I think it is very important for people who have different views to be able to express their views in peaceful demonstrations. Without the Civil Rights demonstrations including the famous March on Washington in August 1963, there would not have been a Civil Rights Act in 1964 nor a Voting Rights Act in 1965. Peaceful demonstrations can and do positively contribute to change. What has seriously troubled me over the past 3-1/2 years, however, is the nastiness, racism, disrespect, fabrications, bringing guns to events where the President was speaking, and even “death threats” against our President perpetuated by right wing radical talk show hosts and conservative media. History teaches us that every Democratic president since FDR has experienced right-wing “negative rhetoric” but never to this decree with such blatant racism overtones even confirmed by some of the pictures noted in the 9/12 march in 2009.
Unfortunately, it took a former president using frank language to get the nation’s pundits to focus on an issue that has troubled some since the first Tea Party protestor tossed a pouch of Lipton into the Potomac. How much of this hysterical opposition to President Barack Obama was about reaction to his race? President Carter had little doubt, telling NBC’s Brian Williams: “I think it’s bubbled up to the surface because of the 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.” Racism-still alive.
Why did opponents of Obama refuse to believe he was a U.S. citizen as characterized by the “birther conspiracy?” Despite evidence to the contrary, the conspirators continued deny his citizenship and love for this country. Why did some brandish photo shopped images showing Obama in African tribal garb and insisted on calling him a “thug” with no supporting evidence? Yet, another brand of racism. It is difficult for the media to cover race stories because of their discomfort with the topic, the difficulty in talking about race issues when they may not be the dominant element in a story, and the difficulty in talking about a subject when neither side on the issue wants to discuss it.
Race-baiting conservative talk host Rush Limbaugh turned Carter’s words into an argument against electing a black president at all. “Any criticism of an African American president’s policies or positions or statements is racist and that’s it,” he stated on his radio program. Why didn’t conservative leaders condemn those who made racist arguments against Obama? To my knowledge, Republican Lindsey Graham was the only one to speak out condemning the comments by Beck, Limbaugh and others.
What was seen on Wednesday, September 12th, 2009, was a lot of conservatives refusing to acknowledge an important fact — just as you can’t dismiss every Obama critic as a racist, you can’t pretend there isn’t a racial subtext to some of his opposition. Instead, former RNC Chairman Michael Steele, Charles Krauthammer and Mary Matalin and others refused to consider the notion that some Obama critics may be using racist language and imagery. While I don’t think it’s fair to call Joe Wilson’s outburst during Obama’s State of the Union message an expression of racism or prejudice (although the President was correct in that the House Bill contains Section 246 titled, “NO FEDERAL PAYMENT FOR UNDOCUMENTED ALIENS,” which states: “Nothing in this subtitle shall allow Federal payments for affordability credits on behalf of individuals who are not lawfully present in the United States.”), there were plenty of other voices out there criticizing Obama that were less ambiguous — many of them in right-wing media.
What else can you conclude when Limbaugh goes on air to talk about a white kid getting beaten up on a school bus, declaring “in Obama’s America, the white kids now get beat up with the black kids cheering”? Police eventually said the fight occurred over seating on the bus, not racism. Limbaugh further declared on his program that the United States needed to return to racially segregated buses. Remember, this is the same person who claims that he doesn’t practice racism, but who stated three years ago that he wanted the President to fail.
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