Thursday, July 15, 2010

Dear NAACP: Where Were Ya'll LAST Year?!?

I've said it several times in the past, and I'll say it again: The election of Barack Obama was the worst thing to happen to American race relations in my short 36 years of life. The reasons why have zero to do with Obama, or anything he's done legislatively. While I certainly don't agree with everything he's done since in office, and still find him profoundly lacking in the area of leadership, I'm on board with most of his signature initiatives. I also think that once all's said and done, his time as President will have generally left the country in better shape than when he arrived.

That said, right now, we're far worse off as a nation, because for myriad reasons Obama's election has either awoken or simply emboldened (take your pick) some of the worst things about this country. On any given day, I can look at my RSS reader and find a dozen or so new stories that contain some toxic confluence of politics and race. Seriously, there's the whole NAACP vs Tea Party nonsense. Fox News' completely manufactured Black Panther Party brouhaha. Rush Limbaugh uses the occasion of George Steinbrenner's death to note how many black millionaires that "cracker" made. A GOP Congressional candidate says Obama will "take away" his constituents' right to be Christians. Republicans on the Hill keep fighting against unemployment benefits extensions, a debate with a very shady "Us vs Them" undertone. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer becomes an overnight celebrity by essentially legalizing racial profiling. Sarah Palin basically calls the NAACP racist. Obama's approval ratings among whites drops to an all-time low.

When I sit and watch all this, and listen to Conservative commentary, there seems to be an unwritten (and sometimes blatant) notion that Obama and his minions are out for some form of cosmic getback, to finally repay white folks for centuries of oppression. ObamaCare will only benefit poor minorities. Obama is taxing rich white folks into chattel slavery. Obama's Justice Department is only concerned about the civil rights of blacks. Obama wants to open our borders and allow all sorts of illegals and evil brown people to come in and rape and pillage Middle America. You'd assume that Armageddon was just around the corner.

If you've read my blog, I've been very insistent in my opinion that most of the backlash against Obama isn't racially motivated. I've always considered it to byproduct of a very difficult economic time during which some very difficult decisions have needed to be made, decisions which aren't always perfect. Combine the desperation of a bad (although rapidly improving) economy, typical anti-incumbent sour grapes, and an ever evolving media, and it's easy for folks to get pissed off. I've always asserted that at most, 25% of the opposition we've been seeing is racial. Much of the rest is just manufactured, misplaced, or magnified anger.

But I can't help but notice the change in tone of late, especially when you combine the tricky topics of illegal immigration, the NAACP, and the Black Panthers. Call me nuts, but I can't help but think there's some well organized, well disguised ploy here to stoke up white resentment and get folks to the polls in November.

And that's why the NAACP's year-late and a dollar-short decision to call out the Tea Party is so untimely and so shortsighted. Seriously, why weren't Ben Jealous and Co. standing on their soap boxes last summer when Tea Party nuttiness was at its apex? In case you didn't notice, those folks retreated to their double wides caves after ObamaCare passed. I'm not calling the "movement" dead, not when they've got a handful of wackjob candidates with reasonable chances to win in the Fall.

But the very racist factions that the NAACP is calling out are long since gone back into hiding. Without a misguided cause to fight against, these folks are pretty hapless, and downright irrelevant. Should their candidates of choice actually win in the Fall, it's possible their influence could actually diminish even more. After all, should a Sharron Angle or Rand Paul actually make it to DC, they'll have to either fall in lockstep with the GOP (likely) or find themselves on a legislative island of their own. Face it, no Republican is gonna vote for the elimination of Social Security or the Department of Education. That sh*t's not gonna happen, even if they regain the House and Senate. At best, these Tea Partiers will find themselves merely cogs in the very institutional wheels they claim to most despise.

The NAACP jumping in this a year late isn't gonna make a difference.

Question: Should the NAACP have even bothered with this "resolution"? Are they a year late, or is this right on time? How much of the anti-Obama sentiment in the country right now is legit, and how much of it is fueled by race?

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