Eugene Cho

jimmy carter, barack obama, wilson, racism, “you lie” and the perpetual elephant in the room

Anyone that says that racism doesn’t exist or that racism no longer exists is living on Jupiter. But with some talking about visions of a Post-Racial world, you wonder how you exactly go about doing that in a world that is so racialized… Or in other words, how do we move deeper towards Reconciliation?

Some of my readers know that I have immense respect for former President Jimmy Carter. Let’s be honest: He was an average President at best but his post-presidential work, voice, and advocacy in so many various venues have been very inspiring – including his decision to leave the Baptist denomination over his support for the equality of women.

And while I admire his courage and boldness in speaking about racism recently, addressing the perpetual elephant about racism and the possibility for some [and reality of others] of the “fear” of a black President, I found some of his comments disturbing:

1. Let’s be careful. We know racism exists. And while we shed light, have courage to speak, pursue justice…let’s not let some of the real bad apples impact our perspective of a larger region or country:

“There is an inherent feeling among many in this country that an African-American should not be president.”

Who is “many?”  How many?

2. I find it very disappointing that he called out U.S. Rep Joe Wilson. Wilson certainly deserved to be called out for his disruptive and outrageous outburst but to publicly declare [think] that Wilson’s outbursts were “based on racism” and rooted in fears of a black president was unfair and unfortunate.

  • Does racism exist? Of course.
  • Does institutional racism exist? Of course.
  • Are there some that have fears of a black President? Of course.
  • Do we jump the gun on calling others racists or cite racism as the cause?  Yes.

How do we move forward towards a Post-Racial world?

While it’s not my intent to be so simplistic, I am continually reminded of the invitation to see ourselves and others in the Image Dei – the image of God. I am convinced this is the only truthful way…

Translation: In one another, we can see the image of God.  And so: What are you looking at?

Check out Carter’s comments in this video interview and the AP article below. What do you think?

Some of my readers know that I have immense respect for former President Jimmy Carter. Let’s be honest: He was a mediocre President but his post-presidential work in so many various venues have been very inspiring – including his decision to leave the Baptist denomination over his support for the equality of women.

And while I admire his courage in shedding light to the issues of

AP News: Former President Jimmy Carter said Tuesday that U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson’s outburst to President Barack Obama during a speech to Congress last week was an act “based on racism” and rooted in fears of a black president.

“I think it’s based on racism,” Carter said at a town hall held at his presidential center in Atlanta. “There is an inherent feeling among many in this country that an African-American should not be president.”

The Georgia Democrat said the outburst was a part of a disturbing trend directed at the president that has included demonstrators equating Obama to Nazi leaders.

“Those kind of things are not just casual outcomes of a sincere debate on whether we should have a national program on health care,” he said. “It’s deeper than that.”

Wilson, a South Carolina Republican, was formally rebuked Tuesday in a House vote for shouting “You lie!” during Obama’s speech to Congress last Wednesday.

The shout came after the president commented that illegal aliens would be ineligible for federal subsidies to buy health insurance. Republicans expressed their disbelief with sounds of disapproval, punctuated by Wilson’s outburst.

Tuesday’s rebuke was a rare resolution of disapproval pushed through by Democrats who insisted that Wilson had violated basic rules of decorum and civility. Republicans characterized the measure as a witch hunt and Wilson, who had already apologized to Obama, insisted he owed the House no apology.

Wilson’s spokesman was not immediately available for comment, but his eldest son defended his father.

“There is not a racist bone in my dad’s body,” said Alan Wilson, an Iraq veteran who is running for state attorney general. “He doesn’t even laugh at distasteful jokes. I won’t comment on former President Carter, because I don’t know President Carter. But I know my dad, and it’s just not in him.”

“It’s unfortunate people make that jump. People can disagree — and appropriately disagree — on issues of substance, but when they make the jump to race it’s absolutely ludicrous. My brothers and I were raised by our parents to respect everyone regardless of background or race.”

South Carolina’s former Democratic Party chairman said that he doesn’t believe Wilson was motivated by racism, but said the outburst encouraged racist views.

“I think Joe’s conduct was asinine, but I think it would be asinine no matter what the color of the president,” said Dick Harpootlian, who has known Wilson for decades. “I don’t think Joe’s outburst was caused by President Obama being African-American. I think it was caused by no filter being between his brain and his mouth.”

Harpootlian said he received scores of racial e-mails from outside South Carolina after he talked about the vote on Fox News.

“You have a bunch of folks out there looking for some comfort in their racial issues. They have a problem with an African-American president,” he said. “But was he motivated by that? I don’t think so. I respectfully disagree with President Carter, though it gives validity to racism.”

Carter called Wilson’s comment “dastardly” and an aftershock of racist views that have permeated American politics for decades.

“The president is not only the head of government, he is the head of state,” he said. “And no matter who he is or how much we disagree with his policies, the president should be treated with respect.”

The South Carolina Republican lawmaker was formally rebuked Tuesday in a House vote divided by party lines. Wilson shouted “You lie!” during Obama’s speech to Congress last Wednesday.

Carter was responding to a question submitted Tuesday night at a town hall held at his presidential center in Atlanta.

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59 Responses

  1. Even I highly doubt that President Obama would receive as many attacks if he were a white man, I don’t think Wilson’s outburst was race-motivated. It was just typical political ignorance.

    As far as how do we move forward in a “post-racial” world, that’s the million dollar question, isn’t it? I do know that we need to pray for God’s wisdom first.

  2. Andy M says:

    I think it is unfortunate that Carter made that statement. I think that remarks made like that are what reinforces the people who believe that racism is no longer a problem, or at least not a problem for them. I could be wrong, but it seems to me that when statements like this are made about things that are unlikely to have been racially motivated, it dilutes the reality of those things that are racially motivated.

    To move forward? The only way to move forward is to become friends with all kinds of people, regardless of their race, religion, politics, history, social status. You know that bumper sticker that says “Coexist” with the religious symbols? I actually hate that, because it promotes merely tolerance. While I prefer tolerance to pure hatred, I don’t think it goes nearly far enough. For there to be peace in the world we are going to have to learn to live in the tension of our differences, rather than segregating ourselves. We must learn to like each other, even though we are different.

    It isn’t easy, but it is the only way to truly move forward.

  3. GREAT post, Eugene. I think it’s really counterproductive when resistance toward the president (be in appropriate or inappropriate) is immediately attributed to racism. This just makes folks like Wilson and his supporters more defensive and angry, fanning the flames of any possible prejudices that might have already existed.

    That being said, as a Southerner, I did detect something ugly and familiar in Wilson’s outburst that reminded me of some of the racism I encounter regularly here in East Tennessee. But it’s not hatred toward African Americans; it’s hatred toward Hispanics.

    What was it that made Wilson angry enough to yell at the president in an unprecedented breech of decorum? The possibility of providing illegal aliens with healthcare.

