September 18, 2009

When former president Jimmy Carter criticized the treatment of Palestinians by the Israeli government in his 2006 book Palestine Peace Not Apartheid, he was immediately denounced as an “anti-Semite.” To his critics, Carter’s actual argument seemed less important than the fact that he would dare make it. Carter was apparently not aware of the longstanding, unwritten rule that merely criticizing Israel is inherently anti-Semitic, something the former president learned quickly despite his denials.

The age of Obama has brought with it a new rule. To criticize this president is not merely an act of political dissent or policy difference—it’s racism. Just ask Jimmy Carter: “I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man.”

Where is the evidence to back up Carter’s assertion? For many liberals, the proof is circumstantial—Obama is black and his most vocal critics, from town hall protesters to Joe Wilson—are mostly white. Media pundits have focused on random allegedly “racist” tea party protest signs, declaring Obama a Muslim or featuring the phrase “I want my country back!” The Obama “birther” movement is indeed silly, but does that make it racist? And could it be possible that grassroots conservatives simply want their country back from big government liberals? Did Democrats not want their “country back” from the last president? If it is true that whites criticizing blacks is inherently racist, as Carter is suggesting, then that same logic must dictate that Carter is indeed the anti-Semite his critics claim, as a Georgia-bred gentile has no business criticizing Israel.

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Instead of using political partisanship and sloppy speculation to figure out who is or isn’t anti-Semitic or racist, truth seekers should instead ask this: When has criticizing Israel not been considered anti-Semitic? When has criticizing minorities not been considered racist?

I have reached a strange point in our way-too-politically correct public discourse, that when I see the terms “anti-Semite” or “racist” used, I automatically assume those being accused are doing something right. Not that I support or endorse anti-Semitism or racism mind you, it just seems that both slurs are more often used inaccurately to prevent a certain point of view from being considered, rather than as accurate descriptions. If I don’t believe welfare or affirmative action are proper uses of government and cause more trouble that they’re worth, it is assumed I am “racist.” The same goes for being concerned about illegal immigration and the national healthcare plan of a black president. If I don’t believe foreign intervention or aid on behalf of Israel are proper uses of government and cause more trouble than they’re worth, it is assumed I am “anti-Semitic.” This makes absolutely no sense, and yet too many in the media and elsewhere have wholly adopted such rigid PC orthodoxy and habitually reinforce such speech-stifling slanders.

Though many consider Carter the worst living president, I find that honor more accurately describes our last president. While we don’t know what sort of future post-presidency activities Bush might have planned, former president Carter has fearlessly taken many controversial positions to rectify what he sees as injustice in the Middle East, particularly as it relates to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and U.S. foreign policy. In doing so, Carter has been accused of being an “anti-Semite,” an intentional slander designed to undermine his very serious arguments, and that he would now use similar slurs to try to silence those fearful of Obama’s agenda is the height of hypocrisy. Carter’s recent comments make him no better than his critics and shame on a former president who should know better.


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