When participants on the liberal virtual community JournoList wanted to stifle debate about then-candidate Barack Obama’s affiliation with the controversial Rev. Jeremiah Wright, they resorted to a favorite liberal tactic. It was late 2008, and America was in the throes of the heated campaign for president. Thanks to reporting by the Daily Caller, we now know that the liberal plan laid out by Washington Independent reporter Spencer Ackerman was to “take one of them - Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares - and call them racists.”
When all of this was exposed recently, many Americans were stunned. But to those of us who are closely involved in immigration issues, the suggestion didn’t come as much of a surprise. After all, it is a time-honored tactic used often by liberals to stifle debate about border security and immigration enforcement.
In the liberal worldview to which President Obama subscribes, if you want to enforce immigration laws, you are a racist. Consider the reactions of Mr. Obama, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and State Department officials to the passage of an immigration enforcement law in Arizona.
Mr. Holder said, “I think it has the possibility of leading to racial profiling and putting a wedge between law enforcement and a community that would, in fact, be profiled.” Though he professed to the “fact” that individuals would be racially profiled, Mr. Holder later admitted under questioning by my Republican colleague Rep. Ted Poe of Texas at a House Judiciary Committee hearing that he hadn’t even read the law.
But the worst may have come from the president himself. First, Mr. Obama made the wild claim that “if you are a Hispanic American in Arizona … if you don’t have your papers and you took your kid out to get ice cream, you’re going to be harassed.” Then, while at the podium in the White House Rose Garden with Mexican President Felipe Calderon, Mr. Obama called the law “a misdirected effort” and said it “has the potential of being applied in a discriminatory fashion. … And the judgments that are going to be made in applying this law are troublesome.” His message: This law is about race, not law enforcement, and those who carry it out will make poor judgments because of race.
Given their declarations, one would expect that when the Obama administration sued the state of Arizona, it would have raised these concerns. That’s how the American justice system works - you make an accusation, you state your evidence in court, and an impartial arbiter decides. Not in this case.
Despite all of its attempts to sway Americans’ views in the court of public opinion, the Obama administration didn’t even try to make the same accusations before a court of law. In court, it would have been required to present evidence to prove its claims. But it didn’t have any evidence, and that’s why it didn’t make those claims.
The bottom line: While Mr. Obama says he wants to unite Americans, his actions divide us. He is bound by his liberal disposition to assume the worst about those with whom he disagrees. Mr. Obama, in the liberal tradition, resorts to insinuating that others are racists when he wants to stifle legitimate public-policy debates. And, though it is tradition in liberal circles, it is a dangerous thing for a president - especially at a time when on issue after issue, more and more Americans disagree with his decisions.
Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas is the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee.