Even some of the most vicious criminals have a code of honor. No matter how much you hate your rival, you never attack his wife or children.The same can be true for most politicians and political commentators, who typically have enough decency to realize that your children have nothing to do with political combat.

Glenn Beck broke that code recently on his radio show when he decided to engage in an unprovoked attack on 11-year-old Malia Obama, the president’s daughter, by mocking her inquiries into the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Beck ridiculed the education level of Obama’s children. He even joked that Malia likely asked her father why he “hates black people.” The routine went on for a while and apparently, Beck, his guests and Fox News producers thought it was amusing to make fun of an innocent child before a national audience. Sorry my friends, but it’s not.

Beck’s comments were disturbing, even in comparison to his colleagues, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh. By making Obama’s children part of his hateful dialogue, he has sunk to a new low and even made his conservative colleagues uncomfortable. I am not even sure if Rush or O’Reillly would have stooped to this, since only a complete coward would hurt a little girl.

WATCH ‘DYLAN RATIGAN SHOW’ COVERAGE OF GLENN BECK’S ATTACK:
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The mistakes in Beck’s attack were two fold: First, he got personal with Obama’s family. It is one thing to criticize someone’s policies, and it’s another to attack the intelligence of your enemy’s children. Second, he brought race into the discussion.

Given that some Fox News hosts already have a sordid history of playing with racial stereotypes (anchors once referred to the first lady as Barack’s “baby’s mama”) and Bill O’Reilly recently said that black scholar Marc Lamont Hill looks like a cocaine dealer), this comment fits right in with the insensitive style of the network. I am not sure what corporate sponsor would want to be associated with a show like this one, given that Beck has gone out of his way to prove that he and anyone associated with him proudly carries the banner of unapologetic bigotry.

With his degrading and downright stupid comments, Beck has revoked his own right to participate in meaningful dialogue about the presidency and America’s political future. He is a virus within the Fox News network and I am sure that corporate America will eventually take notice.

Since this story broke, Glenn Beck has issued a tepid apology where he admitted that he was wrong but defended his remarks by claiming he was trying to show how “President Obama uses children to shield himself from criticism.” Beck is right to say he’s sorry but there needs be a universal understanding that racial ignorance like this won’t be tolerated.

While most of us can agree that Beck’s comments were inappropriate, this could be an opportunity for conservatives to prove they don’t turn a blind eye to racism by holding Beck accountable.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition and the initiator of the National Conversation on Race. For more information, please visit BoyceWatkins.com>