Rush Limbaugh’s latest comment – that Gen. Colin Powell’s endorsement of Sen. Obama, is all about race is misleading in ascribing this motive to General Powell. In fact, leave aside the issue of whether the General’s endorsement is based upon Senator Obama’s race as inconclusive and moot – what is indisputably racially motivated is Mr. Limbaugh’s comment.
Dictionary.com describes racial as “2. arising, occurring, or existing because of differences between races or racial attitudes” [“racial.” Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1). Random House, Inc. 20 Oct. 2008. .]
By this definition, Mr. Limbaugh’s comment is in fact, racist. The reason is that amongst all of the Republicans who have endorsed Sen. Obama, it seems that the only one/s whom he has set apart from other Republicans for his/their endorsement of Sen. Obama is/are in fact, black.
The American Heritage Dictionary defines racism as “1. The belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others.” (emphasis mine) [“racist.” The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 20 Oct. 2008. .]
To single someone out of a crowd is to question their character as relates to the group by which they are being measured. So to ascribe General Powell’s behavior, (which differs with the norm expected by Mr. Limbaugh of Republicans) and ONLY General Powell’s behavior to the factor of his race is by the definition listed above, racist.
Why is this significant? The answer is the lack of denunciation of this racist view by the Republican Party leadership. The fact that prominent Republicans continue to consent to being guests upon Mr. Limbaugh’s show and having their views and his own broadcast side by side is a tacit endorsement of his racist views.
So this is the situation 43 years after passage of the Voting Rights Act affirmed the Fourteenth Amendment of 97 years previous (which – ironically enough – is a clarification of the Constitution dated eighty years previous to that). One of the only two major political parties in this country; one of the only two parties to be allowed automatic entry to the ballots nationwide, actively and openly embraces a man who espouses views contrary to the equality of races, established greater than one hundred and forty years ago.
It seems that the Republican party should get with the 1860’s. Because for all the pride that some of the party’s members take in being the party of emancipation, the party that held this republic together by military force when the calls for secession were loudest, that they have in fact regressed to a point previous to the 1868 passage of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Is this the way that a nationally trusted and followed party should be allowed to behave? Is this the kind of invective that would be purveyed by someone who has our best interests at heart? Are these the kinds of ideas that should be given heed while we face the most daunting set of overlapping crises in at least a generation?
From many, we have become one, and as one nation is it not time to stand up to those who would try to divide along lines that we, as one nation, have attempted to dissolve 220 years ago, 140 years ago, and again 43 years ago.
Can we trust a leader that would speak his name in the same sentence as someone who has done their best to undercut the concept of E Plurbis Unum?