I can understand the President wanting to distance himself from the comments former President Carter made. Racism is one of the third rails of politics and you don’t travel down that line unless you want to marginalize or commit political suicide by talking about racism directed at you.

However, some misunderstandings have to be cleared up. Unlike what has been said on the news shows, Carter didn’t say anyone opposed to Obama was a racist. He said, “An overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man.” He continued to say, “racism . . . still exists. And I think it has bubbled up to the surface because of a belief among many white people, not just in the South but around the country, that African Americans are not qualified to lead this great country.”

Now, people like Limbaugh and Beck, who make a living distorting the truth, have changed the statement to make it seem he meant all White people or all opposition is racist. There have been other commentators who have shouted from the rooftops that racism isn’t an issue for this President. Of course, many of the people, noticed I said many and not all, who have made these comments have been white. Why is that significant? Just like with a lot of cultural diverse issues, your experience in the past is going to govern your perception now. When commentators are black, in many instances you will get a quite different look as to if these attacks are racially motivated.

Let’s go back a few months, when there was the cartoonist who drew the picture of the chimpanzee being shot and the policeman stood over it mentioning that was one way to end the stimulus plan talk. Some commentators, like the previously mentioned Limbaugh and Beck along with others, thought the picture was just a picture, not even considering the centuries where black people were considered monkeys and sub human. The cartoon was clearly racist, yet the cartoon, when looked at by the artist and the editorial staff of the paper, which was all white, didn’t connect that the imagery might be offensive and racist. Only when it was out did they get the wrath and even in the first few days the paper tried to defend it, thinking some were being too sensitive.

More and more of this continues to get put out there and many, not wanting to face the real fact some of this will be racially motivated, want to turn a blind eye or give another excuse to the obvious. During the campaign, the White House watermelon patch, the welfare bucks and other offensive and racist depictions were denounced but considered fringe elements, not something held by the majority of citizens. I would argue because we were lax to call it what it was, we have a situation where the racism is mingled in the discourse so much it is difficult in some cases to argue one without hurting the other. Take for example the monkey cartoon. It was brought up that Bush had been depicted as a monkey and Bush had been hung in effigy. The argument being if it can be done to him why can’t it be done to Obama?

As I recall history, I don’t remember the string of lynching that happened against white people in this country. I don’t recall white people being compared to monkeys and sub humans. This was done to black people. Let’s use an example all of us witnessed a few years ago. When a foreign publication printed cartoons of Muhammad, many in the Muslin world were outraged. Protests were mounted and death threats were made. After that happened, how many publications reprinted those images? How many, even in the course of discussing those images, showed them? While we as Westerners couldn’t understand in our conscious why they were so upset, to Muslims this was an offense that meant death. I would dare to say that some who didn’t understand the anger with Muslims over their sacred leader being depicted in a drawing, definitely had something to say about the Dung Madonna or Piss Christ. There was such an uproar over the federal funding or wither the creation or display of those works by some that the NEA was threatened in being shut down.

So commentators can claim there is no racism in some of the protests going on. We’ve gone from watermelons at the White House to the President is a Nazi. I can understand from your side of the fence this is nothing, but from my side this smacks of racism. It escalates. There were men with guns at health care rallies, even at an event where the President was speaking. This doesn’t bother some conservatives? When I was going through the net to do a project, there was this comparison of the people with guns at the health care rallies and an incident where two black men, dressed up looking like poor store bought Black Panthers, were at a voting area with guns. As usual, the argument they throw out is when those guys showed up with guns the press didn’t cover it nor was there outrage. As usual the opposition changed the facts to fit their agenda. The police were alerted and the men were escorted out. The press covered and talked about how wrong it was. Even FoxNews talked about how wrong it was for the men to carry guns, yet the same station talked about freedom and the second amendment for the ones at the health care rallies. Again, how does that look to ‘us?’ Black men carry guns, can’t be done, a problem. White men carrying guns, that’s OK. Oh, and I haven’t forgotten that a man at the Phoenix rally, the one with a rifle, was a black man. Since he was a conservative, he was down for their cause and it was OK for him, it seems.

The more we ignore the racism elephant in the room the more I believe we’re going to get hit with blatant racist images that will be brushed off by the press. Where will it end?



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Obama and Racism: It's There - September 18, 2009
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