I've found this approach is often the tactic of choice by those on the left. James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal has an interesting column pointing this out.
If you think it's offensive for a Muslim group to exploit the 9/11 atrocity, you're an anti-Muslim bigot and un-American to boot. It is a claim so bizarre, so twisted, so utterly at odds with common sense that it's hard to believe anyone would assert it except as some sort of dark joke. Yet for the past few weeks, it has been put forward, apparently in all seriousness, by those who fancy themselves America's best and brightest, from the mayor of New York all the way down to Peter Beinart.
What accounts for this madness? Charles Krauthammer notes a pattern:Promiscuous charges of bigotry are precisely how our current rulers and their vast media auxiliary react to an obstreperous citizenry that insists on incorrect thinking.-- Resistance to the vast expansion of government power, intrusiveness and debt, as represented by the Tea Party movement? Why, racist resentment toward a black president.-- Disgust and alarm with the federal government's unwillingness to curb illegal immigration, as crystallized in the Arizona law? Nativism.-- Opposition to the most radical redefinition of marriage in human history, as expressed in Proposition 8 in California? Homophobia.-- Opposition to a 15-story Islamic center and mosque near Ground Zero? Islamophobia.Now we know why the country has become "ungovernable," last year's excuse for the Democrats' failure of governance: Who can possibly govern a nation of racist, nativist, homophobic Islamophobes?
Krauthammer portrays this as a cynical game: "Note what connects these issues. In every one, liberals have lost the argument in the court of public opinion. . . . What's a liberal to do? Pull out the bigotry charge, the trump that preempts debate and gives no credit to the seriousness and substance of the contrary argument."