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Posted at 09:00 AM ET, 09/06/2011

Andre Carson was wrong to invoke lynching


You may recall that last month I issued four rules for politicians. Never question a candidate’s love of country. Never question that person’s willingness to protect the United States. Never presume to speak for members of the armed forces. And never invoke slave imagery or liken yourselves to historical figures from the era, especially if you’re a Republican.

Now there’s a fifth rule. Never say your political opponents want to lynch African Americans, especially if you’re a Democrat and doubly so if you’re a black Democrat. Rep. Andre Carson (D-Ind.) is the inspiration for this one, thanks to remarks made at a Congressional Black Caucus-sponsored job forum in Miami on Aug. 22.

Some of these folks in Congress right now would love to see us as second-class citizens. Some of them in Congress right now with this tea party movement would love to see you and me — I’m sorry, Tamron — hanging on a tree.

This kind of talk is up there with likening President Obama to Hitler. Or that the health-care bill would institute death panels that would give the government the power to “pull the plug on grandma.”

The Tea Party wants to do a lot of things. It wants to shrink the size of the federal government. It wants the federal government to pay down its debt and live within its means. And judging by the debt-ceiling fight, it wants to do it in a way that could leave millions of Americans without a safety net or other vital government services when they need them most.

But at no point have I heard anyone elected to Congress under the Tea Party banner say or intimate that he or she wants to go back to the days when African Americans “hanging on a tree” was a form of state-sanctioned terrorism that put a de facto limit on the promise of the Emancipation Proclamation and the Constitution itself. Unless Carson has evidence to the contrary, I strongly urge him and others inclined to follow his example to knock it off.

By  |  09:00 AM ET, 09/06/2011

 
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