Following a hotly contested debate on MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry show, Republican strategist Ron Christie penned an op-ed in The Daily Beast condemning what he calls the “new normal in Democratic thinking: If you disagree with Obama, you must be racist. Christie’s column comes on the heels of Democratic strategist Angela Rye, and frequent MSNBC guest, that the Tea Party is a “racial” political group.
In his piece, Christie, the black conservative notes that he fears:
Race relations have worsened rather than improved in the Obama era of “hope and change.” Legitimate disagreement with the president and congressional Democrats often is characterized as being racist or racially motivated rather than a genuine difference of opinion on policy.
At issue for Christie was a claim by Ms. Rye during their appearance together on MSNBC that at a rally outside the U.S. Capitol in June 2010, Tea Partiers shouted the N-word at civil rights hero Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) and spat on another black legislator. This claim has persistently been made without any evidence to back it up, and that despite there being videotape of the rally in question. In fact, Andrew Breitbart famously offered $100,000 to anyone who could prove the N-word was hurled at Lewis.
Christie cites the landslide GOP victory in 2010 as evidence that the Tea Party is not racial, arguing that, “I’d hardly say the election results were “very, very racial.” Instead they were a rebuke from the American electorate to Democrats who had overreached.
The crux of Christie’s argument is simple:
Sadly, I think my exchange with Rye reflects a norm in Democratic thinking, not an exception: If you oppose Obama, you must be racist. If you oppose Obamacare and the expansion of the federal government during the Obama presidency, you must be racist. A member of the Tea Party? You must be racist.
Christie pleads that “we should be able to agree to disagree respectfully without invoking race at every turn." Yes, "[r]acism still exists in our society, but I believe most assertions of racism toward the president and his policies are meant to silence rather than to promote healthy dialogue.”
Mr. Christie concluded by eloquently stating that:
If we do not respect our diversity of gender, race, and thought during the Obama presidency, I fear the spread of racial self-segregation. We can acknowledge and respect our political differences without accusing partisans of being racist in their thinking or motivation.
The folks at MSNBC should take Christie’s words to heart especially if they want conservatives to appear on their network. They might want to stop calling them racists from now on. But don't hold your breath.
It is refreshing, however, to see conservative contributors on MSNBC finally getting fed up and pushing back hard against the race-baiting bull that the network all too frequently falls back on.