Barack Obama is No "Boy"
by Jonathan Singer, Mon Apr 14, 2008 at 01:58:01 PM EDT
Here's Patrick Crowley:
The racially charged overtones of the Democratic presidential primary has ensnarled Congressman Geoff Davis after a comment he made about Barack Obama during a Saturday night speech.
During his talk at Saturday's Fourth District Lincoln/Reagan Day Dinner in Boone County Davis, a Hebron Republican seeking re-election, made the following comment when questioning the national security credentials and experience of Obama, an African-American from Illinois:
"I'm going to tell you something: That boy's finger does not need to be on the button," Davis said. "He could not make a decision in that simulation that related to a nuclear threat to this country."
Davis is taking criticism because referring to an African-American as a "boy" is considered by many as racist and pejorative. [emphasis added]
As Crowley notes in a portion of his post not reprinted above, the initial response from Davis' camp was that the Congressman "simply misspoke," a statement that did not include any sort of apology. According to First Read's Mark Murray and Mike Viqueira, the Davis team decided that such a response was not sufficient, and the Congressman himself subsequently sent Senator Obama a personal apology.
It's up to Barack Obama himself as to whether he will forgive Congressman Davis' statements, so I won't weigh in on that regard. What I will say is that certain language is just not acceptable in America today. I don't know what was in Davis' heart when he made the comments (though as Marc Ambinder says, "Davis's comments offend not because they demeaned Obama's integrity; they're offensive because, well, in 2008, for a white person to call a black person 'boy,' is generally seen as racist no matter where you are."). But what I do know is this: If the Republicans believe that they can get away with playing a nod-nod, wink-wink game over the issue of Barack Obama's race in a general election, they are going to be sorely mistaken. The American people simply will not stand for a situation in which a candidate is attacked or called names on the basis of his color of skin, or even if an attempt is made to caricature a candidate's race as an attempt at a joke (calling him "Tiger Woods" or the like). What's more, we the people will ensure that the worst offenders will not be allowed to act as such with impunity. This is not playing the race card; this is ensuring that we don't take ten steps back as we attempt to take one or two more steps forward in trying to make a more perfect union.