Obama-Haters: Don’t Believe For A Second This Isn’t About Race

The first thing most anti-Obama people will tell you is that this is not an issue of race. They’ll tell you that claiming it to be about race is just another way in which the liberals are trying to distract the public from their “true” arguments. “Just because we don’t agree with the president doesn’t mean we’re racist.” True enough. And I would much rather believe what’s happening out there is more about ideological differences and not race-related at all. But the level of violent, repugnant, misinformed hatred that is swelling out there suggests much of it is.

You think Joe Wilson’s conduct unbecoming an adult, no less a Congressperson, has no roots in race? You mean the South Carolinian who belonged to the Sons of Confederate Vetarans who led a campaign in 2000 to keep the Confederate flag waving above his state capitol? The one who claimed anyone who said ’48 segregationist candidate for president Strom Thurmond had a black daughter was simply involved in a “smear” campaign? Even after it had been proven and admitted?

And let’s take a look for a moment at what it was that caused Congressman Wilson to yell “You lie!” at the President of the United States during a nationally televised address. Was it the suggestion that we should engage in a preemptive war against another country for a purpose that had no basis in truth or reality? A war that cost us thousands more American lives than the 9/11 attacks themselves? No. It was the misguided notion that illegal immigrants may be able to get health care coverage in the United States. That taxpayer dollars and/or federal funds may go to helping human beings that are here illegally. Human beings from other countries. But suggest spending enough money to create an unheard of deficit and rob over 100,000 human beings of their lives, and we don’t hear a peep from anyone in Congress during that Presidential address. No, it was the horrifying possibility that illegal immigrants may find a way to get health care coverage that caused Congressman Wilson to have his uncontrollable “emotional outburst” and interrupt Obama’s speech to call him a liar. And that’s just assuming Wilson even believes his own accusation. Which opens up a whole other can of worms suggesting a straight-forward attempt to delegitimize President Obama on national television while playing into the xenophobic fears of a segment of Americans already twisted by lies and accusations about our current president.

Folks like Stan, the friendly and well-spoken gentleman who commented on my recent post “Rep. Joe Wilson Of S.C. Calls Obama A Liar During President’s Speech To Congress” and stated that he wasn’t racist because he’d happily vote for Bill Cosby as president while simultaneously calling Obama a “joke of a president” and stating “this man has no business being President until he shows a copy of his birth certificate. He will not because he was born in Kenya.” Stan then went on to tell us how both Obama “and his wife have both quoted excerpts from Saul Alinskys’ book ”Rules For Radicals”.” While continuing to tell us how “not scary” he was and how much he was not a racist, Stan then went on to state that “God loves us all the same, but this man [Obama] managed to get to Harvard despite not having the grades or finances to do so.”

There’s a level of fear out there, a level of craziness that one hopes is just the death throes of a segment of America that the educated and grown-up had dreamed would no longer be a part of our culture as we moved into the 21st century. But it is. And having a half-black president has brought it bubbling to the surface for everyone to witness. This is both a frightening thing and a good thing. We need to see it. We need to face it and understand it and address it straight on.

From the loud-mouthed Rush Limbaughs and Bill O’Reillys, the juvenile and spoiled Glenn Becks and Sean Hannitys, to the “everyman” and “everywoman” out on the street with their signs held high demonstrating for the whole world how easily manipulated they are; how their own fears and hatred can so effortlessly be used to turn them into angry, violent pawns. Here are just a few:

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“This isn’t the Republican Party. This is just the fringe, the crazies,” some will say. Well, Joe Wilson has proven that to be wrong. This isn’t the mentality out on the street alone, this has made its way into Congress. And the support for Wilson’s 1st grade (not to mention completely incorrect) commentary shows us that this is, indeed, the new face of the Republican Party. Just in case Sarah Palin’s nomination for Vice President and her post-election fear-mongering hadn’t convinced you.

So where are the true Republicans? The ones who also recognize that this is not the America anyone has fought for? That this is, by any world standard, backwards and embarrassing. I know they’re out there. There are many Republicans (and even some Democrats) who simply do not agree with Obama and are engaged in healthy debate and not interested in fear-based lies. And once in a while some Republican member speaks up and says, “That was wrong. You should apologize.” But that’s not enough. Where is the movement by the Republican Party to reclaim its own dignity? And in so doing return some dignity to the United States of America?

