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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Vocal Minority Syndrome

If you haven't heard about it already, the Washington Post just printed an article about how Obama workers in Indiana were subjected to a surprising deal of racial animus, with people saying things like: "I'd never vote for a black person."

Now, for the sake of argument, let's assume they were not just making this up for publicity or to frame the debate around whether we're racist if we don't vote for Obama. Let's give them the benefit of the (admittedly valid) doubt. Does the heckling of a few racists condemn the state of Indiana?

If you've listened to local talk radio stations, the tone of the response is quite clear. We're all disappointed. Listening to the Pat White Show the day the article was published, I got the distinct impression that the vast majority of the residents of Allen County are non-racists. Are there a few racists here? Of course. They're everywhere, although in rapidly diminishing pockets. The fact that society (and yes, even Indiana society) despises their existence proves that we are not racists as a group.

One question, however, has not been addressed. What about those African Americans who are voting for Obama because he is black? I'm not saying that such is the case for all black people who favor Barack Obama; that would be a racist assumption to make. Still, I've heard quite a few African Americans who identify with Obama based on race, and this saddens me. This, also, is racism. To vividly illustrate this fact, let's flip the coin for a moment. If I were to say that I'm voting for McCain because he's the white candidate, would there be any question in any one's mind that I was a racist? If I were to say that I'm voting against Hillary because she's a woman, would that not make me a sexist? Yet, to vote for either Obama or Hillary because of race or gender is not condemned as bigotry, at least not by the mainstream media.

Racism is certainly extant in Indiana, just as it still clings desperately to life everywhere else. Those who carry that bigotry, while they may be loud, are few. The "Silent Majority" of us, all of those who didn't say anything racist, are not counted because we are quiet. To label the entire state because of a few idiots is a classic case of over-generalizing. Ironically, it's the same logical fallacy which lies at the root of racism.

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