New Jersey State Senator Plays the Race Card

I’ve always thought it was the liberals’ game to play the race card, but apparently there are Republicans who do it as well (note that I did not say “conservatives”). Once again, New Jersey State Senator Kevin O’Toole of the 40th District hid behind his Korean heritage when challenged by the opposition. As if we haven’t been hearing this kind of talk enough from politicians like Barack Obama, now a Republican is the one dishing it out.

State Sen. Kevin O’Toole didn’t take kindly to a “friendly primer” of suggestions from Senate Democrats.

In fact, the Cedar Grove Republican angrily responded with this piece of advice: Be more judicious in your choice of words.

O’Toole said the press-release primer — actually a satirical jab over O’Toole’s role in a state budget tussle — contained a “veiled racial slur” at his Korean heritage. O’Toole, whose mother is Korean, took offense to its recommendation to “smile more. A lot of the time, you seem angry.”

“You’re obviously an intelligent, up-and-coming senator with lots of great ideas who has rightfully shed the common, lower-house affliction of senatorial courtesy envy. But you seem to be scowling all the time. Life is short — enjoy the trip.”

O’Toole, whose 40th Legislative District includes parts of Bergen, Passaic and Essex counties, said it stoked old stereotypes of Asians as “inscrutable,” humorless and grim. Several staff members had a similar reaction, he said.

“Whether it was intended or not, they have got to choose their words more carefully,” O’Toole said.

Am I the only one who finds O’Toole’s claim petty and absurd? Apparently this “veiled racial slur” is indeed so well hidden that it requires dusty history books to be dug up so Asians can reminisce over “old stereotypes.”

I’m not normally one to write about or harp on race, as I’ve never found it legitimate grounds to judge politics, policy, or individual character. But as an Asian myself, I’ve had a couple encounters with Asian political groups that would make Al Sharpton proud, and they’ve left me quite traumatized – with a particular abhorrence for politicians who would, rather than be judged on their own merits and actions, attempt to make their race an issue. Despite the liberal claim of desiring a “color-blind” society, the truth is that this is the farthest thing from what liberals – Republicans who play this card – truly want. In a world where race and racism were never of any concern, these guys suddenly would be left without an excuse that they’ve come to instinctively rely upon.

In my view, crying “you can’t criticize me or else you’re a racist” equates to nothing more than “I can’t stand up on my own to feet so I’ll just use pity and righteous indignation as my self-defense.”

And it’s an excuse that’s getting old fast.

Sharon Soon is a blogger at Conservatives with Attitude! and can be reached at [email protected]

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