The roots of racism run deep in this country. And we are a fearful nation. And that fear has been worked on diligently, sculpted and fertilized by the previous administration and many administrations before it. And our country is filled with grown-ups who have yet to mentally or emotionally reach adulthood. We are still an immature nation. But we are not ALL children. And that is not meant as a separation of Democrat and Republican. There are children and adults on both sides. However, right now, the Republican Party has become the embodiment of that racism and immaturity.

Op-Ed columnist for the New York Times Maureen Dowd wrote a piece recently that I highly recommend. In it she observes:

I’ve been loath to admit that the shrieking lunacy of the summer — the frantic efforts to paint our first black president as the Other, a foreigner, socialist, fascist, Marxist, racist, Commie, Nazi; a cad who would snuff old people; a snake who would indoctrinate kids — had much to do with race.

…But Wilson’s shocking disrespect for the office of the president — no Democrat ever shouted “liar” at W. when he was hawking a fake case for war in Iraq — convinced me: Some people just can’t believe a black man is president and will never accept it.

…Now [Obama]’s at the center of a period of racial turbulence sparked by his ascension. Even if he and the coterie of white male advisers around him don’t choose to openly acknowledge it, this president is the ultimate civil rights figure — a black man whose legitimacy is constantly challenged by a loco fringe.

For two centuries, the South has feared a takeover by blacks or the feds. In Obama, they have both.

The state that fired the first shot of the Civil War has now given us this: Senator Jim DeMint exhorted conservatives to “break” the president by upending his health care plan. Rusty DePass, a G.O.P. activist, said that a gorilla that escaped from a zoo was “just one of Michelle’s ancestors.” Lovelorn Mark Sanford tried to refuse the president’s stimulus money. And now Joe Wilson.

“A good many people in South Carolina really reject the notion that we’re part of the union,” said Don Fowler, the former Democratic Party chief who teaches politics at the University of South Carolina. He observed that when slavery was destroyed by outside forces and segregation was undone by civil rights leaders and Congress, it bred xenophobia.

…It may be President Obama’s very air of elegance and erudition that raises hackles in some. “My father used to say to me, ‘Boy, don’t get above your raising,’ ” Fowler said. “Some people are prejudiced anyway, and then they look at his education and mannerisms and get more angry at him.”

Call it what you want. Mask it behind any cause you tell yourself it is. But what’s happening in America today is clear for all the world to see. And history will recognize it clear as a cloudless sky. How we respond to it, face it, and move beyond it will also be recorded for all to see. And our children’s children will read about it. And some parts of it will be cause for shame. Let’s hope there’s another part to America’s future history that allows us to feel proud as well. And to finally grow up and properly enter adulthood.

Obama-Haters: Don’t Believe For A Second This Isn’t About Race

8 thoughts on “Obama-Haters: Don’t Believe For A Second This Isn’t About Race

  1. Emlem says:

    Racism is not new in America, but it makes me sad that what should be a healthy debate is being summarily dismissed as racism. Yes, there are many bigoted a$$holes out there, but since Obama was elected by a generous margin of ALL voting Americans, give some credit that dissenters are not all toothless, mindless rednecks.

    My fear is that if the “liberals” (I hate both that and the term “conservatives”– more generalizations that dehumanize our countrymen and discourage open discourse) keep injecting racism into every single issue and down the throat of anyone who expresses an “other” idea that it will grow wearying and cost Obama a second term, the potential logic being that if it’s THAT big a distraction, get someone in there who even his supporters can support and not feel the need to preemptively defend at every turn.

    We hired the man because we believe he can meet the challenge, let him. He is the president, opposition in all its forms comes with the job description.

  2. halmasonberg says:

    While I strongly agree that racism is not behind anyone who disagrees with Obama, I think it is playing a huge part in much of what we are seeing. Those who are raising valid issues and having a healthy debate are in no way suggesting to me that they are racist. That is not even slightly what I am saying. What I AM saying is that a very large percentage of what is happening out there does, indeed, stem from racism. I don’t believe Joe Wilson is coming from a place of disagreement or having a healthy debate. And I’m talking about people who openly hate Obama, show their disdain for the man and/or openly support those that do so. Obama-haters, not disagreers. There is a difference. But those that believe he is from Kenya, had no right going to Harvard, is in league with terrorists, or is even trying to create a world government… Those folks are not engaged in a healthy debate. We are seeing much of the racism inherent in this country rising to the surface in a way in which it has not been seen for a long, long time. That is not, in any way, calling all who disagree with Obama racists. But by the same token, don’t try and hide what appears to be racism behind a healthy debate either. That, in my opinion, is just as dangerous.