    I can only speak for myself, but I’ve noticed that down South, there is an incredible fear surrounding illegal aliens – particularly from Latin America. Rarely do I hear folks make racial slurs about African Americans. Often I hear them make racial slurs about Hispanics. Tennessee (and many other Southern states) have a high population of migrant workers – folks from Mexico and other Latin countries who come to town for a particular harvest (around here, it’s tomatoes) and then move somewhere else for another harvest. Many of them are legal citizens. Some are not. But a lot of white Southerners are extremely paranoid (you might even say obsessed) when it comes to illegal immigrants, to the point that they become extremely agitated/angry (like Wilson) whenever the subject comes up, and unfortunately, whenever a Hispanic – legal or illegal – is around.

    Of course, I cannot say for certain that this is what motivated Wilson’s outburst. It just sounded familiar. Few things make Southerners more angry than illegal immigrants. I’m not sure if this is out of fear of losing jobs, racism, or a little bit of both – but the anger can be poisonous.

    One thing that I think people misunderstand about the South and racism is this – They think that African Americans are the primary targets of racial hatred because of the history here.

    But racism, in my opinion, is less about history and more about ignorance. Unfortunately, (and in part due to our history) statistically, there is an educational divide between the South and the rest of the country. What I have found living in the South my whole life is that the racist folks around here do not necessarily hate a particular group – they hate what they don’t understand.

    So, for example, the racism I have encountered regarding Barack Obama has had nothing to do with his African American heritage and EVERYTHING to do with the fact that some people around here are absolutely convinced that he is a Muslim, who wasn’t born in the U.S. and wants to turn America into a Muslim country. (They read this in an email forward!)

    It’s not so much fear of a black man, it’s a fear of the unknown.

    Wilson’s outburst had a familiar ring to me as a Southerner – not because it was directed toward a black president, but because it was directed toward a guy with a funny last name who is talking about immigrants.

    Does that make sense?

  4. elderj says:

    I appreciate Rachel’s comments. though I disagree on some points, I agree on others.

    I think Carter’s remarks (and much of the commentary attributing racist motivations to people) are slanderous, dishonorable, bigoted, and ironically, racist.

    Slanderous and dishonorable because they impugn the character of people without real cause. Racism is a strong and vicious charge and should be made only with some extraordinary substantive proof beyond what Maureen Dowd thinks she hears, or what Carter feels inherently.

    Bigoted because assumptions are made about people’s character and motivation based on where they are from. Protesters are White ergo they are racist. Wilson is from S. Carolina ergo he is a bigot. That’s bigotry and prejudice just as it would be if it was suggested that because someone is male they are a potential/latent abuser, or Black they are criminally motivated.

    Racist because it treats Obama differently than others based on his race. Rather than cover whether Obama was in fact lying (amendments to require citizenship verification had in fact been voted down) the coverage became all about whether Wilson was racist. While crying out “You lie” may be unusually rude, it is not unlike Democrats booing George Bush in the State of the Union address.

    The constant raising of the spectre of racism in every critique of Obama deflects questions and debate from actual policy and makes it seem as if he must somehow be protected from the same scrutiny. Opponents of Bush were vicious in their criticism. Likewise with Clinton.

    The danger here, as Rachel noted, is that constant allegations of racism (when none is present) makes people resentful and ultimately may provoke that which it is designed to “call out.” After all you can only call someone insensitive so long before they start ignoring you and thus becoming insensitive.

  5. elderj says:

    @rachel – I lived in E. Tennessee so I know the sentiment you describe. I would characterize it as suspicious more than ignorance or hate, sort of a “you’re not from around here” mentality. Heck E. Tennesseans are suspicious of people from Nashville, much less someone from Guatemala or someone named Barack.

    I think another thing people don’t understand about the South is that there is a deep sense of resistance to any infringement on personal liberty. The South is the only region of the nation to have been invaded and to be militarily occupied. After that, it was essentially treated like a giant colony (mined for coal, iron, cotton, timber, oil, etc.) for the enrichment of the industrial north for another 70 years. Then they became the whipping boy for the entire nation’s racist history (and remain so) again requiring federal intervention.

  6. Nourisha says:

    racism i’ve experienced personally in my life:
    – having a white man in a truck with a confederate flag try to run me off the road after driving so close i thought he was going to smash into the back of me.
    – teacher saying to me in front of the class, you’re not like my other black students. you’re actually smart.
    – having a fraternity at school have a mock slave auction with nooses in the trees.
    – getting kicked out of my friends house when her dad came home and saw his daughter playing with a nigger. (yes he called me that.)
    – getting splashed with urine from a water gun by teen white boys who yelled “let’s get that nigger walking down the street” while walking home from school freshman year.
    – being pulled over for no reason other than i was black and had short hair under my ball cap and the cop thought i was a black male. he was real shocked when he saw my face and told me he pulled me over because i looked like i was looking for trouble. really?

    i’m sorry but when you live with so much hatred simply because you’re black (and i know other groups do too but this is my experience) you are not only tainted but more willing to call a spade a spade. i don’t fly the race flag often (people are way too sensitive to even address their internal racism for that) but you can’t tell me that there is huge anger over a black president. and the thing is that black people didn’t elect him by themselves so you know others are just as happy to have a black president as we are.

    but don’t pretend that the anger and hatred you see is about policies. it’s about anger that a black man is leading this country. and while joe’s comment might not have been racist, it definitely stems from his frustration with having to respect and follow a black president. his track record shows he doesn’t want to change the status quo on racism. out of the abundance of the heart a man speaks. when a person shows you who they are (by the words they speak) you believe it.

  7. BigEdsBlog says:

    Yeah that’s it Jimmy. It’s not his policy but the color of his skin that fiscal conservatives hate.
    We also don’t like Nancy Pelosi because she’s a woman, Harry Reid because he’s a Mormon, you because you are a baptist and John Murtha and the late Ted Kennedy because they are Irish.
    Yeah that’s the ticket.
    Check out my take and stick around for more good comment.

    http://libertarianhumor.com/2009/09/16/jimmy-carter/

  8. Megan says:

    I agree with President Carter that the outcry around the health care debate isn’t really about health care. Reasonable people don’t act out the way we’ve seen some people do because of disagreements over health care. I think there is a significant portion of the population who simply want to see Obama fail. I’m sure some people’s reason for that is that they are, to one degree or another, racist. But I don’t think that’s everyone’s reason or the only reason. I think a big reason is that the far right has done an excellent job instilling fear into their constituents and at making Obama the symbol of everything that’s wrong with our country. The people who buy into that come to hate Obama because they’re scared of what he might do…nevermind that, in the meantime, the far right is promoting policies that are the opposite of what’s in the best interest of their constituents.

    I’m deeply troubled by the anger and threats of violence rumbling through our country, and there’s part of me that’s as concerned about a terrorist attack from an American as I am about one from a foreigner. But I think that when President Carter immediately jumps on Rep. Wilson as a racist when there’s no proof whatsoever that he is, it only serves to further divide our country and increase the anger that many people already feel. It’s more name-calling when what we really need is reconciliation.

  9. cfpdx says:

    Joe Wilson:.

    He believes the confederate flag should still hang.

    He publicly doubted Essie Mae Washington-Williams.

    He is disrespectful towards our President and our country.

    He purposefully misleads his constituents on major issues; such as the Iraq war and health care reform.

