Is race a factor?

Leonard Pitts Jr. poses an interesting question to President Obama’s critics who contend their criticism ha nothing to do with his race.

What would the criticism look like if race was a factor?

Pitts, of course, is African-American, just like the president. So, the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist is likely to be more sensitive to specific elements of the criticism that has been leveled at Obama since he took office in January 2009.

I have many friends and acquaintances who tell me time and again that race has nothing to do with their dislike of the 44th president of the United States. However, here is what Pitts wrote in a recent column:

“I mean, we’re talking about a president who was called ‘uppity’ by one GOP lawmaker, ‘boy’ by another and ‘subhuman’ by a GOP activist, who was depicted as a bone-through-the-nose witch doctor by opponents of his health care reform bill, as a pair of cartoon spook eyes against a black backdrop by an aide to a GOP lawmaker and as an ape by various opponents, who has been dogged by a ‘tea party’ movement whose earliest and most enthusiastic supporters included the Council of Conservative Citizens, infamous for declaring the children of interracial unions ‘a slimy brown glop’; who was called a liar by an obscure GOP lawmaker during a speech before a joint session of Congress; and who has had to contend with a yearslong campaign of people pretending there is some mystery about where he was born.”

Interesting, don’t you think?

No other prominent politician in my memory ever has been called such things by his or her foes. It’s the tone, the intensity of which defies reason.

Those who dislike the president can hide behind their policy differences, they can say all they want that race doesn’t matter to them one little bit.

I try like the dickens to accept what they say and accept that they simply disagree with his policies. To be clear, none of my friends ever has used the language that Pitts cites in his column. However, he is spot on to call attention to these statements that have been whispered and shouted at the same time.

Is race a factor in this intense loathing of the president? I have to say “yes.”