- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The most despicable smear to come out of weekend rallies in Washington were unsubstantiated charges that Obamacare protesters shouted racial slurs at black members of Congress walking from the Cannon House Office Building to the Capitol. No evidence backs this up.

This story was first peddled by Rep. Andre Carson, Indiana Democrat, who seemed “almost giddy” telling the tale to the press, according to a Washington Times reporter who was there. Many news organizations reported these charges uncritically even though the people making the claims were the primary political beneficiaries of the tales.

No such epithets can be heard on video posted by Kerry Picket on The Washington Times Water Cooler Blog, which shows the representatives in question during their walk.

In another incident, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II, Missouri Democrat, who is black, claimed a protester spat on him, and that the assailant was arrested by Capitol Police. Mr. Cleaver said he declined to file charges, but police spokesman Sgt. Kimberly Schneider said no arrests were made that day. Beatrice Wilson and Lori Macomber, hosts of Blogtalkradio’s “All Fired Up,” spoke to someone standing next to the alleged spitter, who said, “They were chanting ‘Kill the bill’ but no one spit on [the congressman].” Police didn’t take witness statements, which they would do if they were investigating an incident.

Maureen Rehg of Alexandria, a traditionally Democratic voter who contributed to Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, went to the rally Saturday expecting some turmoil but found instead that the demonstrators were very well-mannered and focused on the issue at hand. “They were way more polite than we were 30 years ago,” she said, referring to her own activist days. She objected to the use of such charges to chill the “great American tradition” of protest. “It’s hurtful, it’s wrong, it’s irresponsible and it’s terrible,” she told The Washington Times.

Crying racism is the last refuge of scoundrels. And, paraphrasing satirist Ambrose Bierce, we beg to submit that it is the first.