    Sgt. Joe Friday: All we know are the facts, ma’am.

  10. Steve says:

    Eugene, is it really possible to move to a post-racial reality in America? I really doubt it. Discrimination and fear-mongering is as old as man, and as long as humanity exists, there will be racism. But we must do our best to speak out and confront these heinous acts, especially us minorities.

  11. Eugene Cho says:

    @nourisha: thanks for sharing a part of your story. glad you’re journeying with us at quest.

    @steve: no, i don’t believe it but there will come a time when all times will be made whole and for that reason, we should all work to take those steps closer to the restoration of creation.

  12. P. Scott Cummins says:

    This is President Carter on the subject that you police your thoughts and follow his directives. Ironic, even Jimmy Carter won’t agree with Barack Obama every time. By Carter’s reasoning, would he then declare himself a racist? What about President Obama’s “executive action” this past weekend – ordering the targeted assassination of an identified al-Qaeda terrorist in Africa. Does Jimmy Carter agree with that? Probably not, and vehemently so (based on the tone of Carter’s books). Oops, sorry Jimmy, you’re a racist cracker for disagreeing with Obama because you said so yourself. Ridiculous. Furthermore, following the logic of Carter’s statement, the First Amendment is summarily suspended. Shameful.
    Please disagree with me, its your right! I celebrate that. Its called many things, like DIVERSITY and FREEDOM. Ask yourself, when listening to his statement, if Carter does the same. And if you are liberal, also do this. Pretend you are back in college logic class. Listen to what Jimmy is saying, then substitute “Bush” and “Reagan” for “Obama” and “Carter” – and start to feel your blood run cold…

  13. elderj says:

    @nourisha – thanks for sharing that. Those are some striking and painful experiences to have and to read about. I’m sorry that they happened. I’ve experienced my share of racism, though not nearly like that.

    I can’t extrapolate nor support your extrapolation from my and your experiences that the anger is NOT about policies and only about the person. That is not fair; not at all fair. And it certainly is unfair to suggest that you have some window into Joe Wilson’s conscience about his motives, especially since Obama was in fact, not being entirely honest. That’s as wrong as it was for the police to profile you because you “fit the description.”

    People disagree with many of the policies of the current administration. But beyond that though is a deep anger that their representatives don’t care and aren’t listening. THAT is what makes people angry. People feel as if they have been for years and years ignored and treated patronizingly by their reps, and that pisses them off (or should I use pisseth for this blog Eugene?) His race for some few probably just makes it easier to be annoyed. (But then again, a lot of Black people were sure that Bush was a racist though his administration was more “diverse” than Clinton’s so maybe it’s a wash.)

  14. much respect eugene,

    I don’t think the question is “should President Carter be calling Representative Wilson a racist for the You Lie?”

    I didn’t catch Carter did not label anyone a “racist”, but rather questioning if the outburst has some roots in racism AND asserting that there is a strong current of belief that Obama may not be qualified because of his background is a part of the “discourse” currently. Maybe I missed it. I didn’t catch the whole interview.

    I think there is a big difference between calling someone a racist for something they said and questioning how much of our inherited race-beliefs are affecting our debates. we are way past pointing the finger in this country about racism. We suck at excluding racism from our national conscious. Shout out to the sister who shared her personal experience to bring it to a ground level.

    the question is going to our own personal and shared roots and what kinds of opinions come from there. Racism is a broad term and I have yet to know an American really well who has no shadow of that stain.

    its a good question. We’ve never had a minority in the oval office before. We’ve never had a population who voted for a minority to win before. the extent of the reach of racism is a good debate for 2009, but focusing on which people on TV are racist miss the opportunity to grow as a society. in my opinion.

  15. Elderj said, “I think another thing people don’t understand about the South is that there is a deep sense of resistance to any infringement on personal liberty.”

    I definitely agree. Also, disdain for anything that smacks of elitism runs deep here. The Right has made a good political move by painting Obama as such…though I think such a portrayal is inaccurate, even laughable.

    Basically, quite a few of my friends/neighbors here in the South think of Obama as a non-Christian foreigner who supports illegal immigrants, wants to take away their guns and socialize the country, and thinks he’s better than them.

    I suspect that some of these underlying sentiments may have played into Wilson’s outburst…but as I said before, we have to be wary of painting all who oppose the president as racists. It only makes the situation worse….and I think it actually oversimplifies what are complex and nuanced sources of the Southern anger against Obama.

  16. Tony Lin says:

    On point 1. Keep in mind where Jimmy Carter is from and how well he knows this country. I live in Virginia (which voted for Obama!) and I fully agree with Carter that MANY believe that an African American should not be president. Carter is a privileged white male from the South who hangs out with other white males. I think he sees something that non-whites and non-privileged do not see. Many does not mean majority since he got elected. Many means a lot, which is true.

    On his 2nd point. I don’t think Wilson’s scream was based on racism either. But to be fair to Carter he never specifically said that Wilson was being a racist. The question was regarding all the protest against Obama. At least in the video you posted, and in a Carter Institute panel where he talks about this, he never specifically indicated that Wilson was motivated by racism. He just said that there is less respect for Obama because of his race. Even when G. W. Bush was highly disrespected, nobody yelled at him in congress or questioned his citizenship or called him a socialist.

    Again, I don’t think Wilson did it out of racism. But I don’t think Wilson would have done the same thing to a white president. Carter is more right than wrong on this one.

    This is the Carter Institute video:

  17. elderj says:

    An interesting thought experiment is how would people have responded if a Black representative had done this to a white president

  18. Brian says:

    To be fair, isn’t President Obama bi-racial? I am not being argumentative here but all of this talk about a “black president” is presumptuous and not in line with the facts.

  19. Liz says:

    I have trouble seeing the connection to racism but maybe that is because I have trouble relating to the frame of mind involved in racism. What does seem obvious to me and is as disgusting to me as racism, is that the far right has perpetuated an attitude of disrespect, suspicion and fear when it comes to our Pres and Democrats in general.

    The far right has one agenda and that is to do everything they can to make the present administration fail in every possible way.

    I am sure someone will come along and remind us of something disturbing the far left has done. Let me save you the trouble – if they were disrespectful, uncivil, lied etc I am against it also – two wrongs do not make a right and tit for tat doesn’t get us any further down the road.

  20. Norbert Miller says:

    I can’t believe it – I’ve stumbled on a site where all the responses are actually intelligently thought out! I’ve seen NO attacks on people for their views – kudos to all.

    I’ve got just a couple of comments on racism which I’d like to share.

    Firstly, I would not consider myself completely free of racism UNTIL I as a white can be in the company of a black and remain ignorant of that fact. If in my mind I still think of that other man as “a black man” rather than just “a man” then I am employing racial distinctions between myself and him. Notice that this is very natural and implies absolutely nothing regarding racial superiority – but to merely point out his blackness as a distinguishing feature if I were trying to describe him to a white acquaintance is indeed a form of (extremely innocuous, of course) racism.

