Obama Supporters 'Crying Racism'?

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Some say when it comes to protesting President Barack Obama, America is showing its racist side. 
    
Others say that is just an excuse for dismissing serious objections to his policies and proposals. 
   
Those charging racism cite examples like the harsh signs and sayings against Obama at events like last weekend's anti-tax rallies in Washington.

"They now see that this might be the same old racism that has steered the policies in this country for years," said Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas.

Many worry about Obama's safety as they see people bring weapons to political events and hear a pastor say of Obama, "I'm gonna pray that he dies and goes to hell."
 
"You know, hate speech can turn into hate crimes," said Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif.

But conservatives say liberals always cry "racism."

"Any criticism of an African-American president's policies or statements or mis-statements are racist, and that's it," said conservative radio commentator Rush Limbaugh.

Conservative Roger Clegg, president of the Center for Equal Opportunity said, "It's a classic case of calling wolf."

Yet, conservatives are also charged with playing the race card, like when Fox News talk show host Glenn Beck made a comment about Obama.

"This President I think has exposed himself as a guy over and over and over again who has a deep seated hatred for white people," Beck said.

Limbaugh's recent comments about a white youth being beaten on a bus is another example.

"Well it's Obama's America is it not?" he asked. "Obama's America. White kids getting beat up on school buses now with the black kids cheering, 'Yeah right on right on right on.'  And of course everybody says, 'Oh the white kid deserved it. He was born a racist. He's white.'"
 
That remark was blasted by a fellow conservative.

"Even if he was just joking he was trivializing something that shouldn't be trivialized," said conservative columnist Rod Dreher.

Much of the debate about race was kicked into high gear when former President Jimmy Carter weighed in.

"I think people who are guilty of that personal attack against Obama have been influenced to a major degree by a belief that he should not be president because he happens to be African American," Carter said.
 
Conservatives said that is just not true of those Carter accused.

"For him to bring such a disgusting accusation against them, frankly in my view, it's now Jimmy Carter who owes the American people an apology," Virginia Pastor Bishop E.W. Jackson said.

Even Americans opposing Obama's health care proposals are being charged with racism.

"I think it's very wrong headed and unfair to suggest that the Americans that oppose some of these proposals are doing so because of race," Clegg said.

Jackson pointed to his own race in the debate.

"I happen to be black," he said. "But I don't agree with President Obama's health care program or many other things. Does that make me a racist?"

The White House said Obama does not agree with the charges of racism.

"The belief is not that this is based on the color of one's skin," said White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. "But on honest political disagreements that have been going on for, well since the beginning of our country."

Jackson said the people who are supporting President Obama's health care plan are losing the arguments on the merits. 

"They're reaching for the least common denominator, which is to hurl an accusation like racism in hopes that that will shut up those who oppose it," he said. "And that will rally support maybe from those who are afraid of racism. And it's not working."

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Paul  Strand

Paul Strand

CBN News Washington Sr. Correspondent

As senior correspondent in CBN's Washington, D.C., bureau, Paul Strand has covered a variety of political and social issues, with an emphasis on defense, justice, and Congress.  Follow Paul on Twitter @PaulStrandCBN and "like" him at Facebook.com/PaulStrandCBN.