Crying racism is the new Washington political game.
Racism is ugly, but it is not common. Ever since Donald Sterling was caught telling his girlfriend that she can’t bring blacks to his Los Angeles Clippers games, accusations of racism have dramatically escalated in public life.
Washington politicians are using the atmosphere to stir up racial divisions in an election year.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid united all of his Democrat caucus last week to sign a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. They want the league to force Redskins owner Dan Snyder to change the football team’s name because they consider it “a racial slur.”
While 100 percent of Democratic senators are suddenly outraged by the football team name, Redskins’ President Bruce Allen pointed out to Reid that 90 percent of Native Americans are not offended by the team’s name.
In a letter sent Friday, Allen clarified the facts and also invited Reid to come to a game to see firsthand that the team is a “positive, unifying force” in the community.
Another member of the Democratic caucus, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, said this week that opposition to ObamaCare comes from racism.
The chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee said at a hearing Wednesday that he had emails from people who oppose the health care law “because they don't like the president -- maybe he's of the wrong color, something of that sort."
The West Virginia Democrat added, “I've seen a lot of that, and I know a lot of that to be true. It’s something you’re not meant to talk about it public.”
Sen. Ron Johnson was the only Republican in the hearing at the time.
The Wisconsin freshman told Rockefeller that it was regrettable that he would “play the race card.” An animated Johnson added, “I found it very offensive that you would basically imply that I'm a racist because I opposed this law."
Michelle Obama used a high school graduation speech in Topeka, Kansas, on May 16 to tell students to talk about “the issue of race -- because, even today, we still struggle to do that.”
She told the teenagers to monitor their parents and grandparents for “off-colored” jokes or references to “those people.”
The first lady challenged the high-schoolers to ask for more diversity in their college fraternities, and when they have families of their own, to “insist on integrating your children’s schools.”
It’s not just the left throwing around accusations of racism like free T-shirts at a baseball game.
Pat Sajak, the host of “Wheel of Fortune” tweeted on May 19 that “I now believe global warming alarmists are unpatriotic racists knowingly misleading for their own ends.”
A rare conservative in Hollywood, Sajak explained in a tweet two days later that he meant only to “parody the name-calling directed at climate skeptics.”
The Sterling case could be used to improve race relations if people would stop pretending that it’s possible to have zero biases.
Another NBA owner, Mark Cuban, said Sterling is “obviously racist” and “bigoted.”
The Dallas Maverick’s owner, however, attempted to make the debate productive.
He explained in a lengthy interview with Inc. that everyone has some biases, but it’s better to help people grow beyond their limited thinking instead of simply ostracizing them.
Cuban then gave a remarkable honest assessment of his own prejudices.
“If I see a black kid in a hoodie and it’s late at night, I’m walking to the other side of the street,” he explained. “And if on that side of the street, there’s a guy that has tattoos all over his face--white guy, bald head, tattoos everywhere--I’m walking back to the other side of the street.”
The politically-correct media and liberal advocates flat-out ignored the full context of Cuban's remarks and pounced.
The entrepreneur was forced to tweet an apology to Trayvon Martin’s family (the hoodie-wearing teenager was shot and killed when attacking George Zimmerman, who was found by a Florida jury to be acting in self-defense) but stood by the rest of his statement.
Cuban was right that we all have prejudices. Everyone makes snap decisions based on appearance.
What sets apart Sterling is that he acted on his biases, which makes him a racist. The NBA was right to ban him for life.
However, racism is not biased thinking, and it’s not minor political issues. None of these things are racist: opposing ObamaCare, supporting global-warming theories, all-white or all-black college fraternities and football team names.
Racism is a serious violation of human rights. So it is crying wolf to throw around the hot-button term for disputes that largely hurt no one. Public figures in politics and Hollywood and sports need to stop race baiting.
Emily Miller is the chief investigative reporter at Fox 5 D.C. She is the author of “Emily Gets Her Gun” (Regnery/2013.) Follow her on Twitter @EmilyMiller.