    Secondly, racism cuts both ways. I am not from the South, but rather from the Great White North. I’d like to claim it’s social virtue, but I know better – our racial tolerance is present only because for some reason racism has never developed. However, I have indeed felt racial tension from blacks who were, I presume, projecting onto me the bad racial attitudes of other whites with whom they’ve had to deal over the course of their lives. But this very act of projecting racist attitudes, these very low expectations based on race, can actually make the non- or less-racist look like an angel for doing absolutely nothing! I am engaged to a Filipina and have visited her twice. She has told me that the people there hold me in admiration – I’m not like “other white men” which means only that I failed to look down at them with condescension.

    Thirdly – has anyone besides me wondered if we’re not being condescending to minorities when we have, supposedly for their protection, a whole slew of “hate” laws? As a white man, I use the “N” word at my peril. It seems to me that if I so insult a black man, he ought to deal with it in a way he sees fit – whether he wishes to return a slur in my direction, strike me, or challenge me to stand up to the dignity of my manhood is up to him. To criminalize such a word is telling the black population that we as a society don’t consider them able to stand up for their personal dignity. I do realize that is not the intention, but I see it as an unavoidable side effect.

    As someone has mentioned before, the only way to really combat racism is to step out of our way and befriend people across racial lines. The movie “Remember the Titans” really puts this in focus.

    Thank you all for the intelligent comments!

  21. Megan says:

    @norbert miller: I appreciate your comments, but I have to disagree that recognizing someone as black automatically makes you somewhat of a racist. I don’t think that in order to avoid being racist, we have to be blind. I think it has more to do with connotation we have when we think of certain minority groups.

    For example, I am a woman. When I am speaking with a man and recognize that he is a man and not a woman, does that make me sexist? Or when I’m telling someone a story about this man and I identify him as a man instead of just as a person, does that make me sexist? I don’t think so.

    In the same way, I don’t think recognizing that someone is black means that you’re racist. I think it’s the way you react to that information. If I’m walking down an empty street at night and am passed by a black man and react differently and more negatively or defensively than if it’s a white man, then that’s a bit of racism. Or if I refer to someone’s race or sex in an attempt to say something negative about their character, like when people talk about “women drivers” in a negative way, then that’s a bit of racism or sexism. But simply recognizing the other person’s race doesn’t equal racism.

  22. steve s says:

    We’ve never had a minority in the oval office before.

    check your history book…

    …and to Norbert, I don’t think abolishing distinctions between peoples should be the goal. I am truly enriched by my friendships with a half a dozen people from as many different ethnic backgrounds. To ignore it would be to miss so much that is good..;.

  23. Eugene Cho says:

    @norbert,

    welcome to the blog.

    we definitely have a great online community here but admit that we also have our occasional visitations of trolls…

  24. Maia says:

    Gotta side with Carter and Maureen Doud on this one…

    The “many” that I think Carter is referring to are the folks who protest Obama and his administration for his stance on healthcare spending but were silent as Bush spent trillions on the Iraq war.

    They are angry that a man they don’t trust (because he is a person of color) was elected and are grasping to find the truth behind this “snake’s” lies, as he is commonly referred to. What else but racism can you attribute this kind of hysteria?

    When I was campaigning for Obama before the election I was shocked at how many of my family members kept giving me the “I just don’t trust him” line. Really, I knew from years of interactions with them that they had strong prejudices based on race.

    I recognized when other families spoke about Obama, the subtle culture of “othering” language that was used in my childhood, was used also.

    If this kind of subtle racism is so strong in my family in outer lying city neighborhoods in the Pacific Northwest, I can only imagine what is still bred in the South. Wilson’s affiliations with the Sons of Confederate Veterans don’t lend him much additional support and have added to my belief that there are people who can’t handle or having a President that doesn’t look like them.

    Also, I think Joe Wilson really needed to be called out, whether he intended any racial overtones in his disrespect many percieved them and hopefully pointing this out will cause people to assess their speech a little more carefully.

  25. elderj says:

    They are angry that a man they don’t trust (because he is a person of color) was elected

    What a dismissive comment. Might it not be better to listen to the reasons people themselves give for their distrust? Isn’t that what Obama himself says that we ought to do?

    If this kind of subtle racism is so strong in my family in outer lying city neighborhoods in the Pacific Northwest, I can only imagine what is still bred in the South.

    Wow, what an insightful (and bigoted) comment. People must have racist thoughts “bred” into their psyche by virtue of their region.

    What I’m shocked by is how racism was imputed to the Clinton’s and their supporters, that Obama said (though it didn’t happen) that his opponents would highlights his “otherness,” that Eric Holder said the nation is cowardly on race, and that the question, “Is it racial?” comes up almost every time Obama or his policies are challenged. That is destructive to the national conversation.

    There are White friends of mine who, because of the issues of race, are afraid to call someone “Black,” who are afraid to acknowledge differences because they are afraid of being called racist. There are others who basically have said, “why the hell am I being scapegoated for something I had nothing to do with, I don’t agree with, and that I find distasteful?”

  26. Rick in Texas says:

    I was, as much as is humanly possible for a white male, raised as color-blind as I can imagine.

    I didn’t vote for the President, but on the night he was elected I was proud of my nation for its election of a black man – for the color-blindedness this represents on the part of a majority of voters.

    I pray for his success – defined not as the advancement of his policies, but as leaving the nation a better, stronger, healthier, more just, more sustainable in the future, etc.

    I diagree with many of the positions he has advanced and with the way he has gone about advancing them.

    But his race does not enter into the perspectives I take and I am offended by the attribution of racism to my motives by Carter and others. It would be equally wrong to say that those who disagreed with Sarah Palin were motivated by pure and simple sexism. Nonsense. The disagreement has to do with substance, not race or gender.

    Are there some who are racist and or sexist in their approach to such matters. Of course. No one I have ever spoken with fits that bill though. When matters are discussed, people express substantive policy disagreements.

  27. danderson says:

    Leonard Pitts, the columnist, recently wrote a column about a group of Blacks beating up a White guy simply because he was debating a Black female. Wouldn’t have heard about it if it weren’t for the column. In my school district, a Black girl in high school called a Vietnamese-born cook a Chinese —–. There are occasional fights between Blacks and Latinos. Last year, a fourth-grade Black boy at our school should have been suspended, but wasn’t, because the school is too afraid of “what it might look like.”

    I recommend reading the book, Enough, by Juan Williams. He’s an African-American trying to set the record straight. Or, perhaps listening to what Bill Cosby has to say about race.

  28. [...] that topic at length here. But, in the meantime, there’s a great conversation going on over at Eugene Cho’s blog on this issue. Eugene has an excellent commentary on recent events involving Joe Wilson’s [...]

