a bit.

    Instead, we get implicit(at best) endorsement from both parties.




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  37. Hal says:

    Or you could visit the southern poverty law center.

    It’s bizarre to try to create an *intentional* definition of racism, which is largely irrelevant in any reasonable discussion (e.g. “man is a featherless biped”). It’s true that, largely due to those who want to create a moral equivalence between racial superior-ists and those who have suffered under their tender care, that “racism” has degenerated in common usage to merely mean discrimination (i.e. mere recognition) of race.

    I really like the standard lines from the right that Feminism is actually discrimination against males, affirmative action is really discrimination against the poor oppressed white man, and racism is simply more of the same.

    Black is white, war is peace and “waterboarding” isn’t torture.

    Y’all have a real track record in this whole degeneration of definitions to the point where they are completely irrelevant or completely unusable. One might begin to suspect it’s an actual strategy or something.




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  38. jukeboxgrad says:

    Rodney, Hal said racism is the idea that another race is inferior. You cited definitions which say that racism is the belief that your own race is superior. In other words, the definitions you cited are consistent with what he said.




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  39. jukeboxgrad says:

    “one of the seemingly omnipresent characteristics of racists is that they simply don’t think there’s anything wrong with it and are quite proud of it”

    Yes. And there’s a word for that: shamelessness.




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  40. Hoodlumman says:

    I’m pleased to report that the Texas GOP has rejected and cut-off the vendor that sold the racist buttons.

    Now we can get back to debating policy differences!




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  41. Hal says:

    Now we can get back to debating policy differences!

    Excellent for them. Yes, let’s get back to “cap n’ trade” issues, along with how silly it is to use Rudy as your attack dog on Terrorism.




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  42. jukeboxgrad says:

    “I’m pleased to report that the Texas GOP has rejected and cut-off the vendor that sold the racist buttons.”

    In the article you cited, a GOP spokesman said this: “After what we consider to be a pumped-up, unifying convention, it’s one of those things you hate to see.”

    Exactly two years ago, there was an article in the same paper, about, ironically, “GOP buttons.” That article pointed out that the official platform of the Texas GOP says this:

    America is a Christian nation

    So it’s nice to know what these folks mean by “unifying.”




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  43. rodney dill says:

    Rodney, Hal said racism is the idea that another race is inferior. You cited definitions which say that racism is the belief that your own race is superior. In other words, the definitions you cited are consistent with what he said.

    Not exactly, The definitions I included are a superset ot Hal’s definition and include

    3. hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.
    2. Discrimination or prejudice based on race.
    and
    Racism, by its simplest definition, is discrimination based on race.

    Some of which Hal stated wouldn’t necessarily be racism. Hal’s context seems to be racism is only white biased black based the belief that blacks are inferior. Hal’s quote below:

    If you hate people of a given race because of – say – a history of slavery, or a history of lynchings against your race, etc, that’s not racism. It’s not something that is OK, either, but it is simply not racism.




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  44. brainy435 says:

    “If you hate people of a given race because of – say – a history of slavery, or a history of lynchings against your race, etc, that’s not racism. It’s not something that is OK, either, but it is simply not racism.”

    What a load of crap.”If you hate people of a given race” then you are in fact racist. ANY discrimination based on the color of skin instead of an individuals merit is racist, and that includes affirmative action.

    This is more of the insane “words mean whatever suits my argument” liberal whitewash. At least I think it is: it depends on what “is” means….




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