The Democratic presidential contenders will meet tonight in a debate at South Carolina State University, sponsored by MSNBC. Recently, some of these same same contenders refused to participate in debates sponsored by Fox News.
Why is this strange? Because South Carolina State U (a historically black college that gets public money) recently did something Fox News has never done. SCSU tolerated the use of the N-word more than 100 times in a recent concert on the campus. To my knowledge, Fox News has never tolerated the use of the word in any context.
Why would these Democratic contenders turn down a Fox sponsored debate while appearing at SCSU? Perhaps because they care more about politics than race and racial epithets. Fox is seen as a conservative news channel (though I dare anyone to suggest that Sean Hannity is more conservative the Keith Olberman is liberal). By appearing in a Fox sponsored debate, they fear they would be seen as giving into Fox's perspective and giving Fox credibility. But somehow, when racial epithets are involved, it's less important because it's MSNBC and not Fox. It seems shameful and hypocritical to me.
Don't get me wrong. The Republicans are hardly saints. In six years of a Republican White House and Congress, spending grew at what seems unprecedented rates, as did government bureaucracy. Corruption in government continues (cf. Duke Cunningham, Peter Abramoff, et al). And abortion continues unabated with the exception of the Partial Birth Abortion Ban which is a tiny step in the right direction. In a world of hypocrites, Republicans have little high ground.
But let's face it: If the repeated use of a racial epithet is not enough to drive you away from a debate site, why is being sponsored by Fox News enough to drive you away? Because politics is more important than racial justice.
Shame on all eleven of these contenders, not because they are liberal politicians, but because they have not spoken up on this travesty.
It will be interesting if any of these eleven do what many said George Bush should have done six years ago when speaking at Bob Jones U. They said Bush should have spoken out about the institution's policy of race and religious differences. Will any of these eleven speak out about SCSU's policy of tolerating and thereby encouraging the repeated use of racial epithets?
Don't hold your breath.