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Everyone A Bigot


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Real Clear politics:

Victor Davis Hanson
8/12/10

Anti-Hispanic, anti-gay, anti-Muslim, anti-black -- it is hard to keep track of all the recent charges of alleged bigotry.

State representatives in Arizona overwhelmingly passed an immigration law to popular acclaim -- which the Obama administration for now has successfully blocked in federal court. Arizonans simply wanted the federal government to enforce its own laws. And yet they were quickly dubbed bigots and racists -- more worried about profiling Hispanics than curtailing illegal immigration.

In California, a federal judge has just overturned Proposition 8 ensuring traditional marriage. Voters in November 2008 had amended the California constitution to recognize marriage only between a man and woman, while allowing civil unions between partners of the same sex.

(Snip)

Another controversy is brewing a mere 600 feet from Ground Zero in lower Manhattan, site of the 9/11 attacks, where a Muslim group wishes to build a $100 million, 13-story mosque. Opponents feel this is hardly a way to build bridges across religious divides, but instead a provocative act that tarnishes the memory of the nearly 3,000 people who died at the hands of radical Islamic terrorists.

New York state residents poll in opposition to the project. Their unease reflects legitimate questions over the nature of the foreign funding for the project, and the disturbing writings and statements of the chief proponent of the plan, Feisal Abdul Rauf. They also worry that radical Islamists will use the mosque's construction (it will probably rise before the World Trade Center complex is rebuilt) as a propaganda tool.

In response, once again the majority has been dubbed bigoted and prejudiced, this time against Muslims for asking for a more appropriate location, farther away from Ground Zero.

After lengthy investigation, Rep. Charles Rangel, former chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, is facing charges of unethical conduct. In response, Rangel has scoffed that a plea bargain offer was nothing more than an "English, Anglo-Saxon procedure." The inference was that ongoing prejudice, not moral lapses, caused Rangel's problems.

(Snip)

These diverse cases offer some lessons.

One, legitimate public concerns can be reduced to religious, ethnic or racial prejudice in hopes that the debate will hinge on supposedly bad motives rather than convincing arguments. Ad hominem attacks are always a sign of shaky logic.

Two, in most of these cases, the majority is opposed by a variety of activist groups, government officials and judges. The charge of bigotry is usually expressed in terms of a sophisticated liberal-thinking elite reining in the emotional and illogical unwashed masses. We saw proof of that with the release of confidential e-mails from the controversial "Journolist" group comprised largely of influential liberal journalists, some of whom openly advocated defaming their opponents by calling them racists.

Three, these cry-wolf tactics are now stale. A real danger is that when legitimate charges of prejudice are leveled in the future, most will shrug and ignore them.

(Snip)
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