I was reading an article about Paul Ryan the Republican candidate for Vice President that, specifically, addressed the question of whether or not the fact that he had a long term relationship with a black woman, necessarily, precluded the possibility that he was a racist.   The author of the article was not calling him a racist but, nonetheless, the strained premise was that he could be a racist since many racists have ties to the very group they discriminate against.   This creates the absurd implication that even though every indication is that he is innocent of being a racist, he still might be guilty.   Taking this kind of thinking to its inevitable conclusion, it would dictate that when it comes to racism everyone should be considered a suspect.

I am not necessarily promoting Paul Ryan or the Republican Party in this post but I did find this article offensive and indicative of the ease with which some people wield the accusation of racism.   Even more offensive than the veiled hint that Paul Ryan is not necessarily innocent of racism was the article’s rationale that anyone who has an opinion or who promotes policies that would adversely affect any particular minority group must be doing so because they are a racist.   The rationale suggests, for example, that if you want illegal immigrants prosecuted then you must be guilty of hating Hispanics.  Of course, that rationale is both ludicrous and, more disturbing, is dangerous.   Just because you disdain illegal activity and want the laws enforced does not mean you have racial animus or hatred for those breaking the law.   Let’s take this reasoning one step further.  If you believe that welfare needs to be curtailed or restricted you should not then be branded as a racist just because those that would be most adversely affected are minorities.

The fundamental problem with and danger of those that are quick to cry racism is that the accusation, no matter how unfounded, is enough to ruin the life of the accused.   It’s a little like the Puritan witch hunts that destroyed many lives by merely branding a person as a witch simply because someone accused them of not conforming to the Puritan’s strict religious practices or ideas.   The fact that no proof existed did not matter since no proof needed to be offered.  In effect, the accusation becomes the proof.  Those that so readily make the accusation of racism are engaging in our modern day version of those witch hunts.   They then burn the accused at the stake of public opinion before anyone has a chance to check the facts.

To me, a good example of this was the Zimmerman-Martin uproar in Florida.   The question of whether or not this shooting was justified as self defense will, hopefully, be decided in a court of law after a thoughtful review of all of the facts.   However, as soon as it happened there was an immediate outcry of racism before anyone could have determined if it was true and, to date, proof of any racism has remained elusive.   I agree that the shooter should have been arrested not because I believe this was an act of racism but because the justification for any shooting, except for the most clear cut cases, should be tested in court.   In the meantime, it is clear that the shooter is now forever tainted with the stain of racism that will follow him throughout the judicial process and just might prevent him from receiving a fair trial.

Racism once found to be true deserves our disdain; however, we must also understand that despite the ease with which accusations of racism are made in this country not everyone so accused is a racist and that most acts are not motivated by racism.

On Wednesday, Joe offers a whimsical look at the possible end of the world in “The End Is Near”.