ThinkProgress filed this report from West Palm Beach, FL.
Following Barack Obama’s historic election in 2008, comedian Stephen Colbert declared that because our nation had just elected its first black president, “racism is over.” “We did it!” celebrated the comedian with a chyron reading “Racism: 1776-2008”.
Despite Colbert’s obvious satire, the “racism is over” meme has caught on with at least one Republican presidential candidate: former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson.
ThinkProgress spoke with Johnson at a stop in West Palm Beach, FL. During a question about the Fair Labor Standards Act, Johnson abruptly shifted gears and declared that because “we elected a black president,” this shows that “we are colorblind” and “we’re not a discriminate (sic) nation”:
KEYES: Do you think that the Fair Labor Standards Act, for instance, would pass constitutional muster?
JOHNSON: I think that they do go overboard, that these protections do really exist. We elected a black president. I think that we clearly have shown that we are colorblind. Colorblind and we’re not a discriminate (sic) nation.
Unfortunately, racism is far from a historical relic in our society. A poll this month found that nearly half of Republicans in Mississippi want to ban interracial marriage. Nor is the political realm immune from discrimination. Virginia Senate candidate George Allen (R) recently asked a black journalist “what position did you play?” (The reporter did not play a sport.) Even this week, a Republican official in southern California circulated an email depicting President Obama as an ape. And Johnson’s assertion that “we clearly have shown” we don’t discriminate would be news to the nation’s 2.5 million Muslims who learned last month that they would be unwelcome in a Herman Cain presidency.
Despite what Stephen Colbert and Gary Johnson believe, bigotry is still a persistent evil in our society.