NOTE: This piece was published by the Huffington Post on August 28, 2013.
Hey, conservative talk radio. What’s up. You know I love you, and I hate to do this, but I’ve got to provide counsel.
I know you’re frustrated with Barack Obama. You don’t understand how he was elected president. Twice. He wasn’t a war hero, an entrepreneur, or an executive of any kind, but a community organizer. (All work has dignity).
You puzzle over how he gets away with things that mortal presidents could not, like telling Republicans to keep their hands off Obamacare while exempting big corporate interests from Obamacare. Or choosing which immigration laws to enforce while suing states over their own comprehensive reforms. Or sending his Secretary of State to blame the Benghazi attack and screwup on an American filmmaker. Or standing by as his Attorney General called us a “nation of cowards” on race.
And when he weighed in on the Trayvon Martin murder case, you had just about had enough. Let it go, you said. This is not about race, this is about self-defense. Don’t turn it into a media circus.
But they did.
So you used your microphones to push back, hard. You didn’t just defend George Zimmerman, you prosecuted Trayvon. You didn’t shut down the circus, you climbed onto the trapeze platform and jumped.
Then came the vicious murder of Australian baseball player Chris Lane, allegedly by three “bored” teens — one of whom had tweeted in April that “90% of white ppl are nasty. #HATE THEM.”
You asked President Obama to acknowledge the murder. Call it a “hate crime.” Tell us that if your daughter had a friend from Australia, he would look like Chris Lane.
Something, anything. Even Jesse Jackson tweeted that he “frowned upon” the violence.
Instead, the circus continued. A rodeo clown wearing an Obama mask got more White House attention.
Which brings us to this week, the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.
On Saturday, civil rights leaders held a rally at the Lincoln Memorial. The number one topic, following voting rights, was Trayvon Martin. The killing and trial was presented not only as a miscarriage of justice, but an indictment of America.
“Sadly, the tears of Trayvon Martin’s mother and father remind us that far too frequently, the color of one’s skin remains a license to profile, to arrest, and to even murder with no regard for the content of one’s character,” said Martin Luther King III.
So I get that you’re enraged. When someone attacks America, you take it personally. But I wish you wouldn’t lash out in kind.
Monday, I listened to a mainstream talk radio host whose show can be heard in the Washington D.C. area. In a span of about an hour, he said the following.
On the March on Washington rally: “… a clown car of left-wing grievances.”
On the civil rights movement: “… a radical left-wing agenda gang of extremist nutcases who are bombthrowers.”
On Trayvon Martin’s mother, who spoke at the rally: “…[she’s] being used as a tool by these radical organizers like Al Charlatan [Sharpton].”
On the concept of hate crimes: “Liberals like to have hate crimes. I don’t believe in hate crimes.”
On the third suspect in the Chris Lane murder: “Let me tell you something about this white guy. There’s a little coffee in his milk there.”
The host also quoted a line about Democrats keeping black voters on the “Democrat plantation,” a racially loaded talking point that is sometimes paired with “poverty pimps” and “race hustlers.”
Then he added, helpfully: “It’s simply not true that I and people like me fan the flames of racial division.”
On Wednesday, President Obama will commemorate the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. He will no doubt say that we have come a long way but we have a long way to go. He will try to shoehorn his political agenda — the debt ceiling, amnesty, you name it — into King’s dream. He will also inspire. The world will be reminded by his very presence that America truly can overcome.
Of course, he will be attacked the next day by talk radio.
Fair enough. But please, my fellow conservatives, take the high ground. Be aware that people who don’t agree with you are listening, too. Don’t just punish. Persuade.
And remember that Dr. King believed in the American Dream, too.