Saturday, September 19, 2009

Race is not the overriding issue,

was the claim being made in an interview with CNN, and covered by Matt Spetalnick For Reuters. The interviewee was disagreeing with former President Carter, who had said, "I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man."

"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," he said. He likened it to FDR being called a communist or socialist when the New Deal was being debated. "Things that were said about Ronald Reagan when he was trying to reverse some of the New Deal programs were pretty vicious as well," he said.

While not denying there were some racists out there, he was quick to point out the flip side- that there were those who voted for President Obama only because of his race as well.

Now I know some of you are saying, "Yeah, we've heard you and CC both say these things before, and just because you've got some pundit to quote doesn't make any of you right- who was it, George Will or Charles Krauthammer? Actually, it was President Obama who said those things. There's a short clip here and a longer story here .


Chalicechick said...

In all fairness, I don't know that Obama himself sees the criticism as being as divorced from racism as he claims he does in this interview.

He does know, however, that claiming that it isn't about race, it's about politics, is the smart thing to do at this juncture.

I do agree with him there.

who thinks you can criticize racism is mainstream culture all you like, but in politics, you have to keep your eye on the ball all the time and not argue about racism if not arguing is what will get you what you want.

Joel Monka said...

True, it may be only political calculus, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if he believed it as well. You'll never hear me say there is no racism any more, but I do say that racism is no longer the "ism", as it once was, more important than any other, but merely an ism, not remarkably greater or worse than the rest. In fact, if I were hazarding a guess as to the impact of the isms, I would place racism no better than third place, behind classism and sexism. Barack Obama arguably is President precisely because sexism is now greater than racism.

Bill Baar said...

Remember when Jesse Jackson said he would cut Obama's balls off for talking down to black people?

I listened to Obama for many years know and he's always seemed a guy playing in subtle ways to white audiences.

None of which has much to do with the question at hand though. The people out there in the Tea Parties are mad at big government. That's the emotional issue after the GM buyout and everything.

If Obama agrees to the 40k troop increase for Afghanistan, a lot of people saying racism driving opposition to Obama, are going to be opposed to him too; but they wouldn't consider their opposition racist.

I'll be with Obama on Afghanistan. So will Congressman Joe Wilson, and many others.

ogre said...

Where "arguably" means what?

If we ignore that Obama's a superb orator?

If we ignore that he didn't indulge in any bizarre, demonstrably not-true, gaffes during the campaign for the nomination?

If we ignore that Hillary Clinton was the target of a steady hate and loathing campaign on the right for years? Those campaigns do have an effect--they're intended to, and people spend the time and money they spend on them BECAUSE they are effective. Her negatives were driven up.

Make the argument. The assertion that it's arguable is weaseling... suggesting that the argument is fairly strong.

It's not.

She had the benefit of being the presumptive nominee. She had the party apparatus and the DLC in her pocket. Her husband's support. The financing. And she blew it...

Arguable? Feh

I'll agree that classism is a greater ~ism -- but then I'll argue that it's always been a greater ~ism.

Incidentally, I don't know what the current number is that's used to compare what women make versus men (I recall seeing 77%... but don't know if there's been any improvement; I'll bet it's not up to 80% though). The comparison looking at Black family income versus White family income (2004 numbers) suggests that the analog would be 62% (and that's rounding up).

ogre said...

Bill, what you're hearing is that Obama speaks to middle class folks and values.

Which sounds "white" to people because white is equated with middle class (and up the economic scale).

Joel Monka said...

"Make the argument. The assertion that it's arguable is weaseling... suggesting that the argument is fairly strong. It's not."

I have been making the argument for over a year. Obama's campaign did not take off until after several Hillary supporters withdrew their promised support and supported Obama instead. They did not do this until after polls were taken showing that a man, any man, even a black man, would beat a woman, any woman, even in the racist south. My argument, that the double whammy of Hillary losing big supporters and Obama gaining them, with all the fund raising ability that goes with it, cost Hillary the nomination. The timing of the defections may have been completely coincidental, but it's not weak to suspect that their coming after the sexism poll means thet polls were the cause... if the hate campaign against her was the cause, why did they support her at first? If the superb oratory was the cause of the defections, why did they wait until then? Did Obama's oratory noticeably improve after that poll?

"I'll agree that classism is a greater ~ism -- but then I'll argue that it's always been a greater ~ism."

No, it hasn't. The first woman millionaire in the world to earn her money rather than inherit it was a black woman, Indianapolis' own CJ Walker. But even though she was a millionaire back when white laborers were earning $2.00 per day, her money couldn't buy her access to a whites only restroom in many cities.

Chalicechick said...

I can add another racism-trumping-classism story:

My employment law professor's uncle taught law at a black law school in Alabama. When he made his yearly attempt to register to vote once, the registrar asked him to explain the Commerce Clause, which of course he did at great length.

The registrar asked him several other questions about the American Government and he answered them in law-professor levels of detail.

The registrar thanked him and, my professor implied regretfully, said there was one more test, a reading test.

She handed him a page of writing in Chinese.

My professor's uncle handed the page back and said "It says there will be no black people registering to vote in Alabama today."


Joel Monka said...

That was in the book Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin

Chalicechick said...

Huh. Well, the law professor said it happened to his Uncle. So either the law professor's uncle is the guy in the book, the law professor fudged the truth to make a point, or the uncle did.

Either way, I tend to think it happened to somebody.