I would never go so far as to say all, or even most, Republicans are racist. We would say that a shocking number of them tend to run in the company of racists. Via Smooth Like Remy, we have Senate candidate Rand Paul's flack who evidently thinks lynching photos are funny.
Rand Paul will likely want the benefit of the doubt--this is his spokesperson, not him. He would likely say that the racist newsletters bearing his father's name don't have anything to do with this. Moreover, his father never knew that The Ron Paul Report was fomenting hate, and he deserves the benefit of the doubt also. And maybe all of that is sincere. Maybe none of it means anything, and it's just speculation.
But conservatives who are baffled by the "racist" charge, who really don't know where this is coming from, who really think they're getting a raw deal owe it to themselves to be honest and ask what they would think were they in our shoes. It's worth not simply dismissing your brand problem, but asking yourself why you have one in the first place.
You have a candidate who has entrusted the articulation of his hopes and aims to someone who thinks the imagery of domestic terrorism, and pogrom is funny. Said candidate hails from a political party whose operatives find themselves apologizing for their racist slights with haunting regularity. Said political party is rooted in a movement whose record on civil rights is, frankly, embarrassing. Said movement's loudest voices are daily arguing that the first black president in this country's history is imposing reparations, hates "the white culture," and is placing racists on the Supreme Court.
Whatever benefit of the doubt you may be entitled to, whatever raw deal you may be have caught, exchanging the defensive crouch for some self-examination is never a bad idea. It may be true that the ref may well be bias. But it may also be true that your jump-shot sucks. This is what it means to "Man Up."
UPDATE: I just want to add that it is not ordinary to have people in your company who post pictures of lynchings, in public, and exclaim "Happy Nigger Day." I refuse to believe that nothing else about this person every clued you in that they might have some issues. It was on his MySpace page, not in a secret diary found upon his death. This is not normal behavior.