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Vestal: What’s scary is this guy’s definition of what’s racist

Shawn Vestal

Isn’t Obama black and scary-looking?

You know he’s black, right? And scary-looking, naturally. Nothing racist about pointing that out. Goes without saying. But hey – race relations are tricky and ever-changing. It can be hard to keep track of what is, and what is not, racist.

Brent Regan is here to help. Regan, a member of the Coeur d’Alene school board, has recently gone public to reassure us all that it is not racist to say Obama is black and scary-looking. Nothing could be further from racist than saying Obama is – like an assault rifle – black and scary-looking. If you think it’s racist to say Obama is black and scary-looking, it might be that you’re actually a racist yourself.

Regan recently made the following comment at a forum on God-given assault-rifle rights in Coeur d’Alene, referring to supporters of gun control: “My wife and I were having this conversation and I said, ‘They can’t figure out what an assault weapon is – it’s just black and it looks scary. And she looks at me and says, ‘Well, so is Obama.’ ”

Ha! In addition to being hilarious, this, Regan assures us, is not racist.

Here’s how Regan responded to a constituent who mistakenly thought that calling Obama black and scary-looking was racist: “I believe that people should be judged by their actions and then their words but absolutely never by their race. This is the opposite of racism. I also believe a person is responsible for what they say, but not what others chose to infer from those words.”

See the logic there, racists? The persuasive argumentation? The subtle redirection of personal responsibility? The education of Coeur d’Alene’s children is in fine hands.

Regan then wrote an entire column in the Coeur d’Alene Press on racism. Here’s an excerpt:

“The election of Barak (sic) Obama as the first black president has defined America as no longer a ‘racist’ country and his re-election has confirmed that fact. However, criticism of the Commander and Chief’s (sic) actions are now frequently falsely characterized as ‘racist.’

“The irony is that these false claims of racism are themselves racist, and doubly so in that they denigrate both parties. If criticism of the President is based on the color of his skin and not his actions then praise can also be for the same reason. Is the President not able to take credit and blame equally for his actions or must he be shielded by his race? By crying ‘racism’ the supporters of the President are in essentially saying that because of his race the President cannot defend himself on the merits of the argument. This is obviously untrue and I find it offensive. The President’s capabilities and shortcomings are clearly not related to his race.”

See? Calling Obama black and scary-looking clearly has nothing to do with his race. We are no longer a “racist” country – note the use of quotation marks to suggest the possibility that we never really were a racist country, but were just called that, by certain people – because Obama was elected and then re-elected. Once a scary-looking black man was elected president, I think we can agree, all bigotry, ignorance, fear and discrimination vanished. I think we’ve all seen the high-mindedness that all of Obama’s opponents – every single one of them – has displayed with regard to him being a Muslim, a Kenyan, black and so forth.

If this were still a “racist” country, wouldn’t people be making issues of that? Wouldn’t there be a factually unkillable movement to question his country of birth? Wouldn’t there be repugnant bumper stickers and ignorant jingles on right-wing radio?

The problem with these denigrating complaints about racism, Regan notes, is the way they divert us from the “merits of the argument.” Obama is black. Obama is scary-looking. If the president can’t defend himself on the merits of that argument, maybe he’s the racist.

Brent Regan is not a racist. Just because he can’t spell the president’s name or get his title right doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be on the school board. Maybe if Obama had a less black and scary-looking name, it would be easier to spell.

Obama is black and scary-looking. Deal with it, racists.

Shawn Vestal can be reached at (509) 459-5431 or shawnv@ Follow him on Twitter at @vestal13.