UPDATE: Welcome to those of you who are coming to this post from The American Thinker. You’ll discover in short order that the title is sarcastic.

Well, since the health care issue has provoked so much heat (and some light) in the comments, let’s do it again. This time it’s Jim Winkler, Secretary General of the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society, who says that those of you who oppose current health care reform proposals are racists. Really:

Opposition to reform has transmogrified into something far deeper, far more elemental, though. Anger appears to be its salient feature. Racism and fear is at the core of the anger.

And how does Winkler know this? Because the man for whom health care reform is the signature issue happens to be African-American:

On reflection, this should come as no surprise. Immediately after the election of Barack Obama, a spate of racist incidents occurred, including cross burnings, black figures hanged from nooses, schoolchildren chanting “assassinate Obama,” and racial epithets scrawled on homes and cars.

Have such incidents happened? Yes. Are they appalling and fully deserving of the harshest condemnation? Yes. Do they have anything to do with the fact that the majority of Americans now oppose the current health care reform proposals? Only in the fervid imagination of Jim Winkler.

[R]acism remains deep-seated. It rears its ugly head repeatedly. President Obama has been portrayed as a monkey.

I laughed out loud when I read this. Does anyone remember what the left’s favorite nickname for George Bush was? “Chimpy.” (Google “Chimpy” and check out the images that come up.) Yeah, I know–applied to black people, it has racist overtones that it doesn’t with whites. Just sayin’…

Other grotesque racist imagery has appeared about him. The consistent, inaccurate use of “socialism” to describe health-care reform is a code word for racism.

And why is that? Because Jim Winkler says so. One can argue about whether that word is being properly used in the current context, but does anyone really think that if person of pallor Hillary Clinton were president instead, and the same proposals were being debated, that the right wouldn’t be using the same word? As far as it goes, I remember the HillaryCare debate in 1993, and the terms “socialized medicine” was thrown around a lot.

Numerous assassination threats have been issued against members of Congress. Gun-toting people have shown up at town hall meetings. There is talk of armed revolution in the air.

Once again, this stuff is reprehensible. But how much of it has there really been? I haven’t heard that there have been any more death threats against members of Congress than there normally are (there are always unbalanced people out there). I’ve only heard about one person who showed up at a town hall meeting with a gun. As for “armed revolution,” I don’t know where Winkler hangs out, but you’d better believe that if there was talk like that among any but the most extreme fringe nutjobs, it would be all over the mainstream media as a way to demonstrate how unhinged ObamaCare opponents are. It’s just not there.

I’m not suggesting racism is the sole motivating factor for opposition to health-care reform. Certainly the incredibly rich insurance countries [sic–I think he means “companies”] are wary of any changes that might affect their bottom lines. But the ugly rage demonstrated by many in our denomination and at town hall meetings is preposterous.

I’m glad that Winkler is willing to recognize that racism is not what’s behind all of the opposition to reform. And there’s no question that some of what has gone on at town meetings is over-the-top. Still, for one who was firmly in the “dissent is the highest form of patriotism” camp as recently as last year, and who has never written a word of criticism of the political rage of the last six years, to complain about those who are expressing their dissent is more than a bit rich.