Republican Maryland Senate candidate Michael Steele, who's black, is taking umbrage at Maryland Congressman Steny Hoyer's comment that Steele has had "a career of slavishly supporting the Republican Party." The comment is "racist," Steele says.

This isn't quite L.A. County's demand that the terms "master" and "slave," used to refer to computer equipment, be expurgated from County-owned computers. It's at least possible that Hoyer was trying to make the "oreo" charge (which had been made by a staffer for Steele's opponent); such a charge is indeed racist, because it holds black candidates to a "loyalty to his race" standard that white candidates are not held to (and that nobody should be held to).

But that's all it is -- possible. Before you make an accusation of racism, it seems to me, you should have more evidence than just that someone had used the word "slavishly" (or "niggardly" or whatever else), coupled with the possibility that maybe he had bad intentions. That's true if you're someone on the Left who's trying to cast what is facially a perfectly legitimate, nonracist substantive argument as having racist motivations or being filled with supposed "racist code words." And it's true if you're someone on the Right who's trying to do the same.