There are different schools of thought on what racism is, and scholars find little room for agreement on whether the concept of race contributes to discrimination, but an accepted definition of racism is the views, practices and actions reflecting the belief that humanity is divided into races and that members of a certain race share attributes which make that group either less desirable, more desirable, inferior, or superior. America still suffers from racism and racial discrimination, and although it appeared the disease was waning from the population over the past couple of decades, it re-emerged from its dormancy with the election of Barack Obama as President in 2008. Even though it is politically incorrect to use racially pejorative words in reference to the President, there has been no dearth of surrogate terms to portray President Obama as “the other,” and after over four years of Republican pandering to spokespersons to do their racial dirty work, the bigots’ comfort level is bearing fruit and exposing the racial animus still plaguing America.
The pushback against revelations cooking-show maven Paula Deen is a racist is a good beginning to ferret out and dispose of media personalities comfortable espousing their racial bigotry, but for every exposed racist there are thousands of others teeming under the radar. Republicans have fostered suspicion of the President’s identity and legitimacy as an American, and it has taken root and become so matter-of-fact that media espouses it reveals it has gone too far. The report that Yahoo News published an article announcing that “Barack Obama makes his first extended trip to Africa of his presidency next week—but he won’t be stopping at the country of his birth” may have been a mistake, but after four years of debate, discussion, and releasing his long form birth certificate, it is beyond the pale the reporter and editor made such an idiotic error. The report was quickly remedied, but the damage had already been done and revealed birthers, racists, and Republicans’ surrogates had achieved their goal of inculcating in a large swath of America that President Obama is not a legitimate American.
That the President is not American has nothing to do with his place of birth regardless the birther movements’ contention; it is his race. On Thursday, a conservative Christian radio host and hate monger, Bryan Fischer, exposed his racial animus toward the President when he asserted that “what you’re about to see, ladies and gentlemen, is Barack Obama is going to be kicked to the Democratic bus, and the Democratic Party is going to tell him to sit in the back of the bus. The front of the Democratic bus belongs to white person, Hillary Clinton.” The Civil Rights symbolism is unmistakable and nothing whatsoever to do with Democrats speculating and preparing to promote Hillary Clinton as a presidential candidate in 2016, and Fischer is well aware his comments were a message to racists, especially in the Southern states, that the sitting African American President is inferior to a white American. There has been no push to ostracize Fischer for his blatant racism, and no pushback at the level Paula Deen faced over the past few days even though there is little difference between the two bigots’ racist comments, and it is a recurring problem that proves a certain acceptance of racial bigotry in America.
Last week it was revealed that two Republican legislators’ sons made extremely vile racist remarks on social media, and except for what an African American activist called Senator Jeff Flake’s “half-assed” apology, the issue has gone the way of most racial hate-speech; under cover of “insensitivity” and a half-hearted “disappointment in my teenage son’s words.” It is doubtless that after two generations of Flake’s family roots in slavery, Flake’s teenage son was parroting what he learned from his family. The other Republican whose son made racist remarks, Congressman Joe Heck, refused to answer questions whether he considered the President legitimate and won the support of birther Orly Taitz that is typical of an alarming number of Republicans. Remember, Willard Romney embraced the support of birther Donald Trump and never condemned his persistent contention that the President was not born in America, or successfully graduated from college without assistance from “affirmative action.” In fact, Republicans and their surrogates have made no attempts to assuage the idea that President Obama is not a real American, including recent comments by former Bush officials questioning whether Obama supports Islamic terrorists or America despite his record of killing terrorists.
It has been fifty years since the Civil Rights movement, and still, the racial animus in this country is stunning and in no small part due to Republicans pandering to the racist segment of the population. It is no coincidence that the Republican and ALEC’s push to restrict voting rights specifically targets African Americans, or that in Republican-controlled states minority communities are seeing their children’s educations quashed to prevent them from having the same opportunity to succeed as their white counterparts. The Supreme Court is due to rule on two cases that will specifically impact African Americans when they hand down a decision this week on affirmative action and voting rights in Southern states that were brought to the court courtesy of conservatives pushing to return to blatant discriminatory policies targeting African Americans. Republicans argue that there is no race-based discrimination in America, and yet they have pandered, and promoted, the idea that this President is “un-American” that in conservative-speak is African Americans are inherently not American.
Comedian Bill Maher criticized the outrage at Paula Deen’s racism and asked “why do people always have to go away for saying a bad word,” and if Deen had used an obscenity he would have a valid point, but she did not just curse, she exuded white supremacy as bad as Bryan Fischer asserting Democrats were sending the President to “the back of the bus because the front of the bus was reserved for a white woman.” The Republican Party has no dearth of racist pundits doing the heavy lifting promoting racism against not only President Obama, but all African Americans in the nation, as evidenced by the rush to defend George Zimmerman for stalking and murdering Trayvon Martin, or conservative leaders like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck stoking hatred of the President and “his people.” Why is outrage reserved for the likes of Paula Deen, when Willard Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, and Yahoo news’ reporter are just as guilty of promoting blatant racism it is so easy to slough off as “insensitivity” and dismissed with a mea culpa of questionable sincerity?
There is limited outrage because after four years of conservatives and Republican surrogates’ preaching, propagandizing, and inciting suspicion of African Americans as a real Americans, much less a legitimate President, in many Americans’ minds means the suspicions are legitimate. What a sad, tragic commentary that in 2013 in the United States of America, there is a political movement that has reignited racial animus that appeared to be waning, and they have had a measure of success because between calls and threats of a race war, and ease at which public figures express racial bigotry, it appears that the idea of embracing all Americans, regardless of their race, has likely not progressed much beyond the 1960s. It is telling that to prove they are serious, Republicans called on the conservative Supreme Court to return America to the pre-Civil Rights era and racial discrimination most Americans thought was finally over.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.