How do you judge whether race factors into a political controversy?

Highly placed political figures are arguing over whether President Obama gets less respect and more criticism because of his race. Opponents of his health reform plan say that Democrats are using accusations of racism to deflect disagreements over policy. How do you judge whether race factors into a political controversy?

I think that I can feel it in my gut, but only after the question has been raised. In President Obama’s case however I think it is more of a credibility issue. If the republicans can discredit Obama then they have a better chance of derailing the democrats agenda. -Gregory Kishel, Chisholm, MN

In my university logic class we learned that the form of the argument was the important feature as to the validity of the argument. If you didn’t know who said something (no identifying demographic information – such as race or political affiliation), how would you evaluate the argument? Race is an artificial construct without biological basis but it’s effects are real. Of course, you have to try to eliminate your own racial demographic influence if you are going to evaluate an argument justly. Too many Whites think that only those who are non-White are influenced by racial factors. Being White is a racial factor also. -Gary Kwong, Falcon Heights, MN

In the 1960s, when I was growing up in SC, race was a subject of open discussion in politics. With the best of wills and intentions, we have driven it underground, where it still roils, grows and disturbs the political landscape. Because of my history, my antennae are always up for hidden racial meanings in political arguments, and they are rampant today. When reckless, dishonest and outright ridiculous charges are thrown about, race is very likely to be driving the passions of those making such charges. Straw issues may carry the day more effectively and achieve the same result as if race were still a legitimate criterion for judgment. -Karen Seay, Edina, MN

When arguments no longer apply or make sense. The “birthers” are a perfect example. In the face of mounds of irrefutable evidence that Barrack Obama was born in Hawaii they ignore the facts, are irrational. Their refusal to deal in facts betrays ulterior motives. The health care issue is extremely complicated and I don’t think most of us can wrap our brains around the intricacies of it enough to know who’s making the most sense and who isn’t. That said, when someone shouts, “You lie!” at the President, it is at best disrespectful and I personally am inclined to see it as racist. -Katie McGuire, Hebron, KY

Race factors into all political controversies, So I judge is it is racial simply by finding out if it is a political controversy. -Alan Ditmore, Leicester, NC

I don’t think in 2009 you can make a judgment about race in a political controversy. I am a child of the eighties who never knew segregation or racism. (I know that I have been accused of both by blacks.) The only racism I have experienced has been affirmative action. I was raised in a small, rural community where there was no discrimination against a strong back and hard work. It seems like today the polarization that is going on is not about race but about who works to pay for the “benefits” that congress would pass for “society’s well being.” My argument is against entitlement, not the color of a man’s skin. -Sonya St. Jacques, Richmond, VA

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