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“This president [Barack Obama] has exposed himself as a guy over and over and over again who has a deep-seated hatred for white people… this guy [President Obama] is, I believe, a racist.”

As of late there has been a lot of uproar about the above statement made by conservative radio and television host, Glenn Beck. In this statement, taken from the show “Fox & Friends” he says that he believes President Obama to be a racist. In order to not speculate about the phrasing or the context, you can watch the video for yourself. The statement in question begins at 1:55.

While I completely and vehemently disagree with Beck’s statement, I will absolutely defend his right to say it. The same 1st Amendment right that guarantees him his freedom of speech, and freedom of press, affords me the right to voice my opinions and, when needed, call into question things I don’t agree with.

This is especially hard for Christians to understand, but if you want the freedom to proclaim the Gospel, you had better stand up for the rights of others, even when you disagree with their statements. If you take away their voice, you move a step closer to giving away your own.

If I want to keep my right speak my mind, at all times, and to voice my opinion, while now on a smaller platform, but perhaps one day on a larger, more national one, I must defend everyone’s right to speak their mind. To not do that, would jeopardize my ability to speak my mind one day down the road.

An organization called ColorOfChange.org has organized a petition that requests advertisers to pull their commercials and money from Beck’s program. ColorOfChange.org’s website says this:

Fox’s Glenn Beck recently said President Obama is “a racist” and has a “deep-seated hatred for white people.” Beck is on a campaign to convince the American public that President Obama’s agenda is about serving the needs of Black communities at White people’s expense. It’s repulsive, divisive and shouldn’t be on the air.

Join us in calling on Beck’s advertisers to stop sponsoring his show.

And the petition is working. With over 45,00 signatures they have convinced 3 companies to remove their sponsorship. A press release, detailing the success, reads:

Three companies who run ads during Glenn Beck — NexisLexis-owned Lawyers.com, Procter & Gamble and Progressive Insurance — today distanced themselves from Beck. LexisNexis has pulled its advertising from Beck and says it has no plans to advertise on the program in the future. Both Procter & Gamble and Progressive Insurance called the Beck advertising placements an error that they would correct.

The decision by the three companies comes as over 45,000 ColorOfChange.org members call on advertisers to pull their ads from Glenn Beck after the controversial news host called President Obama a “racist” who “has a deep-seated hatred for white people” on “Fox & Friends” last week.

It’s great that they’re able to rally people together around a cause and get the results they were looking for, definitely. However, if we pulled advertising from a program every time we heard something offensive or something we didn’t agree with, no one would be able to hold steady sponsorship. No one agrees with anyone all of the time. That variety of opinion and diversity of views are part of what makes America great!

So I’m left wondering… why are we so shocked and, for some, offended at the situation? Is it because there is a man calling the President a racist? Or does it have to do with the races of the 2 men involved? How would it have played out if Glenn Beck was a black man? Does it make a difference that Obama, while associating more with his black heritage, is mixed instead of being white?

I think the answer is “all of the above.”

Anytime someone brings a criticism against the President it’s met with great resistance, but being that we’re in “post-racial” America, using a word such as strong as “racist” would definitely rub folks the wrong way. And that’s understandable, but we will only get past race once we no longer see it & use it as a reason, excuse or barrier. For now, race is still very much an issue in the majority of things we do.

Think back to 2005, and similar situation played out when artist, Kanye West, declared, that then President, George Bush “doesn’t care about black people.” Whether Bush did or didn’t care about black people is irrelevant, as it is concerning whether President Obama is racist. Kanye simply voiced his opinion that he believed the President to not care about African Americans due to his response in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, and received far less backlash. Although he didn’t use the word “racist” as Beck did, he implied something eerily similar.

Why do we, seemingly, find it more acceptable for a black to call out a white as racist? Why the outrage when a white calls a black a racist? Is it perhaps, because, we believe the only thing most whites know about race is what they see on movies or television, which we know to be such an accurate depiction? That may have some merit. But is there a deeper reason? Could it be that most still hold the opinion which says that blacks could never be racist?

I think if a black man in the same position as Glenn Beck had made the same comment, there wouldn’t have been the same backlash. Why? Perhaps because it’s always different when a person from one race calls someone of another race, a racist. There’s no need for justifiable evidence or proof. It’s almost as if the accusation in and of itself is all the jury you need to convict them. Or maybe we’d just overlook it because, if they’re both the same color, well, they should know their mindset behind their words, right?

Or would we have had the same responses had both men been white? No. It’s much harder for a white to spot another white who holds prejudices, partly because most hold the same biases without even knowing it. Or maybe they do know it, but overlook it since “everyone else is doing it” and most are getting ‘away’ with it.

But what white, or black, for that matter, would label someone of their own race as a racist without fear of being called a “race traitor” themselves? Most would consider it, but think it not worth the issues to stand up for a people not their own color.

At the end of the day, I don’t know that any answer really makes a difference. We’ll all wake up tomorrow and more people will say more offensive things and we’ll all still be shocked that prejudice exists because, how could it, we have a black President. Surely, in 2009 we don’t still have bigots and idiots who still hold bias and prejudice! I got news for you, we do.

Welcome to America. Land of (the) free (speech, unless you offend someone) and home of the brave (except when others disagree with you).

{For more from Stuart McDonald, check out his personal blog and follow him on Twitter}

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