NEW YORK -- On July 23, the popular rapper, Nas, attempted to deliver to Fox News Channel several boxes full of petitions containing more than 600,000 signatures protesting what he claims are Fox's racist attacks against blacks and Barack Obama. Nas, who had planned to use the "N-word" in his new album title before succumbing to pressure to change it, then appeared on Comedy Central's "Colbert Report," where he performed "Sly Fox," essentially his accusations set to music. In this rap song, Nas denounced President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and Fox host Bill O'Reilly as part of what he calls Fox's "racist propaganda machine." Of course, Nas only attacks conservatives, fueling the grossly offensive and inaccurate myth among his followers that right-wingers and Republicans are bigots.
Nas has made no secret of his support for Obama -- the fresh, hip, change candidate running against the less-charismatic, older John McCain. And because of Obama's youthful appeal and a difficult political environment for Republicans, many on the Left are convinced that Obama cannot lose this election. In the seemingly unlikely event that McCain does defeat Obama, Nas and others may argue that such an Obama loss would represent a last-minute surge of latent racism.
Indeed, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll revealed that 10 percent of voters called race the most important factor in picking our President. However, before concluding that these numbers reflect racial prejudice against Obama, consider that 20 percent of African Americans, who overwhelmingly support the Democratic senator, say race is the most important factor in determining their choice for chief executive. That any voter would consider race the key variable in making up his own mind is disturbing, and one out of five black Americans seems to be doing just that, more than double the percentage for whites.
This raises the issue that will not disappear this election cycle. Interestingly, however, all the racial talk seems to come from the Left. Despite the implication that Obama may suffer from racism, in fact, nary a word about race seems to be spoken by the McCain camp or any prominent Republicans. Yet, race seems to have swirled around every aspect of the Democratic side of this year's campaign.
SUCH TALK BEGAN in earnest with the incendiary, anti-American, racially charged sermons of Obama's former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Hillary Clinton then implied Obama could not connect with white voters, saying, "Obama's support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again." Jesse Jackson was caught on camera calling Obama the most offensive word in the English language. He punctuated his racial slurs with a hand gesture that symbolically castrated Obama. Fox News, which caught Jackson's comment on tape, refused to air his racist epithet. Fox executives deemed it irrelevant. Nas must have missed this detail.
Now, Obama finally has entered the game of racial politics, saying on Wednesday that the McCain camp will try to scare voters by saying Obama "doesn't look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills." McCain's campaign manager rightfully called the remarks "negative, shameful and wrong." Obama's campaign soon backtracked and argued he was not referring to race. McCain, however, should not let voters forget that this is Obama's idea of transformational politics.
It is unfortunate that so many on the Left continue to use race as a political and cultural weapon. And it makes one wonder: if a leader like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. were alive today to watch the first black American win his party's presidential nomination, would King be impressed or disappointed by this historical event? After all, despite Barack Obama's ascendancy, no one can say that race no longer is a factor in this process. And, it was Dr. King's dream that his children would "not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." Maybe one day the Democratic Party, the so-called black leadership, and people like Nas will stop exploiting this issue. Maybe then the number of voters calling race the most important factor they consider in their choice for President would dwindle...to zero. That would be change we could believe in.
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