Guy W. Farmer: Dr. Paslov resorts to playing race card

Fellow columnist Dr. Eugene Paslov played the race card last weekend when he accused those of us who disagree with his ultra-liberal political ideology of being racists and/or "nativists" (people who protect the interests of American citizens against those of immigrants). This kind of reckless name-calling is a major cause of the political gridlock currently afflicting our nation.

"Polarization and partisanship are preventing progress toward fixing the nation's ills," Nevada Appeal capital correspondent Geoff Dornan wrote in a recent interview with newly minted U.S. Rep. Mark Amodei (R-Carson City). "Republicans want to kill old people, and Democrats want to drive everyone out of business," Amodei told Dornan. That's the kind of overheated rhetoric Gene Paslov uses to demonize conservatives and Republicans.

Paslov based his divisive assertion on an 1838 speech by President Abraham Lincoln, who condemned what he called a "mobocratic spirit" that weakened government and separated it from "the attachment of the people." The good doctor went on to extrapolate from there, writing that today's "mobocrats" - those who disagree with Paslov & Co. - are thinking like 19th century Southerners who believed in elitism and slavery.

"Racism and white nativism are underlying factors for what motivates some political activists today," Paslov wrote. While he didn't directly accuse the "R's" (his ungrammatical term for Republicans), his target was clear. Although I'm not a Republican - just call me a moderately conservative, states' rights Nevada Democrat - I find his accusations personally offensive because I've had a lifelong commitment to civil rights and better race relations.

I attempted (unsuccessfully) to integrate my fraternity at the University of Washington in Seattle; I had a black roommate when I served in the Air Force at Klamath Falls, Ore.; and I worked with the late Gov. Grant Sawyer, one of my mentors, to desegregate Nevada casinos in the 1960s. Racist? Maybe not.

As to the nativist charge, yes, I generally place the interests of American citizens ahead of those of immigrants, but I'm also a strong supporter of LEGAL immigration, as opposed to ILLEGAL immigration, which costs Nevada taxpayers millions of dollars each year. I don't think that makes me a nativist.

I apologize for making this column so personal, but I react emotionally when people accuse me of being a racist. After all, I was married to a wonderful Mexican lady for more than 40 years and have two great Mexican-American children.

I found another Abraham Lincoln quote that's pertinent to this discussion: "A house divided against itself cannot stand," he said (quoting the Bible) in his famous House Divided Speech in 1858 at Springfield, Ill. He was referring to slavery, of course, but his warning is still valid in our deeply divided nation two centuries later. Divisive rhetoric and careless charges don't help to unify our nation in a time of crisis. I rest my case.


MY POLITICS: On Wednesday, Appeal letter writers branded me as a "left-wing intellectual" and as a "Republican retrograde." Take your pick.


• Guy W. Farmer, of Carson City, is the senior political columnist for the Nevada Appeal.


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