Ethicist criticizes Rangel’s ‘cracker’ remark

Racial slurs are out of bounds regardless of race, says Baptist Center for Ethics head Robert Parham.

By Bob Allen

A moderate Baptist ethicist compared Rep. Charlie Rangel’s recent use of the term “white cracker” to cooking celebrity Paula Deen and NFL player Riley Cooper using the “N-word.”

robert-parhamThe difference, Robert Parham of the Baptist Center for Ethics commented Aug. 8 in an editorial on, is that both Deen and Cooper faced costly repercussions.

“If it's wrong for whites to speak derogatorily about blacks, then it is just as wrong for blacks to speak derogatorily about whites,” Parham said.

Rangel (D-N.Y.), 83, a 22-term Congressman and founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus, said in an Aug. 2 Daily Beast interview that the Tea Party should be handled the same way segregation was defeated.

Rangell official port“It is the same group we faced in the South with those white crackers and the dogs and the police,” Rangel said. “They didn’t care about how they looked. It was just fierce indifference to human life that caused America to say enough is enough. ‘I don’t want to see it and I am not a part of it.’ What the hell! If you have to bomb little kids and send dogs out against human beings, give me a break.”

Parham viewed Rangel’s comment as out of bounds. “He used it in a demeaning way to label a group with a different skin pigmentation than his own,” he wrote.

Parham said society has a double standard when it comes to racial epithets.

“Regrettably, we tend to ignore or excuse derogatory language based on our ideological loyalties,” he observed.

Liberals, he said, made much of George Zimmerman’s use of the “N-word” but glossed over the black teenager’s use of “cracker” to describe the unknown man who was following him. Conservatives are upset that the mainstream media and civil rights leaders are giving Rangel a pass, he said, yet remain silent when offensive speech comes from one of their own.

Parham bemoaned “the moral hypocrisy of ignoring the derogatory language of some but condemning the language of others.”