Almost all politicians exaggerate from time to time, but U.S. Rep. Andre Carson moved straight into flat-out lying territory Tuesday when he told fellow blacks that members of Congress allied with the Tea Party movement “would love to see you and me … hanging on a tree.”
In an age of more and more demagoguery, it’s one of the most blatant lies I’ve seen — and it’s clearly designed to push political buttons.
I’ve talked a lot about the need to get past the political hatred that’s so much a part of our system today. I’ve said we need to quit ranting at each other and learn to understand where other people are coming from. I can’t add much to what I’ve already said about that, but I want to review — again — why this is happening.
My conservative Republican friends tell me that progressive liberal Democrats are liars and idiots, but the reverse tends to be true, too. Just about every group is angry at every other group. They’re all convinced that the ones who oppose them aren’t just wrong, but stupid and dishonest and probably the cause of cancer, too. In fact, in response to one of the pieces I wrote earlier this week about this, a conservative friend said this:
“David, you’re way off. Conservatives discuss things logically. Liberals get emotional, and it takes no time until they are using vile words to attack and label anyone who disagrees with them. You should get around more.”
My friend is an intelligent and educated man, and he honestly believes that people who agree with him are logical, but the people who don’t are illogical. The truth is that most groups are reasonable and rational part of the time and emotional and irrational at others. It’s part of being human.
We do this about politics because we have a “winner take all” system. If you get the majority on your side, you have the power to force other groups to do what you please. If Carson and his group get power, they would be just as happy to impose their views on the rest of the population as he claims the Tea Party types want to do. He’s simply taking a step further to claim that he knows the Tea Party’s real motivation — which he claims is to lynch blacks. This is no more honest than when conservatives make up bizarro claims about Barack Obama. (No, Obama isn’t planning to round us all up and send us to secret FEMA camps. Obama also hasn’t “admitted” that he’s a Muslim.)
As long as other groups have the right to live the way they want to — and agree that we have the same right — we have no reason to care what they believe or how they live. If we lived in a world like that, we would have no reason to have these political battles. The only reason we have to care now (and the only reason they care what we think) is that our system forces us to put up with whatever the majority wants.
I believe that Andre Carson and people like him are dangerous — regardless of which party they claim or what race they are. Even the people who might politically agree with me are dangerous if they claim a right to control others. Andre Carson isn’t the problem. The system is the problem.