It is a constant source of amazement that nobody—neither blacks nor whites—place much stock in the president’s white parentage. Raised by his white mother and white grandparents, there is likely no more American a guy breathing than Barack Obama. This is what makes the conservative front so insipidly heinous: it is racism in its purest sense. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the quality of the person—qualities that line him up more consistently with White America than Black. It is a loathing, a personal hatred, that begins and ends with skin color. The fundamental, unifying factor between the vast majority of conservatives, white conservatives most especially, is their absolute refusal to accept Barack Obama as president of the United States.
Of course, that’s because Barack Hussein Obama is like no other
president in American history, but that’s not what I’m talking
about. They don’t treat him as historic or unique, they treat
him as illegitimate; which is ironic considering President
Obama’s predecessor was not elected but was
appointed by the
U.S. Supreme Court. Vice President Al Gore won the popular vote
in the 2000 presidential election, but the Supreme Court ended a
recount of shady Florida voting practices. The state, governed by
Mr. Bush's brother, invalidated substantial numbers of lower-income
district votes—most of them, likely, for Al Gore—due to aging voting machines which
failed to completely punch through the cards, thus leaving
"hanging chads" on thousands of ballots. In spite of his questionable “win,”
laughable dearth of articulation and clear disconnect from
issues of vital national importance, Mr. Bush, whom a majority
of noted presidential scholars rank among the
in American history, was afforded all of the respect and gravity
of his office. Mr. Obama, on the other hand, elected in a solid
electoral college majority, admired globally
with foreign leaders scrambling to have their picture taken with
him, thoughtful, articulate, laser-focused on detail, who saved
the nation from a second Great Depression as a result of Mr.
Bush’s disastrous polices and who has restored in great measure
the nation’s international dignity and standing, is regularly
dismissed as a lightweight and shown a historic, shockingly low
level of deference and respect.
Intellectuals burn up thousands of terabytes of data streams examining this phenomena, openly pondering why this president is so disrespected to the point of the very Office of the President being undermined. This earnestly stupid discussion makes even liberal pundits look like idiots. Nobody wants to be the one to openly say it, as anyone who states the plainly obvious reason—racism—is immediately excoriated and attacked. So, everyone treads lightly, giving right-wing bigots an absurdly outsized benefit of the doubt, when we can all see with our own eyes and hear with our own ears the seditious stirring and encouragement of racism as a flatly obvious GOP political tactic.
The real problem, however, is political greed and short-sightedness. What we have seen, now often repeated, is devastating long-term consequences to the American people from Republican political tactics such as their refusal to raise the debt ceiling and the government shutdown. Having been virtually co-opted by the tinfoil hat folks in the Tea Party, many mainstream Republicans have quietly defected, now describing themselves as "moderates" or "independents." The GOP has filled in those open seats with their extreme fringe, pandering to the very worst and most extreme thinking within their party. They likely had no choice but to go ugly in a big way in order to recruit Jethro, Mahw Anem to fill spaces usually occupied by reasonable and thoughtful conservatives. The long-term effects of pandering to the low-information, low-tolerance Duck Dynasty crowd are yet to be seen, but a resurgence in hate speech and the Republicans' making racism and racist rhetoric socially acceptable once more has badly damaged and divided the American public. Oddly, the GOP don't seem to mind wearing the black hat, in spite of the obvious fact that none of their obstructionist, reactionary, racist political tactics have netted them a major win. They have, at best, frustrated the president's agenda, rather than make the president pay for every step forward by dealing away something to the GOP, which is how Washington is supposed to work: ok, you win, but it'll cost you. The Republicans are not governing. None of their sophomoric childish tantrums serve the American public.
I realize all my finger-wagging suppositions about the motives of people who irrationally loathe the president sound, at times, irrational and loathsome, as if I hate those people. I honestly don't. I hate the caprice with which leaders, political and religious, tell us two plus two equals born-in-Kenya. I hate the fact that grown men and women actually choose to believe things they know are both irrational and could not possibly be true simply to avoid what's really bothering them about this guy. I deeply disliked George W. Bush's policies and consider his presidency to have been a complete failure. I did not, however, dislike him personally. I actually admired him a great deal as Texas governor, where Mr. Bush routinely crossed the political aisle to get things done. In Texas, he was Mr. Let's Make A Deal. In the White House, he seemed to veer hard right and just lost me but, as a person, as a human person fella, George W. Bush was quite personable, friendly, very funny, and he cared deeply for people of all ethnicities. What's got me so riled up now is radical conservatism's having made their disagreement with Barack Obama so irrationally personal. By any objective standard, Barack "Barry" Obama is a personable, friendly, very funny, decent human being who cares deeply for people of all ethnicities. It is completely fair to disagree with his policies, or maybe he drags his feet too long, or maybe you don't like his dog or the way he parts his hair. Fine. But if it's something else— something that embarrasses or even humiliates you so much you can't even face it—let's have that conversation. That conversation will, at least, be honest.
The fundamental, unifying factor between the vast majority of conservatives, white conservatives most especially, is their absolute refusal to accept Barack Obama as president of the United States. The Kenya thing was a real hook for the Live In Denial crowd, so much so that they (as well as the vast majority of the American public) missed the point that it ultimately didn't matter where Obama was born. His mother was a U.S. citizen, therefore, so is he. It was ridiculously ironic that these deranged mouth-breathers used that very argument to defend Obama's 2008 challenger, Arizona Senator John McCain, who was, in fact, not born in the United States (McCain was born in Panama) while claiming Obama was part of some 46-year conspiracy to put a Manchurian candidate into the Oval Office. These folks fill up terabytes of data with talking head nonsense, but the plain, obvious, simple truth of the matter is Barack Hussein Obama is a black man and they hate him.
They know it. We know it. The analysts know it. All the rest is just us wasting electricity, what my mom used to call "burning lights." Never in the history of the United States has a sitting president been heckled at an address to a joint session of Congress. The pervasive lack of respect, a cottage industry for Fox News, has become the baseline for white conservatives. These same people despised Senator John Kerry, loathed President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore. But, even at the height of Bill Clinton’s personal disgrace, when all of Congress—Democrat and Republican—wanted to lynch him, at no time was President Clinton treated as poorly as President Obama is routinely treated today. Now, why is that? Burn up them lights, wear out your fingers typing. Barack Hussein Obama is a black man and they hate him.
For me, it is a constant source of amazement
that nobody—neither blacks nor whites—place much stock in the
president’s white parentage. Raised by his white mother and white
grandparents, Barack Obama is clearly a man at least slightly
out of sync with mainstream black America—as is this writer. He
is a man we might once have ridiculed as an “egghead” and mocked
for his intelligence. We might once have called him an “Oreo”
because he does not drop his g’s or sling that Ebonics nonsense.
Barack Obama is a man we might once have rejected as not black
enough, but whom we now embrace because of the historic nature
of his rise to power. And now we—black folk, church folk—are
just as guilty of the same sin of racism, defending the
while, at the same time, routinely rejecting men just like him:
blacks borne of dual lineage who tend to gravitate toward the
Meanwhile, all White America can see is black, ignoring the absolute fact that Barack Obama likely has more in common with them than with us. This is what makes the conservative front so insipidly heinous: it is racism in its purest sense. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the quality of the person—qualities that line him up more consistently with White America than Black. It is a loathing, a personal hatred, that begins and ends with skin color. The rest is all a bunch of useless typing and talking heads. Barack Hussein Obama is a black man and they hate him.
And, I believe, when that is finally understood, we, as a nation,
may finally be able to move forward.