During the election, there was (thankfully) very little discussion of Mitt Romney's religion, but quite a bit about Barack Obama's race. The word racist got thrown around a lot, and I'll admit that I brought up the subject of racism a few times myself.
I just couldn't understand the level of hatred for the president. There's simply no way that people could be that fired up about a crappy economy or even about socialism (which was wrongly applied to Obama by millions of people who don't understand the term). There had to be an element of race in there somewhere.
Therefore, as the holidays approach, I offer this public service that might help you deal with those inner demons. Together, we will answer the question that asks:
AM I AUTOMATICALLY A RACIST?
• If I get really upset when I see a vehicle with Mexican plates blow by me going 80 mph on the freeway or 55 on Oracle Road?
Answer: No, you're normal. That angers just about everybody. And don't let those whiners from some group like Los Hermanos Sin Bardas Con Agua Para Tu Madre try to guilt you by claiming that you're picking on Mexicans. I'm sure that we'd all be equally upset if we witnessed the same behavior from someone driving a car with plates from China or Cameroon or Diego Garcia. But you hardly ever see those in Tucson.
Plus, they can save all that crap about different cultures. Go to their country and break the law, and see how nicely you get treated.
A friend of mine in law enforcement tells me that they don't even bother stopping vehicles with Mexican plates, because they know that the tickets won't get paid and/or the drivers won't show up in court. Boy, it's a good thing that information isn't common knowledge among Mexican drivers.
• If I belong to the Tea Party?
Answer: No, but it probably helps.
• If I think that Megyn Kelly of Fox News is better-looking than Lucy Liu?
Answer: That's just different strokes. Besides, Lucy Liu ain't all that. However, if you think that Megyn Kelly is better looking than Halle Berry, Jennifer Lopez, Grace Park and Padma Lakshmi, perhaps you might consider broadening your horizons.
However, if you think that Greta Van Susteren of Fox News is better looking than Halle Berry, Jennifer Lopez, Grace Park, and Padma Lakshmi, well ...
• If I'm a right-wing radio talk show host and I use obviously racial references and sound bites to get my gun-totin', God-fearin', Obama-hatin' audience all riled up?
Answer: There's no way of knowing, but you're probably just a jerk, which is part of the job description for people in your line of work. The bigger the jerk, the bigger the audience.
What really kills me about these guys (and Tucson has at least two of them) is that they could play a sound bite from an episode of the old Amos 'n' Andy TV show, and when a caller complained about the use of racial stereotypes, the host would say, "I never brought up race; you did!"
That doesn't make the host a racist, but neither does it put him on the side of the angels.
(You'll notice that I didn't mention the Amos 'n' Andy radio show, because the two actors on radio were both white doing exaggerated black voices.)
I tuned in the other day and caught one of the morning guys using the phrase "Obama phone," as though there is some administration program handing out free cell phones in the inner city in exchange for votes, which is what deflated gasbag Rush Limbaugh claims. I don't have a whole lot of space to go into it here, but please do yourself a favor, and look up the Lifeline program, which was the idea of Republican Sen. Bob Packwood back in 1983 and was quickly adopted by the administration of that conservative demigod, Ronald Reagan. It was designed to provide phone service to low-income households.
Yes, the Obama cell phone was originally the Reagan landline phone, funded through a surcharge on phone bills and administered through a nonprofit organization. Are there abuses of the program? Almost certainly. But when the program first began back in the 1980s in California, a spokesman for Pacific Bell told the Los Angeles Times that the company had no way of verifying the financial status of people who signed up for the free phone service, adding that several doctors were using the program.
So, if you talk-show guys want people to take your arguments seriously, maybe you should stop using low-brow stereotypes to lie to your audiences.
Now back to our regularly scheduled column.
• If I don't even like the thought of fried chicken?
Answer: No, but you're probably a vegan. At least a racist can be reasoned with. And they generally don't smell funny.
• If I voted for Barack Obama strictly because he's black?