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John Kass: Race card slowly loses its sting through overuse as we head toward 2020

Some 60 million voters who cast ballots for President Donald Trump in 2016 are once again being kicked to the margins of society and shamed as racists, all because of Trump's idiotic thumbs on Twitter.

Most of America knows by now that he tweeted out something absurdly crass, even for Mr. Trump, telling four hard-left Democratic freshman congresswomen who loathe him to “go back” from where they came.

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The four are American. They are women of color. They say Mr. Trump’s tweet was racist. Many Democrats and more than a few Republicans agree, as do I. I think it was profoundly un-American of Me. Trump to have told Americans to “go back” to their own country. This is their country, even if they loathe much of what America stands for.

As the son of immigrants, I've been told that, too, growing up in Chicago, where the first question of the South Side to newcomers wasn't "Who are you?" but rather, one of ethnicity: "Whaddare ya?" (What are you?)

I didn't take it as racist, but then I'm not a woman of color. I just took it as asinine.

The controversy gave license to many on the left to put Trump voters in that worn basket of deplorables. Yet the outrage marshaled by the media, in their role as Democratic handmaidens, is deeply cynical, designed to separate Mr. Trump from suburban voters in 2020.

But overuse of the race card is causing it to lose its sting. And suburbanites know Democrats are expert in using race through government to leverage power and determine who gets hired and who gets promoted, who is leveraged into elite universities, who gets the public contract, who is allowed to speak and who is shamed into silence.

Politics as outrage in the vicious game of who wins and who loses is nothing new. But what about all those other alleged Republican racists out there?

Like Mitt Romney, the Republican milquetoast. He’s now treated as an ally by media, but back in the day, when he sinned by trying to defeat then-President Barack Obama, wasn’t he a racist? Democrats said as much, so therefore it must have been true.

Joe Biden, then-vice president, condemned Romney and Wall Street banks as slave masters.

“They’re going to put y’all back in chains,” insisted Mr. Biden, using his Southern accent to speak to an African American audience.

Y'all.

I don’t remember Mr. Obama sternly pressed endlessly by reporters — with righteous fingers wagging in his face — about the clumsy racial comments of Mr. Biden.

The late Sen. John McCain, now a hero in death because he loathed Mr. Trump in life, and beloved by the liberal media as their Republican “Maverick,” was also vilified as a racist for how he campaigned against Mr. Obama. He dared suggest that Mr. Obama of Chicago had benefited from the corrupt Chicago Democratic machine.

In those days even inanimate objects could be condemned as racist, like those Obama Chia heads — the “Happy Obama” and “Determined Obama” — that were removed from shelves due to complaints of disrespect, which was thought a crime against Mr. Obama.

When I grew an Obama Chia side by side with a Romney Chia, the Obama hair was thick, yet the Romney Chia hair came out long and stringy, like the locks of rocker Joe Walsh.

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"They're not racist!" insisted Chia founder Joe Pedott, who grew up in a Chicago orphanage, of his Obama Chia heads.

But whether the heads were racist or not didn't matter. What mattered was fear. And the offending Obama Chia heads were removed.

All this isn't new. The use of race cards to shame people into submission and force them on the defensive has been an important arrow in the Democratic quiver for many decades now.

Judge Robert Bork, the brilliant conservative nominated for the Supreme Court, was fitted for a white hood by Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts.

"Robert Bork's America is a land in which ... blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters," said Kennedy.

Think of it. Kennedy painted Bork and Republicans with the Jim Crow brush. But the media loved Kennedy. Or at least the media loved the idea of a once-and-future Arthurian romance that had Kennedy shaping American culture and politics. Kennedy wasn't held to account for his attack on Bork. He was, well, lionized.

Kennedy also warned that racist Republicans would preside over a land where "schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of the Government."

But in schools these days, writers and artists are censored by the Thought Police of the Democratic left. A San Francisco school board decided that a mural of George Washington at a local school is to be erased. The name of Thomas Jefferson, who like Washington also owned slaves, is being stricken from celebrations in Virginia.

The list of sinners pointed out in spasms of virtue-signaling, just as witches were pointed out hundreds of years ago in Salem, is endless.

Budweiser beer was racist until it cut the Rev. Jesse Jackson's sons in on the beer business in Chicago. Nick Sandmann, that teenager from Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky, was portrayed as a racist across many media platforms simply for smiling, nervously, while wearing a Trump hat at a pro-life rally in Washington.

So rather than risk being publicly shamed, millions of Americans lapse into a sullen silence.

Mr. Trump is eager to elevate political enemies like the four congresswomen of what’s called “The Squad” so they may become the angry Mount Rushmore of the new Socialist Democratic Party. And the hard-Democratic left, with its black-clad antifa shock troops, has Mr. Trump and his followers on which to feed.

And what simmers out there in that silence is dangerous.

John Kass is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune. His Twitter handle is @john_kass.

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