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Are You A Racist?

Today, I'm handing the blog over to Tell Me More editor Alicia Montgomery. Take it away, Alicia.

You're a RACIST!

Now that I've got your attention, I just want to say I don't mean it ... not exactly. I don't know you. But if you'll just read the rest of the blog, you'll understand what made me angry enough to call you that.

I believe it's that kind of thinking that drives many political leaders and gadflies to throw around the word "racist." It's a rhetorical bomb that pushes people's buttons so much, some commentators hope it will lock their attention to a story about some important, but complicated issue like trade policy, juvenile justice or health care reform. Also, in supposedly post-racial America, it's a useful synonym for "villain" ... someone who you know — but can't PROVE — is up to no good.

That's one reason why our Political Chat today — about the use of the word "racist" in media and politics — is so timely. Essayists Ross Douhtat and Kelefa Sanneh dissect the evolving meaning of the "r" word, and why its use seems to be soaring after the election of a black president.

It's a provocative conversation that I hope you find as intriguing and thoughtful as I did.