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Jimmy Carter racism charge triggers next US race debate

In asserting that some Obama foes are prejudiced, the ex-president rekindles a difficult discussion. The right sees it as a way to squelch legitimate opposition to administration policies.

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Former President Jimmy Carter’s assertion that racism is behind much of the political opposition to President Obama marks a stunning moment in America’s centuries-old racial drama.

In essence, one of the nation’s political elder statesmen has joined a chorus of Democrats, liberal pundits, and mainstream media asserting that the “birther” movement, Tea Party protests, town hall raucousness, and Rep. Joe Wilson’s “You lie!” outburst reflect a “Southern strain” of Americans who can’t support an “uppity” black as chief executive.

Note the ensuing piping of steam from two of America’s base camps: The Southern-based Republican Party that says the Democrats are trying to shut down all opposition to the president by invoking racism, and Democrats such as comedian Bill Maher who say, “Finally, we’re talking about this.”

But how will it all play in Peoria – especially with the hordes of independents, many recent defectors from the Republican Party?

White House downplays role of race

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