  3. Emlem says:

    “What appears to be racism” often depends on who is looking and what they are looking for, to paraphrase Sondheim. The pictures you’ve posted are not at all representative of the people actually engaged in the debates, they’re the circus freaks. Joe Wilson was responding–rudely, but not in any racist manner– to a single point in the plan that does concern a lot of Americans of all parties. He is entitled to believe that until it is on paper and going through the proper channels, however idiotic and inappropriate his expression of it in that venue may have been.

    And let’s not forget that for the previous 8 years, the dissenters were categorized in exactly the same blanket, two-dimensional way. Becoming what we accused our enemies of is what is dangerous, letting the morons out themselves is far safer.

  4. halmasonberg says:

    If you read what i wrote, you will see that I am not calling out all Republicans as racists. However, where Joe Wilson is concerned, I’m afraid I disagree with you there. What was written and presented so far, what was proposed, does not allow for illegal immigrants to get federally funded health care. But it is not just his incorrect statement that concerns me. It is the fact that he acted toward this president in a manner that I have never seen before. In front of the entire nation. And given his background, I do believe that there is a damn good chance this is rooted in more than just a simple policy disagreement. Joe Wilson brought those circus freaks, in my opinion, onto the floor of Congress. And like it or not, this is becoming the public face of the Republican party which, in its essence, is a good party, a necessary party. But it has been corrupted and distorted. The fact that Sarah Palin ran for vice president of that party shows me that this is no longer just sideshow freaks screaming at the fringe. It’s heading straight for the heart of the party. And a lot of what is behind these freaks is racism. And that racism is being used by those with the power to do so, to fuel hatred and being used to try and discredit. If you think racism plays such a small role in what is happening out there as to be unworthy of mention, then so be it. I disagree. I think it’s important to mention. I think it’s important to look at. It doesn’t discredit those who are not racist and simply disagree with Obama. But it does suggest that the Republican party as a whole needs to define itself. Because right now, those “fringe” elements have made it to the highest levels.

  5. Randy says:

    Race is a huge factor in so many of the anti-Obama sentiments being expressed covertly (occasional e-mails and chain letters from old friends and family members who assume I hold their racist views about the President) or overtly, as in the case of Sen. Wilson.

    It makes me equally sad when I see, hear or read denials to the contrary.

  6. halmasonberg says:

    Emlem, though I don’t fully agree with you here, I still entirely respect you. Just wanted to make sure you knew that. I know you’re a good person and what you’re saying comes from a good and just place. I just see it differently.

  7. halmasonberg says:

    Take a look at Mary Curtis’ commentary in Politics Daily. Like Maureen Dowd and myself, Curtis doesn’t want to see racism lurking behind every corner. But in the case of President Obama, there are some corners that could use a little more light shined on them.

    “The president won by a greater margin than his predecessor. Since then, his very citizenship has been called into question, and the Southern Poverty Law Center has documented a rise in the number of hate groups. You get the feeling that a lot of people just don’t want to believe that Barack Obama is president of the United States and will hold their ears and their breath until he is no longer in the White House.

    I’m not one to see race everywhere, even when I see it regularly in my e-mail. But when even a straightforward speech about personal responsibility and the importance of education is twisted into some sort of subversive plot, I, like Bonnie, can only think that something else is in play.”


    Then take a look at that report from the Southern Poverty Law Center which stated:

    “As in recent years, hate groups were animated by the national immigration debate. But two new forces also drove them in 2008: the worsening recession, and Barack Obama’s successful campaign to become the nation’s first black president. Officials reported that Obama had received more threats than any other presidential candidate in memory, and several white supremacists were arrested for saying they would assassinate him or allegedly plotting to do so.

    At the same time, law enforcement officials reported a marked swelling of the extreme-right “sovereign citizens” movement that wreaked havoc in the 1990s with its “paper terrorism” tactics. Adherents are infamous for filing bogus property liens and orchestrating elaborate financial ripoffs.”


  8. Randy says:

    What I find most troubling is that the groups seem so well organized, whether it is the hateful chain letter e-mails (they were obviously crafted for wide distribution by someone other than the sender) or the guys showing up to the Town Hall meetings or even at Obama appearances with rifles.

    “Whoa boys! I’ll take it from here,” indeed.

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