No matter how poorly the economy performs, no matter how many scandals surround the administration, no matter how weakly the president’s jobs plan is received by legislators and the public, Samuel L. Jackson can see no reason why the Tea Party might oppose Barack Obama’s reelection other than race. From an interview with New York Magazine:

While we were on the subject, we asked Jackson if he agreed with fellow thespian Morgan Freeman, who caused something of a ruckus recently after he claimed that the tea party is racist. “It’s pretty obvious what they are,” Jackson told us. “The division of the country is not about the government having too much power. I think everything right now is geared toward getting that guy out of office, whatever that means,” he said, echoing Freeman. “It’s not politics. It is not economics. It all boils down to pretty much to race. It is a shame.”

But my question is: If even after Obama does have a record on which to run, if even after he’s no longer campaigning strictly on appearance and charisma, if even then “it all boils down pretty much to race,” when does it not? Will Obama’s race always be the scapegoat for disapproval of his ineffective administration, will his race always blind his supporters to the reality of all that’s wrong with the policies he’s advanced? When will we ever advance into a post-racial society?

Also in the Jackson interview, the actor said he wasn’t surprised to learn of the Perry hunting camp scandal. “I grew up in the segregated South; nothing surprised me. That’s not surprising at all.” Jackson even suggested the scandal might help Perry score points in some quarters. I happen to be in the camp that regards WaPo’s “bombshell” as a hit piece and a scandal of overblown proportions, but, nevertheless, I hope it’s not true that the now-erased name of a camp Perry’s family occasionally leased might be cause for celebration among some rather than cause for concern and denouncement. But the half of me that recognizes the persistent irrationality and vengefulness that often plague human hearts suggests Jackson’s statements might have some truth. Once again, I am reminded of just how keenly our past experiences shape our present opinions, of the truth that true racism has and does exist.

But calling what is not racism — what is actually the discernment of policy causes and effects, the discernment of leadership potential and demonstrated ability — by that word devalues the word itself and leaves us all at a loss as to how to describe and censure true discrimination.

Tea Party activist Ali Akbar has invited Morgan Freeman to experience the Tea Party for himself and has encouraged other Tea Partiers to send Morgan Freeman a message and a Gadsden flag at the website YourMoveMorgan.com. No word yet as to whether Freeman has accepted that invitation, but, with that invitation, Freeman has the opportunity to lead the conversation in a constructive direction — away from the inflammatory topic of race and toward the questions of just what kind of a society we really do want to be.