Over at Right Wisconsin, I have a column on the notion that Barack Obama is somehow subjected to more abuse or disrespect than other Presidents. Until this week, I would have thought that the idea that opposition to President Obama can be dismissed as based on his race was either intellectually lazy or simple partisan mischief.
If in a particularly ornery mood, I might have pointed out that this view is, in its own way, a manifestation of political hatred and ignorance. It should not he hard to understand why conservatives and libertarians would be apoplectic over a President who, whether you like him or not, is a pretty strong statist and fairly far to the left by recent standards. You can disagree with them, but to believe that they could have no reason for their opposition other than race is to refuse to even listen to those you disagree with. it It is to accuse them of subscribing to a noxious set of views without the slightest evidence.
In short, flinging allegations of racism at the President's critics is every bit as divisive and demagogic as the worst you may imagine about the late 60s GOP's supposed "southern strategy."
But it may even be worse than that.
If all you do is follow the mainstream media (including this newspaper). you probably have never read this story. (Indeed, to get the story locally, you would have had to listen to the "hateful" people on talk radio who "destroy everything that is good in our lives.")
At a holiday parade in Norfolk, Nebraska, someone entered a float that depicted the Obama Presidential Library as an outhouse. There was some kind of mannequin - described as "zombie-like" - that the proprietor of the exhibit said was supposed to be himself and not the President. He says he is a veteran and was depicting himself as dismayed by the poor care at VA hospitals.
Others disagree. They say that he was portraying the President outside of an outhouse. I don't care. Let's assume it was the President.
The float was, in my view, simple-minded and unimaginative. Potty humor got old for me sometime around 1962. I also tend to agree with the idea that Fourth of July parades aren't the best venue for political commentary.
The float certainly was not original. President George W. Bush's future Presidential library was also portrayed by as an out house - but not by an obscure float in a relatively small town. To the contrary, the Bush Presidential Outhouse was a product of Mike Luckovich, a nationally syndicated political cartoonist who has received two Pulitzer prizes for his brand of progressive potty humor.
And that was his constitutionally protected right. I would have thought that we were permitted to mock our Presidents. We've sure done a lot of it.
But, no. The Department of Justice has actually sent representatives to Nebraska to address this potential violation of our civil rights laws. It's Community Relations Services team has been dispatched to "resolve" this objectionable criticism of the boss.
I could explain all of the reasons why this is wrong, but I shouldn't have to.
If you aren't bothered by the idea that the federal government would send agents to investigate and "mediate" criticisms of the head of the federal government, you are not a civil libertarian. Don't tell me that you give to the ACLU. Don't explain how groovy you are on gay marriage, abortion, marijuana or the NSA. You have no regard for the First Amendment. You are committed to freedom for yourself and those like you, but not for others.
Cross posted at Purple Wisconsin.