Wednesday, September 16, 2009

If It Ain't Race, Then What Is It?!?

Assuming you read this blog with any regularity, you guys know me well by now. One thing I don't do here is just liberally toss around the word "racism". I thought the whole Jena Six thing was little more than an overhyped spectacle. I didn't consider the Skip Gates incident to be racial profiling. And I've tried, although you might not see the evidence of it here, to keep a level head as I've watched these Tea Party demonstrations, Townhall protesters, and folks concerned that Obama is trying to taint their children, to separate legitimate beefs from pure, unchecked racism.

I recently had an offline convo with a white friend with whom I go waaaaay back, about the root of all this conflict. He insisted that much of the intensity of what you're seeing is that white folks just want to be taken seriously, and are agitated that they're being accused of being racist simply because they're protesting a black President. I wondered, given the hollowness of some of what they're protesting (and the way that they're going about protesting), what the hell else could it be about, but race?

Consider the following.

You're a black person living in America. All your life, you've had your credentials challenged by co-workers, your intelligence underestimated by teachers, you've been followed around stores, followed by police, and prolly much worse. Essentially, you've been treated like a second-class citizen, while paying the same damn taxes and making the same damn sacrifices for this country which (however flawed) you love.

Magically, out of nowhere, a biracial man who self-identifies as black captures the nation and wins the Presidency. A month into his first term, he passes bank and auto bailouts that essentially mimic (with greater financial protections of taxpayer money) the very same things the White President who preceded him did only months earlier. He passes an economic stimulus bill that gives financial assistance to those most effected by this financial recession that he inherited in the form of unemployment and healthcare benefits, as well as a staggering number of tax cuts, and funds for infrastructure projects that could put blue collar Americans back to work. He pushes legislation to stop credit card companies from gouging consumers, legislation for equal rights of women in the workplace, and legislation to prevent home foreclosures, all in the first six months. All initiatives that benefit "Middle America". He also attempts to push legislation for affordable healthcare, so that ALL Americans might be covered, and not find their lives in financial ruin should they get sick.

Instead of applauding this man as being proactive and trying to assist the most vulnerable Americans, he is painted by these very same most vulnerable Americans as a "Socialist" for essentially duplicating the same bailouts as his White predecessor. He is compared to Hilter and Stalin, by people who think he wants to rob them of their individual liberties, steal their guns, silence their favorite talk radio friends, and defacate on the Constitution. He is allegedly "bankrupting the country", although folks conveniently overlook the fact that the prior President didn't include all the military spending for two wars that were completely avoidable in his annual budget for years. Nor do they account for the fact that the prior President gave massive tax cuts to the rich (and $300 tax rebate checks to them as a smokescreen), which also added to this staggering deficit (after he inherited a record surplus). They also question this man's citizenship, although it's been long since proven. And in a show of unbridled ignorance, many even keep their kids home from school, scared that this President will "indoctrinate" their kids with a 15 minute speech shown over the internet.

Tell me, if you're a Black person in America, what the hell else can you chalk all this up to?!?!?!?

Really? Given all the stuff (having your legitimacy questioned, working twice as hard to get half as far), that I tell you Average, real life black folks have to put up with everyday in this country, what the hell else would we conclude from watching this increasingly ugly spectacle?

[Admittedly Poorly Segued Editor's Note: The GOP is predictably accusing ex-Prez Jimmy Carter of "playing the race card" for publicly suggesting that some of the protesters are a wee bit racist. I gotta ask, is there anything that qualifies as racism to the GOP? Anything at all? Who does a guy have to lynch around here to be called a racist? Sheesh. And in case you were wondering, yes, they dispatched Negro Watchdog Michael Steele to do the honors.]

I don't have problems with legitimate concerns. I think the stimulus should have been all spending, no tax cuts, and half the final cost, and the money still isn't making it out the door quickly enough. I have concerns about how this healthcare bill will be paid for. I still think he puts too much trust in the folks on The Hill, rather than being a vocal, visible leader when it counts. Believe me, I don't drink any Obama Kool-Aid. But I support him because of his position of authority, don't regret voting for him, and still think he's the right President for the country right now.

My problem with these marchers is simple: if they are all about "legitimate issues", then why do they allow idiots with signs comparing Obama to Hilter, Stalin, Rebb'n Wright, Bin Laden, and Satan amongst their ranks? How come I don't hear them checking each other, and asking each other to keep the on-message, rather than veering over the line into hate-mongering? Why don't they realize that the very folks standing beside them (or worse, giving them instructions on TV and radio) are their own worse enemies, and are the very ones undermining their very legitimate points? Again, if these "wingnuts" are such a small minority in the sea of those with legitimate concerns, why don't those with legit concerns snuff these idiots out? Perhaps the idiots aren't as small a minority as one might think.

Until I see some self-policing, I can only assume that those with legitimate gripes either complictly agree with, or willingly tolerate the ignorance of those who have nothing but hatred cloaked in "Socialist" rhetoric.

Forgive me if I neither have the energy, nor the inclination to try and surmise the difference between the two.

Question: How much of the Obama criticism is legitimate disagreement over policy decisions, how much of it is inflated by Conservative talking heads, and how much of it is just plain ole' racism?

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