  29. Daniel Imburgia says:

    Whatever motivated Joe Wilson’s slanderous outburst at Obama, what needs be criticized is that his outrage was over the possibility that poor immigrants might get healthcare!!! 27 times God told His people in the Torah (the Talmud hyperbolically proclaims ‘27 times 27’) “that one should not persecute the alien and stranger in your land, nor abuse him, that the alien and stranger is to be treated as a family member, given shelter and food, that there be only one and the same law for the alien and for God’s people….” What is God’s explanation for this socialist, trans-national, open border policy? “Because you were once alien and strangers in a foreign land, abused and oppressed, and I delivered you” God reminded the Israelites over and over. I don’t reckon I need to go into how the Christian bible attends to this issue. Obama assured us in his speech that “no illegals would be allowed access to healthcare in his plan.” Wilson apologized, both parties have added big bucks to their political campaigns, self-righteousness and moral indignation abounds, and the poor suffer. obliged, Daniel

  30. Peter says:

    when the race card is played at every instance, whether there is any warrant for it, it will become like the boy who cried wolf. i believe the current debate on health care, or opposition against it, is not race-motivated. if we throw this spin, it becomes muddied, and the debate will be derailed.

    not sure if it is right to assume if President Obama is white, he will not face this opposition. Hilary Clinton faced it when she tried to introduce the health care reform. President Bush was booed by the Democrats during his state of the union address, and there was absolutely no apology and there was no outrage from the media either.

    what joe wilson did was totally disrespectful. everyone agreed on that. there is no need to milk any more political mileage from this. the health care reform is not going to be passed by this unnecessary debate. neither are any of the urgent biz that needs the congress’ attention.

  31. Mark Coppock says:

    Tragically, while my experience and opinion align with that of Rick from Texas (above), “racism” continues long past the time that many, I pray including myself, are personally nearing functional colorblindness. This is a lingering consequence of the sin of all the generations that first enslaved, then actively and passively discriminated against, fellow human beings.

    That is the nature of any sin. Sin is far more corrosive than we imagine. In this case, slavery is abolished, the Civil Rights Act is passed, a person of color is elected President of the United States, and we hope we’re moving past this racism thing. But the consequences of many generations of sin take more than just a few to subside.

    Therefore my main takeaway from this is to be reminded to be more compassionate to those enslaved by sin, more ready to rebuke, exhort and edify believers engaged in it, and more resolved to continue seeking to shun my own. I pray we’ll all, despite our differences, continue to move in this direction.

  32. nourisha says:

    i think another point to be made here is not the disagreement with obama’s policies or even joe’s statement but the discourse surrounding the entire presidency. when you see a group of older whites on television saying with shaking fist and anger that they want the america they grew up in back you can’t ignore the fact that that america didn’t give my parents and their parents and their parents before them rights. what is the underlying “good ole days ” they are seeking? it’s not a time of less government involvement and deficits or you would have seen the same angry outcry when bush was in office and grew government and deficits by outrageous numbers. it’s not really about appointing czars because the republican idol, reagan, did that.

    i agree that you can’t label disapproval as racism but you cannot ignore the undertone of racism surrounding this entire presidency and all of this “debate”. sending out racist emails and pretending you didn’t know they were racist is a cop out and i’m so sick of seeing it over and over again. that’s what frustrates me and like any flame fed over time, you’re going to have an all out fire. i don’t want us to have an out of control fire. but i want us to deal with our demons. carter is dealing with the demons. some are just feeding the fires. and in the end, the populous looses.

    i agree that there is something wrong with our country that says bring me your tired and poor yourning to be free and tells them no vacancy, no service, no chance.

  33. Andy M says:

    This is the idealist in me, but I hate the idea of being “color blind”, and the reason is that we should not have to look past “part” of a person in order to value them, whether it is their color of skin or anything else.

    This will be an odd reference, but I agree with Mystique’s statement in the movie X-Men when she is asked why she doesn’t take the form of a typical human being so she will fit in to normal society, and she says that she shouldn’t have to.

    I am white, and nobody else should have to ignore the fact that I’m white. Nor should I have to ignore the distinct features of other people. That is who we are, being white is a part of who I am, and nobody will be able to fully understand me without it.

    We do not need to become “colorblind”, but rather to value and to love the individual distinctness and beauty of every single person, especially those different from ourselves. It is not much of a challenge to love those that are just like us, it is difficult to love those who are different, but that is what Jesus called us to.

  34. Tony Lin says:

    Forget what Carter said about Wilson. His comment on Kanya West is hilarious!!

    Cater said Kanya’s “punishment was to appear on the new Jay Leno show.” hahaha

    http://www.cnn.com/2009/SHOWBIZ/Music/09/17/carter.kanye.west/index.html

  35. DKC says:

    Have you looked at some of the signs on display at this tea party march? If you are blind to the reality of what really goes on in this country and believe that it is simply someone playing the “race card” then you need to walk in someone else’s shoes and see things from their vantage point. Many of the signs at the “tea party” march were not in support or against healthcare at all–they were insulting. I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss an 85 year old statesman who has seen and heard more than both of us combined.

  36. rv says:

    It’s a shame that people react out of fear…whether is it racism at work or not, racism itself is really a product of fear. People hating someone who’s different because they conjure up irrational fears about that person just because of their own ignorance. Isn’t that true with politics as well.

    American’s have historically been afraid of change. Let’s look at our system of measurement. We don’t use the metric, the more logical and universal system, because at some point in time, Americans believed that the only reason the government wanted to change to the metric system was because they wanted to allow the big companies to charge more per gallon, more per liter, etc., taking advantage of people not understanding the metric measurements.

    So, here we are again. Our healthcare system is spiraling out of control and is hurting us, but because the unknown is more frightening, we want to drown in what we do know. We can’t seem to learn from history.

  37. John Lunt says:

    Reading the comments, I am convinced this is a useless argument either way. I disapprove of Barak Obama’s policies. I have to fight racism in my own heart (which with help from the Holy Spirit I am able to do). I disapprove of many of the tea party signs (ie the Obama picture with a Hitler mustache for instance) I like many of the signs concerning his policies. But to assume race is at the heart of most of the displeasure with Obama is just as ludicrous as suggesting there is not racism.

  38. @ Tony Lin — that Carter/Kanye line was HILARIOUS.
    @ Brian — Obama may be biracial, but for the purposes of this conversation, biracial=black. It shouldn’t be that way, but culturally speaking, it is. It’s not like some crooked cop with a penchant for racial profiling is going to look at a biracial, mocha-skinned 19-year-old with baggy pants and a doorag under his 59Fifty and think, “There goes another young criminal in the making… oh wait… you know what, he’s not as dark as I originally thought… maybe one of his parents is White… oh in that case, I take it all back.” I agree with you that biracial is not the same thing as Black, but if you look back in American history you’ll find tons of evidence of what is colloquially called the “one-drop” rule where if you have ANY African heritage in your bloodline, you’re pretty much Black. End of discussion.

    I don’t like to generalize too much, but for the sake of this conversation, I’m going to throw something out there (and maybe this might turn into my own blog post later, not sure).

    EVERYONE WHO HAS SOMETHING TO SAY ABOUT THE ISSUE OF RACE IN POLITICS, PLEASE LISTEN UP:

    The question of whether or not This Incident or That Comment or This Statement or That Action is or is not racist or racially-motivated or racialized (to use Emerson & Smith’s term from Divided By Faith) is, in my opinion, the WRONG question.

    It’s not the wrong question because race issues aren’t important or that we should be post-racial or colorblind.

    It’s the wrong question when it is framed in that particular way — IS or IS NOT.

