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Race makes the right so uncomfortable

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By Rick Howell

I’m always glad to give John Barnhart material for his “Conservatively Speaking” column. I sometimes think that if I didn’t, he’d have a hard time producing one most weeks.
    My column on the Michael Brown shooting certainly got a visceral reaction from some quarters. Barnhart’s predictable and knee-jerk response (pardon the redundancy) was expected.
    Isn’t it interesting when – in situations like the one in Ferguson, Mo. - it always seems that conservatives are ready to blame the sun, the stars, and the moon before they’ll blame racism?
    Why is that? Well, it’s consistent with their past history and their current allegiance to the myth they put forward as reality: except in the minds of liberals, there is no racism anymore.
    It’s interesting that they would think we have already solved the race problem, and still try to deny that they were ever a part of it. They can’t have it both ways; but they don’t seem to know that.
    Only John Barnhart would call a young black man a “thug,” and not realize the racial connotations of that. Well, only him and most other conservatives. Who, indeed, is rushing to judgment?
    You can see where their twisted logic leads: If there’s no racism, then the white cop who shot an unarmed 18-year-old black man – who by all accounts was surrendering with his hands in the air – couldn’t possibly have had a racist motive or reaction.
    Barnhart identified me as a vanguard of the “liberal lynch mob” that has already decided the cop acted as a racist. Yet I said no such thing in my column.
    I did not “imply” that the officer would have acted differently if his subject had been white, I simply asked the question – a very legitimate one, at that.
    As for lynch mobs, well, Barnhart should know that those were conducted by “good Christian white people” against blacks in the past he doesn’t write about or acknowledge. They were the same people who thought segregation was “God’s plan.”
    Yet, I should be quartered because I got the boy’s age wrong. Given the reaction, you’d think I had mis-identified Genghis Khan as a great American president.
    16? 18? What difference does it make? I surely hope that Barnhart and the letter writers don’t think that just because he was legally an “adult,” that gives a cop the right to shoot him six times while he’s unarmed. Is that what they think? If so, shame on them.
Oh, believe me, I know. When you pen a liberal screed in a rural, conservative area, you can’t make a single mistake. The vultures will be on your flesh in a second.
    My favorite letter was the one that tried to say with a straight face that it’s the Republican Party who is the real party of civil rights. Sure. You can always rewrite history if it doesn’t suit you.
    The writer said that the GOP today was the “party of Lincoln and civil rights.” He obviously hasn’t paid attention to Republican politics since Lincoln’s death in 1865. Go ahead. Show me a link between Lincoln and today’s GOP lineup: Rush Limbaugh; Ted Cruz; and Phil Robertson.
    This writer said my “continued employment” here was “a mystery to me.” That’s okay. I think a lot of things are probably a mystery to him.
    Conservatives were on the wrong side of history during the Civil Rights Movement, a moral failure they refuse to acknowledge. Today, too many of them remain just where they were then. They’ll defend racism, excuse it away, blame anything else but that – and they’re not even smart enough to see how it makes them look.
    Go ahead. Just be careful; history is watching.

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Rick Howell, a Bedford native, can be reached by e-mail at RickDem117@gmail.com.