If an average American were accused of being a Tory, he’d probably shrug his shoulders and consider it a silly thing to say. During the American Revolution, however, it was a potent insult. Call him a Papist and he’ll understand that it refers to Catholicism, but will find it an odd way of putting it. If called a Communist most would find it funny, although that does still retain some sting.
The truth is that labels meant to be insults do lose their power over time. Sometimes the issue ages out, such as when calling someone a Tory. Sometimes the label looses effect due to overuse, such as when calling someone a Racist.
It has come to the point where the term "racist" has become so completely overused that it is losing its impact. There was a time when a person so accused would take great offense and spend much time demonstrating a lack of racist tendencies. The typical response now is to sigh and accuse the other person of making the accusation due to having run out of actual arguments.
The reason it was overused is because the person making the accusation typically did resort to it due to having run out of actual arguments. Now an outside observer, hearing a progressive refer to someone else as a racist, hears "he's saying that guy isn't a progressive."
That is what happened when the president of the NAACP, Ben Jealous, called out the Tea Party movement as racist. It was such an obviously cynical and transparent ploy that it takes a determined effort to believe that there is any legitimacy to the claim.
He was called out on it a cynical and sarcastic response by Mark Williams of Tea Party Express. While the Tea Party Express is one of the groups trying to co-opt the Tea Party movement with false promises of "enemy of my enemy" and "lesser of two evils", in this instance Mr. Williams was right. He compared the NAACP to slaves rejecting an offer of freedom.
For that he was pilloried in the media as racist. While the National Tea Party Federation did expel him, the wider reaction was interesting. Most progressives worked hard to convince themselves that the letter was itself racist. Everyone else yawned.
While it is good that those who dare to oppose progressive are no longer afraid of the charge, the unfortunate effect about the diminished meaning of the word "racism" is that it enables the few real racists to defend themselves with "he called me that because I’m not progressive enough."
Once again, a useful word has been destroyed by progressives. First the word "liberal" was taken to mean the reverse of what it originally meant and now "racist" has come to mean nothing at all.