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Playing the race card -- or not

Former President Jimmy Carter has decided to play the race card and the Obama administration wants him to put it back into the deck.

Who's to say whether it's too late but now that the cat's out of the bag and Carter has made a stand on what he views as outright racial bigotry being lodged against President Barack Obama, let's talk about it. Carter

Or, not.

Carter has expressed his opinion that the way this president was treated in a recent speech to Congress on health care reform last week was unprecedented -- such behavior never before exhibited on the congressional floor, showing such an enormous amount of disrespect toward the head of state. 

For those who missed it, Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina shouted, "You lie!" following Obama's exertion that his health reform plan would not cover illegal immigrants. Other acts of outrage demonstrated by members of Congress and how the scene compared to the British parliament are masterfully outlined in a column by Eugene Robinson.

Republican National Chairman Michael Steele, who is also African-American, has said that any objection to Obama's policies have nothing to do with race and saying so is an outrage.

But Carter has obviously taken the matter as a personal affront, telling a television interviewer that racism in American "has bubbled up to the surface because of the belief among many white people, not just in the south but around the country, that African-Americans are not qualified to lead this great country."

Is he right? 

After all, does it strike anyone as odd that the president of the United States is roundly criticized for wanting to talk to school children and that some principals and headmasters would not allow their students to hear what the president had to say to them?

Some would argue that this nation, despite electing to office its first African-American president, is far from being ready to discuss race.  Obama delivered a poignant speech on the subject back in March 2008 about the complexities of race in this country which have never been worked through that apparently fell on deaf ears, at least in some sectors.

The Obama administration has, so far, stayed out of any debate regarding the president's "true origin," caricatures showing him in white-face, or other undignified, disgusting and vile references to himself or his family and reports from the Southern Poverty Law Center about an uptick in the activities of white supremacists groups.

Good for Mr. President for remaining above the fray. But is America missing one of its most important "teachable" moments?

Dawn Marie Bracely/Editorial Writer

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