08/17/2010 09:16 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Calling Dr. Laura A Racist Doesn't Make Her One

The blog question was straightforward enough: Would a total racist hire a black man as her public relations representative? The alleged total racist is Dr. Laura. The reported PR man is Mike Paul, and he heads up MGP Associates in New York. Paul reportedly is Schlessinger's PR flak. They were pictured recently in a warm and cozy embrace. But for the moment forget Paul, forget his agency, and forget Dr. Laura. It wouldn't matter whether the good doctor hired an African-American and a black owned PR agency, or a white one to represent her. That's a silly, weak, and even contemptible measure of racism and who is a racist, and it wouldn't make Dr. Laura a racist.

The words "racism" and "racist" have been mauled, mangled, and hacked up so much they've lost any real meaning, or substance, let alone useful words to identify anyone with as a racist. You don't like someone's language, they're a racist. You don't like someone's views, they're a racist. You don't like someone's mannerism, they're a racist. You just flat out don't like someone, they're a racist. Where does it end? It ends where the person spewing out, finger-pointing, deriding, trashing, hectoring, or verbally abusing another person as a racist says it ends. It ends when someone can't make a cogent argument to support why they disagree with someone. It's the same as shouting MF or F you at someone when you are stuck, stifled, befuddled, tongue twisted for facts, logic and information to counter an argument.

Dr. Laura is a textbook case in point. Dr. Laura's six minute tit and tat with a caller in which she used the N word 11 times ignited the Laura beat down. Yet, her point was valid. Legions of black rappers comedians, hip hop artists, and writers, make money, shock and fetish out of the word. They give tacit license to one and all to use it. The problem is that when the one and all happen not to be black, all hell breaks loose. They are banned in Boston. Their careers, reputation and image are wrecked. This writer simply agreed with Dr. Laura and her point. Racial double-standards reign supreme and if whites can be called out on this than so should blacks.

Now it's time for a word about racism. Attorney General Eric Holder got it right in February 2009 when he said Americans are cowards when it comes to talking about and confronting race and racism. Sadly, President Obama has not seized the moment and turned the tormenting issue of race and racism into a teaching moment that the nation desperately needs. At least, he should assign someone to take the symbolic blackboard to do it. When that's done, the nation will learn this about what racism. It's an institutional political, economic and social pattern that imposes and perpetuates negative, controlling and oppressive conditions on African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, and American Indians. The institution maintained and sustained decades of slavery, indentured servitude, contracted labor, the theft of land, segregation, and laws and public policy that maintain political, economic, and cultural inequality. This has absolutely nothing to do with an individual's personal prejudices, biases, likes or dislikes.

It has absolutely nothing to do with a talk show host popping off on a radio show about nigger, or whether they don't like the NAACP or not. Dr. Laura could even oppose affirmative action, bussing, support tough law enforcement, smaller government, less taxes, military hawkishness, oppose the ground zero mosque, back to the hilt gun owner's rights, and fervently embrace the tea party and that would not ipso facto make her a racist. Countless white (and non-black) Americans take those positions and have perfectly valid reasons for opposing or supporting them that have absolutely nothing to do with race. The hard line is the construction and maintenance of law, public policy and action to sustain racial barriers and inequality.

Pillorying Dr. Laura as a racist may be a good fun and games venting exercise, but it's no teaching moment on what racism really is. Dr. Laura can't be blamed for that. And it certainly doesn't make her a racist.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He hosts a nationally broadcast political affairs radio talk show on Pacifica and KTYM Radio Los Angeles.
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