    These are NOT binary issues. It’s not EITHER Joe Wilson is a racist OR he has a legitimate problem with President Obama’s policies.

    The question SHOULD be, with regard to This Incident or That Comment or This Statement or That Action, HOW MUCH or TO WHAT EXTENT did race play a role? The answer could be “a little” … or “a lot more than one would think” or “almost none” or “more than So&So wants to admit” or whatever.

    We can argue about that, and we should. That’s an argument worth having, because it helps to illuminate perspectives that others might have that we might have missed otherwise.

    But asking the question is it or is it not a racial issue is pretty pointless and counterproductive. Because of history and culture and the nature of personal expression and subconscious racial bias and other issues which I have neither the time nor inclination to more deeply delve into… ANYTHING can be a racial issue. “2+2=4″ could be a racial issue, given a certain set of circumstances.

    Race may be a social construct, but guess what folks… we as humanity have constructed it. And it’s been up for awhile. So we as humans now have to deal with the history that we have constructed, even though we as individuals may not have done all of the construction work ourselves (I can feel this metaphor wearing out, so I’ll stop there.)

    It’s fine if you think Joe Wilson’s outburst had just-as-much-if-not-more to do with race than with politics. That doesn’t mean that, as a Republican, Wilson has no legitimate reason to disagree with a member of the opposite political party, even if that person is the sitting commander-in-chief.

    It’s also fine to think that Joe Wilson was thinking primarily of policy and not of President Obama’s race, but if you absolutely DENY that race has ANY role whatsoever in his thinking, not even subconsciously, then you come off looking either naive, out of touch, or hopelessly narrow-minded.

    Got it, folks? I hate to generalize, but if it makes it easy to remember, let me offer a few examples:

    “Did you HEAR what he said? That was OBVIOUSLY racist.” = BAD.
    “That, to me, was racially insensitive.” = GOOD.

    “[So&So] should be fired for enacting such racist policies, and anyone who disagrees is a redneck moron!” = BAD.

    “[So&So] has enacted policies that have disproportionately affected certain groups, and I think that’s unfair” = GOOD.

    “If the tables were turned and [This Person] was [White/Black] nobody would’ve cared, but NOW, because they’re who they are, suddenly there’s a problem. That’s racist.” = BAD.

    “If the tables were turned and [This Person] was [White/Black], I don’t think the reaction/interaction would have happened exactly this way. Clearly there is something else going on, and race seems to be a factor here.” = GOOD.

    I know I’m an ENTP and I’m also a word nerd and I don’t expect everyone to talk like me, but PLEASE… have a modicum of respect and try to understand that there is more than one way of looking at a situation.

  39. gailsongbantum says:

    perhaps a helpful article on why christians can’t be post-racial: http://www.theotherjournal.com/article.php?id=851

  40. elderj says:

    Interesting that for some here, the protesters are motivations fall into about 3 categories:

    1) They are racist (and should be silenced)
    2) They are fearful of change (and should be patronizingly pitied)
    3) They are ignorant/stupid (and should be mocked or dismissed)

    Glad we got that out of the way

    @nourisha – it is hard to take this comment of yours seriously:

    i agree that you can’t label disapproval as racism

    because everything else in your comment does exactly that, and is prejudicially bigoted as well. You continue to assume motives based on the skin color and age of people who are upset. You lump every negative and/or racist thing that has been said about Obama in with people who may have nothing to do with it at all. You dismiss entirely people who may be Black who disagree with Obama or who may participate in these protests (I can only imagine that in your mind they are either deluded or Uncle Toms).

    I’m not ignorant of history and certainly am not deluded about the history and current reality of racism in our country. My parents lived through the Civil Rights movement, went to segregated schools and dealt with real actual employment and housing discrimination. But it is no more right for me to engage in that sort of bigotry than anyone else. It isn’t right when people judge me based on my color and make false assumptions about my motives or intentions. Why would I then do that to someone else?

    Racism is demonic and has been a powerful stronghold in our nation and world. And we have to deal with our demons. But we don’t deal with them by demonizing others.

  41. Maia says:

    Elderj, thanks for the response, I appreciate the discussion on a topic that I feel very deeply about.

    First- I’m not being dismissive just observing when people said “I just don’t trust him” and couldn’t give a reason, it was easy to see the real reason after years of hearing subtle racist remarks.

    Second- yes I think racism can be stronger in certain regions, in certain communities and in areas with a strong history of racism like the states who attempted secession during the civil war. Namely the south, obviously there are people in the South who are anti-racist.

    By bred I mean taught by family members from generation to generation which is reinforced in the larger community. Since slavery in the South still existed as late as the 1930s it is not a stretch to say that this mentality has been passed down to families that still live in the South today. My own great grandmother who is still alive was born in 1918.

    Lastly, I don’t really have any patience for white people who complain that they are scapgoats for racism. While anyone can make the best of their situation, this country has a well documented history of marginalizing entire ethnic groups for the benefit of white people.

    Whether or not your friends say a racist remark and have their feelings hurt doesn’t change the fact that they enjoy the benefits of a system that prefers them because of their whiteness. I think the systemic problems are starting to change but to say that white people being accused of racism are victims is outrageous, it may be unfair but lets focus on the greater injustice of years of marginalization of entire groups of people.

  42. Back in the Watergate years, a popular psychologist was on a promotional tour for a book that he had written about schizophrenia. A TV talk show host asked him whether he thought Richard Nixon might be schizophrenic. His reply: “I have no idea. I don’t know Richard Nixon.”

    I often think of the wisdom in that statement when I’m tempted to pass judgment on the motives of public figures. Although the media give us the illusion of “knowing” them, in reality we see only bits and pieces of their lives. We can and must make decisions about their actions, but it is very, very hard to go beyond an “educated guess” when we try to discern their hearts and minds.

    Personally, I think that discussing our best guesses is fine, so long as we acknowledge that we’re guessing. That goes for public figures, and it goes for fellow blog commenters. I appreciate that lots of the regular commenters on this blog work hard at crafting respectful responses to one another, but I still wince sometimes when commenters get pigeon-holed into categories just because they’ve used a certain phrase or defended a particular individual. At best a single comment is just a glimpse of the person who wrote it; we need to keep looking/listening before we assume we “know” the full reality of his/her worldview.

    Regarding racism, I find it helpful NOT to make it a synonym for prejudice. In her book, “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?” Beverly Daniel Tatum explores racism as “a system of advantage based on race.” That definition moves us past arguments about individual prejudices and forces us to look at how race determines advantage in our society. And what I see right now in the wake of the “You lie!” controversy is that the system of white advantage is in a state of flux. (I accidentally typed “state of panic” on first try — probably a Freudian slip!!) When I was a kid growing up in the Deep South, even at the very height of the Civil Rights Movement, it was socially acceptable to be publicly disrespectful toward a black man. The U.S. House of Representatives, by formally rebuking Rep. Wilson, has made it clear that that is no longer acceptable, at least when the black man in question happens to be the President of the United States. Whether or not Rep. Wilson’s motives were prejudicial, the House’s response goes against the flow of systemic white advantage, and that’s pretty amazing. I truly never thought I would live to see the day.

