We will never know if Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) would have screamed "You lie!" at a white president. Or if Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. would have been arrested at his home if he were white. Or if the parents who feared that President Obama was going to deliver a political address to America's schoolchildren would have felt the same way if Hillary Rodham Clinton or John McCain were giving that speech. Or if the tens of thousands of overwhelmingly white protesters on the Mall on Saturday would have assembled against a president who looked more like them.
Many black people, who have endured experiences I can't begin to imagine, would say the answer to those questions is painfully obvious.
"Take a look at the Joe Wilson incident. There are a number of members on the Democratic side who believe George W. Bush should have been in prison, that he is a criminal, yet they didn't disrespect him that way," said Michael Fauntroy, a professor of public policy at George Mason University who specializes in race relations. "The disrespect that's going on with President Obama has race woven into it."
The overtones of race are crackling in the air whether it's a controversy over politics or pop culture.
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