11/08/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Republican Critics of Obama's School Speech Stoke the Fires of Bigotry in America

Barack Obama's stunning victory to become the first President of color in the United States often obscures the sobering reality of the staggering number of people who voted against him. It is important to remember that, while 69 million people supported his agenda, nearly 60 million others did not.

No doubt, a majority of those who voted for the McCain/Palin ticket had genuine political and philosophical differences with Obama. Many were also die-hard Republicans who would simply never vote outside their tickets. These and other reasons are legitimate enough, as an equal number of such voters can be found on the Democratic side.

However, within this immense pool of 60 million who voted Republican thrives a disturbing core of religious fundamentalists, ultra conservatives, and all-purpose extremists whose true motivation -- when you strip away their often irrational and contradictory rhetoric -- is a hatred of everyone and everything that is different from them. They are the true Ugly Americans, who hate the Jews, the Blacks, the Latinos, the homosexuals -- and anybody who believes in anything they do not, or whose lifestyle does not align with theirs. Most troubling, they are the ones who will rationalize violence against someone with a divergent point of view or lifestyle -- as when a homosexual is beaten up or an abortion doctor is murdered -- as something "those people" bring on themselves for being different.

I believe these are the same people who were objecting most loudly to the idea of Obama giving a speech to their school children -- even before they saw what he was going to say. They are the same people who disrupt town hall meetings to shout objections that are often founded upon misinformation or outright lies. They are the ones who parade weapons in public, in the vicinity of the President of the United States, and insist they can do so because, based on the letter of the law in their states, they have a right to do so.

These are the same people who Republicans now support when they publicly validate the dubious argument that Obama's true motive, in addressing school children, was to brainwash them into following his "socialist" agenda -- "Something you'd expect to see in North Korea or Saddam Hussein's Iraq," according to Republicans like Oklahoma State Sen. Steve Russell.

Coloring Their Words

Having lost the White House and a major political voice in the country, it seems that Republicans are hellbent these days on aligning themselves with anyone who criticizes Obama, no matter how ignorant, hypocritical or uninformed that person or group might be. True, within Republican circles, there are some noble public servants who hold to their principles. But they are now drowned out by the voices of Republicans who give credence to the "birthers" who claim that Obama was not a U.S. citizen. And those like Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steel, who coyly refused to condemn Sarah Palin's unfounded "death panel" claim about Obama's health care bill with words like, "You call it a panel, I call it rationing."

No Laughing Matter

Presidential spokesman Robert Gibbs observed that the violent objection to Obama's schoolchildren speech demonstrated that, "we've reached a little bit of the silly season."

Yet, it is sobering to consider that, among the protesters who adamantly refuse to agree with anything Obama does or says for the simple reason that he is not one of them, there is a more unyielding fringe whose members were most capable of shouting frightening threats against Obama during the McCain/Palin presidential campaign. These are the people whom unprincipled Republicans support: These are the people with no sense of humor, and they are the ones most easily incited to true violence.

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