Our friend Byron York takes the bait from Eugene Robinson this morning and gently explains that conservative use of the phrase “take back our country” is pretty weak evidence of right-wing racism. Byron writes:
“In the end,” Robinson explains, “all we can do is look at what the individual does, listen to what he or she says and then draw conclusions about those words and deeds.” Then, noting the words and deeds he has witnessed at tea party rallies, Robinson writes, “I can’t say that the people holding ‘Take Back Our Country’ signs were racists — but I know this rallying cry arose after the first African American family moved into the White House.”
Perhaps Robinson has forgotten that the phrase “take back our country” was a feature of American politics well before the Obamas came to Washington. In fact, it was a rallying cry just a few years ago, in a different context with a different president. In the mid-2000s, and especially in the 2004 presidential campaign, it was common to hear prominent figures in the Democratic Party and on the left in general express a desire to “take back our country.” If Robinson heard it for the first time after the first African American family moved into the White House, he wasn’t listening.
Byron then goes through the paces, citing all of the Democrats who used the phrase during the Bush years. Well, I can’t even remember what Eugene Robinson said or wrote back in 2010 that prompted this, but here is a visual aid I put together that makes the same point as well.