  43. Daniel Imburgia says:

    I thought I would post this over from another blog. “I got a note from a good friend yesterday expressing shock, and anger, about Drudge and Malkin’s usage of that alleged racial beat-down on a school-bus [to attack Obama]. On some level, I wonder if something’s wrong with me. I’m neither shocked, nor angry. This is exactly how I expected these fools to respond to a black president. If anything, I’m a little giddy. For black people, the clear benefit of Obama is that he is quietly exposing an ancient hatred that has simmered in this country for decades. Rightly or wrongly, a lot of us grew tired of Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, mostly because they presented easy foils for Limbaugh-land. Moreover, again rightly or wrongly, they were used to define all of us. It’s intensely grating to live say, in Atlanta, and have some dude in Harlem crowned as your unelected leader. It’s even more grating if said dude’s agenda seems, in large measure, come down to standing in front of cameras and tweaking his opponents. It’s no mistake that O’Reilly and Sharpton would break bread together at Sylvia’s–they feed each other. But Barack Obama, bourgeois in every way that bourgeois is right and just, will not dance. He tells kids to study–and they seethe. He accepts an apology for an immature act of rudeness–and they go hysterical. He takes his wife out for a date–and their veins bulge. His humanity, his ordinary blackness, is killing them. Dig the audio of his response to Kanye West–the way he says, “He’s a jackass.” He sounds like one of my brothers. And that’s the point, because that’s what he is. Barack Obama refuses to be their nigger. And it’s driving them crazy. obliged, Daniel

  44. Brad Halverson says:

    Ridiculous. Jimmy Carter keeps opening his mouth with stuff like this and diminishes the good work he’s done for non-profits. And to think I was inspired by him to help Habitat for Humanity. He needs a muzzle. I realize his upbringing and geographical proximity to deep seated racial issues influence his views makes him certainly very sensitized to it. I lived there. Atlanta is very tense, for sure. But for Jimmy to suggest there is the large group of “many” that are in fear of a black leader or are racially motivated? Where are these many? As if we’re surrounded my a national mood of some sort. I’ve not heard of this as a topic in my “whiter than average” circles. Then he says Wilson was motivated as such? How does he know? “Below average president confirms he is actually wacko” might be an appropriate newspaper headline. He’s the one talking without a filter, not Wilson. Has he been listening to the public outcry against this health care bill? Wilson was venting at (choose one) lies, half-truths, less than explained, twisted or varnished statements the president made. This has everything to do with health care. And that’s all.

  45. elderj says:

    @Maia – thanks for your response. I have said quite a lot on this thread, more than usual. I have been tempted to simply drop it several times as it seems clear to me to be a futile endeavor to express a contrary opinion to that which is dominant here. I am grateful for Eugene’s indulgence, as should we all be. I have remained engaged in the topic though because it is something exceedingly close to home.

    I am Black. I am from the south and have experienced it personally, not just anecdotally or via education and media.

    I have experienced prejudice about many things. BY far I experience worse prejudice and bigoted comments about where I’m from than the color of my skin. It is perhaps because people assume that I share their sentiments about the South. It is the only part of the country where you can be mocked simply because you were born there. Your accent can be mocked, your intelligence questioned, jokes made about incest, and assumptions made about racism. Try that on for size. When nearly EVERY media portrayal is constantly NEGATIVE all the time. When people move here and say, “Oh, it’s not like I thought it would be,” as if it were a compliment, akin to saying, “Oh, you’re not like other Black people.” So yeah, I get more than a little annoyed when people offer sanctimonious diagnoses about the south with little more than veiled superiority because they happen to be from some other place. And the southern states continue to bear to cross for the sins of the entire nation; a scapegoat for urban race riots in LA, housing discrimination in Chicago, job discrimination in the Northwest, being locked out of unions in the Midwest, the KKK running rampant in Indiana and the profits of slavery that bankrolled the industrial revolution in the north.

    Despite what you say, you are being very dismissive. Rather than listen to reasons people themselves give for their disagreement or anger, you dismiss them and say, it is race because you apparently, are able to diagnose from great distance and without conversation, the condition of their hearts based on your experience in your family.

    Clearly whites are advantaged in the United States. Absolutely. And the friends to which I refer are well aware of that. Indeed they’ve likely taken more hits by being actively anti-racist than many. They live with the reality of their privilege and see the costs of that privilege historically obtained. These are folks who put their neck on the line for the sake of reconciliation and justice. So yeah, it’s pretty bad when people like THAT have their motives impugned and their character demeaned because someone decides that their southern birth = racist in the cradle, and when they feel silenced to raise any criticism of the president lest it be deemed “racist”. And it pisseth me off.

    You see whites have no right to complain or criticize and if they do, they must prove they are not racist before being allowed to speak, especially if they are from the South. Southerners have racism “bred” into them. Do you not see how bigoted a comment that is? Try it this way:

    Second- yes I think sexual promiscuity can be stronger in certain groups, in certain communities and in areas with a strong history of deviancy like the Blacks who have more babies out of wedlock. Namely the Blacks, obviously there are people among the Black who are not deviants.

    By bred I mean taught by family members from generation to generation which is reinforced in the larger community. Since sexual promiscuity in the Blacks still existed as late as the 1930s it is not a stretch to say that this mentality has been passed down to the Blacks today. My own great grandmother who is still alive was born in 1918.

    But you know.. I’m from the south so maybe I’m racist

  46. aaron says:

    I think I am a little off topic but I do need to respond to the comments about “color blindness.” Now that I think about it maybe it is exactly on topic.

    first i think anyone who says they are color blind is stuggling with racist ideas and are really confused (maybe it is just ingnorance). To think that this concept is some how virtuous leads to a lot of questions in my mind. To say I don’t see what you look like and the culture you are a part of is to deny the very design of God. And sadly this is only said by white people so it historically does carry an unfortunate tone because only the dominant culture can dismiss ethnicity and get away with it as virtuous.

    Secondly (and more to the point but defintely connected), I really do believe that this idea that to deny any racism is gullible and dishonest. Now I am not saying that Wilson is a racist and it could be that his comments were strictly politically driven. I am perfectly fine with that.

    But what makes me question the authenticity of many who comment here is this idea that race never plays a role in anything when it comes to O’bama. Like it or not we live in a country that was founded on injusice and it was allowed to thrive for 100’s of years. These concepts and racial tensions are a part of the American way and to deny them is ridiculous. I am not saying there is a racist “under every rock” but for all these Christians (of which I am honored to be called) to emphatically say over and over again that they don’t like O’bama’s policies is the reason for them not liking/or voting for O’bama to me is a clear sign that race is thought of hence the need for clarification when they talk of their dislike of O’bama (wow that was a huge run on sentence… sorry).

    Anyway like I said I am fine with saying Wilson’s comment were politcally driven only but to get in an uproar as if it COULDNT be racially driven to me is at best nieve.

    It’s almost as if people really think that these injustices are ancient history and to allude to any racial injustice is just “fueling the fire” as some have said. In no way are we MANY years removed from these horrible “legal” acts of the past and we certainly are facing the results of these injustices like never before in under resourced african american communities.

