Saturday, September 19, 2009

Are President Obama's Opponents Racist?

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter raised a bit of a ruckus this past week when he claimed that "an overwhelming portion" of President Barack Obama's opponents are racists. Coming on the heels of U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson's outburst during the President's address to Congress on health care reform, Carter's assertions have certainly drawn a lot of attention.

Although I definitely believe that racism is alive and well, I do think that it is unfair to make the kind of statements that Pres. Carter has made on this matter. For sure, some people didn't vote for Barack Obama because of his skin color. And some may disagree with any policy he proposes for the same reason. But should we reasonably expect people to not be able to vocalize disagreement with Pres. Obama simply because he's black?

Fortunately, even the President understands that he is going to be criticized and that it comes with the territory. In an interview that will be airing tomorrow with CNN's John King, President Obama says this:
"Are there people out there who don't like me because of race? I'm sure there are. That's not the overriding issue here," he said. "I think there are people who are anti-government. I think there's been a long-standing debate in this country that is usually that much more fierce during times of transition, or when presidents are trying to bring about big changes."
There are individuals that simply have different ideologies when it comes to the role of government and policies that should be enacted. It doesn't mean they are racist if they disagree with the nation's first African American president. Darryl Owens, a columnist for The Orlando Sentinel who happens to be African American, weighs in on the issue:
"Undoubtedly, Obama could reverse the recession, win the war in Afghanistan and cure cancer tomorrow, and a phalanx of haters would find him repugnant because of his skin tone. But I'm not willing to paint a red "R" on a broad swath of protesters when there are legitimate policy objections out there.

In fact, I oppose Obama's embrace of abortion, don't like the pork packed into bailouts and question the breathless urgency of reforming health care. And I betcha won't find an Aryan Nation decoder ring in my wallet.

On the other hand, despite Obama's words to the contrary, there also is no doubt that vestiges of racial attitudes have added logs to the fiery protests."
Yes, racism exists and, yes, there are some whose prejudice drives their opposition to the President. But lets me careful to not be slinging barbs at people that may just think that the president's perspective on a certain issue is incorrect. Let's stick to the issues at hand and focus on that which will be beneficial.

1 comment:

Michael Lantz said...

I don't think that Barack Obama's opponents are racist,no more than Bill Clintons or George Bush's opponents were racist when they criticized them.I know plenty of African-Americans who were critical of Bush,I don't think they were racist.I was critical of Bush as well.That is part of the political process.