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Published: Saturday, 4/8/2006

Racism or denial?

PLAYING the race card to divert attention from the real issue is never justified. But apparently it seemed an easy way out for a Georgia congresswoman who scuffled with Capitol Hill police.

Rep. Cynthia McKinney should have been well aware of the heightened security precautions in and around Capitol Hill since 9/11 - and even before then.

During the six-term Democrat's tenure in Washington, two police officers on the Hill were killed by a deranged gunman at a tourist entrance, and then came the terrorist attacks and anthrax scares.

Yet Ms. McKinney is accused of striking an officer who appears to have been doing his job. Seems his biggest mistake was in not recognizing the congressman from Georgia and trying to stop her from entering a House building without proper identification.

At the time Ms. McKinney was not wearing her congressional lapel pin that would have identified her as a member of Congress as she attempted to stride past metal detectors in the building.

After the officer made repeated requests for her to stop without success, he reached out to restrain her and was allegedly hit by the congresswoman.

Ms. McKinney went on with her business, acknowledging the incident initially with a statement of regret, and finally, a much belated apology.

Some time between the scuffle and reports that federal prosecutors might lodge formal charges against the black lawmaker, Ms. McKinney decided to raise the specter of racism to cloud the case.

She held a news conference to suggest that she was the victim of racial profiling rather than accept that she's a narcissistic member of Congress who considers herself above security measures. The reputed firebrand from Georgia's 4th Congressional District may have burned herself politically by blowing an insignificant event into race-baiting.

Her attention-grabbing media stunts are too hot for even fellow House Democrats to justify. Their total absence of visible support for her says quite a lot.

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