    Contrary to popular belief, the issues that are so glaring in the “black” community didn’t happen over night but rather is a result of 100’s of years of injustice and to think that these issues can be fixed over night is ridiculous. I am not trying to negate personal responsibility but am saying that the societal cards are definitely stacked against the black community more so than any other community because of 100’s of years of history not in our favor.

    All this to say it seems like many who claim that race has nothing to do with anything are in effect claiming “color blindness” and this is very discouraging.

    That is my two cents and forgive me for my spelling… I need a cup of coffee and I just spent hours preparing a sermon so my brain is fried.

    Grace and Peace!

  47. Maia says:

    elderj, I’m glad you didn’t drop it because I think talking these things out is really the only way to see what people really think and feel.

    By doing that I do not mean to be biggoted- I am trying to do the exact opposite, hear out your opinion and see where we differ.

    I definitely disagree with you on a few things but I don’t think I’m being intolerant of you view, if I am please point it out.

    By saying that I believe racism is perpetuated in the South through generations (what I meant by “bred”) I am not saying that it applies to everyone from the South or that I would assume just because someone is from the South that they are racist. On the other hand it seems obvious to me that the history of entrenched racism stemming as far back as the birth of this nation is still most prominent in the South but is experienced everywhere. Are you convinced that the level of racism is the same in the South as it is in the rest of the nation? I am asking you seriously, especially since you grew up there.

    And yes, from a distance is all I have the option of making my judgements from- and as much as I don’t want to believe it, I can’t help feel that folks are just upset about the color of Obama’s skin.

    The Tea-Partys claim to be about people upset over government spending. So upset, Texas threatened to sucede from the union. If this is really about what they say it is, money, then why were they silent as Bush spent billions for a war in Iraq? Where is the protesting and outrage against private companies that waste their money?

    It seems that the anti-Obama movement is producing extraordinarily angry protestors and not your run of the mill opponents. The closest I can think Bush faced was a shoe being thrown at him by a reporter but that happened in another country.

    Also, I hope you really aren’t racist :)

  48. [...] jimmy carter, barack obama, wilson, racism, “you lie” and the perpetual elephant in the room « … eugenecho.wordpress.com/2009/09/16/jimmy-carter-barack-obama-wilson-racism-you-lie-and-the-perpetual-elephant-in-the-room – view page – cached jimmy carter, barack obama, wilson, racism, “you lie” and the perpetual elephant in the room — From the page [...]

  49. prophetik soul says:

    Instead of saying wilson was racist, I would say he was disrespectful and irresponsible.

    I say this because since the presidential campaign, there has been a sustained movement to see Obama fail. I believe wilsons outbursts helps fuel these attitudes and emboldens them. I would also say this movement has racial undertones and have blended with protestors who have legit concerns about obama’s policies.

    But do you want to know what is extremely disappointing? I am wondering for the sake of solidarity, if these people are blending together which makes it look like those with legit concerns are willing to allow racial insensitivity to taint their message…for the sake of being heard.

    Whew! Hope that makes sense.

  50. Maia says:

    I think the prophetic soul hit it right on.

  51. Patrick O says:

    The difficulty for me comes in considering the fact that had Colin Powell run for president in the 90s he almost certainly would have won on a Republican ticket. He was then chosen as the Secretary of State, to be followed up by Condoleeza Rice.

    At the same time, there was opposition to Bush, vehement opposition, often evil and malicious, about his mannerisms, appearance, phrasing, intelligence. He was compared to Hitler, and made up to look like a Chimp.

    Comparing someone to Hitler (seeming to be the biggest charge here) isn’t racist. It’s wrong and stupid, but it’s not racist. It’s pretty common in fact.

    All Presidents are criticized. Sometimes the Criticism takes on a really nasty tone. Ask the Clintons if being white helped foster more genteel responses from the Right. Ask the Left why so much anger was thrown against GWB.

    Obama is black, and there is still racism. But, honestly, throwing out the charge of racism seems all too much an Alinksy style tactic of attacking opponents below the belt to attempt to disarm and distract their core arguments.

    It’s especially rich charging racism against Obama after hearing so, so, so much stuff against Bush all those years.

    It’s sort of like saying that all the opposition to Bush’s foreign policy was racist because his Secretaries of State were black.

    I honestly don’t see any difference between the opposition of the last three Presidents. Opposing the President in our era has a pretty harsh, color-blind, tone, and Obama is feeling the same heat.

    Only he has a distinct distraction, which while certainly true in some cases, is now being maliciously applied, ignoring at the same time the viciousness against Bush. This is not a right-wing/left-wing thing. This is a human, political thing.

  52. Tom Freiling says:

    Um, didn’t an overwhelming majority of Americans vote FOR this black man for President? And didn’t an overwhelming majority of Americans SUPPORT this black man in January when he was inaugurated? His problem is not his race. His problem is that he stopped doing what he said he was going to do. Instead of changing things, he is just doing them the same old way. So I don’t get why all of a sudden people are blaming this on his race. Something ELSE changed. He’s as black as he was in November when 60 million people (most of ‘em white) voted for him. I personally had hoped for better. I didn’t vote for him but I did have some hope that somehow this black man could make a difference and CHANGE our country and the way things are done in Washington D.C. But if people start to say his problem is that he’s black, well that’s too simplistic for me.

  53. Jimmy Carter has done a lot of great things in his life, but if we are being honest he has one foot in the grave and really should keep his mouth shut. If you really think racism has played no role in Obama’s presidency, I have some swamp land I can sell you. What other U.S. President has been accused of forging a birth certificate and that he wasnt really born in this country, even after supplying the necessary documentation?

  54. prophetiksoul says:

    Patrick, the criticsim Bush received was over 8 years. I saw characterizations of him that were wrong as well. Barack hasnt even been in office for a year. I dont think you can really compare the two.

    If anything, look at Bush’s first 9 months in office and compare it to Barack’s.

    Let me know what you find.

  55. csy says:

    Andy M – as a non-white person, I appreciate your comments about color-blindness. We have our differences re: race (harkening back to an exchange with you in March under a post about Eric Holder), but your thoughts on color-blindness were well-stated.

    I don’t venture much to this blog, but the few times I do, race seems to be the “topic d’jour”. :-)

  56. Eugene Cho says:

    @csy: “topic d’jour?”

    don’t forget my beyonce post.

  57. [...] reflected in the disrespect shown by Rep. Wilson’s outburst, another regular contributor, Eugene Cho, questions the fairness of that allegation: Wilson certainly deserved to be called out for his disruptive and outrageous outburst but to [...]

  58. Alline says:

    Thanks for posting this! Love it.

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One Day’s Wages

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Seattle. Home, sweet home. And home of the Super Bowl champions. Thank you, New York and NJ. You're beautiful. Appreciate your warmth & hospitality. Morning hike. My features over at @miir are hosting a book.giveaway + their world.class  tumblers. "Hot off the press! Eugene Cho, founder of @onedayswages, has a new book titled Overrated that will challenge you to actually change the world. We've got two signed copies to give away. Like this post AND tag a friend for your chance to win both copies and #MiiR tumblers." Good morning from Seattle!

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