Monday, November 16, 2009

Obama haters are white (and other observations that you may have been able to guess yourselves)

This just in from The Guardian/UK: "Hate Obama? You may not be racist but you will be white." The author, Michael Tomasky, does a fairly thoughtful job of explaining why discussions of racism haven't been more prevalent in the anti-Obama rhetoric that coheres around President Barack Obama. Although truthfully, I don't think he goes far enough in uttering the magic phrase "white privilege" or more forcefully "white supremacy" when it comes to thinking about how a 98% white crowd could be implicated in structural racism without ever uttering the dreaded "N" word (at least not publicly for television/Fox News consumption).

Which, of course isn't to say that everyone who hates Obama really is white (I think the title of the article is meant to be both a touch hyperbolic and tongue-in-cheek) but I do think that what Tomasky is trying to get at in his piece is the mob mentality as well as the abysmal track record of the Republican party on civil rights (or at least understanding a true history and theory behind civil rights and structural racism).

Tomorrow maybe I'll tackle other things that seem self-evident, like the pervasive sexism that underlies so much of our society which causes us all to forget that our government (let alone the private sector of our nation) in no way reflects the actual gender demographics of our country.


Eurasian Sensation said...

There is some really clever propaganda work going on from the right wing on this. By constantly using terms like "socialism" and "communism", the likes of Beck and Hannity have created a non-racial code word that encapsulates everything people fear about Obama. For the folks who don't really understand what "socialism" actually is, it becomes a replacement for "foreigner", "Muslim", "nigger" and every other term they think but don't say.

Of course, when accused of racism, it allows them to deny it and play the victim card themselves ("Everytime someone criticises Obama, the Left call it racism", etc)

Biracial Christian Girl said...

i'm biracial like Obama and I do not like him either. I do believe he is a socialist/communist, and when all is said and done we will have lost a lot of our American rights and privileges by the time his term is over.

Jennifer said...

Eurasian Sensation,

Thanks for stopping by again--we could devote MANY posts to the rhetoric that the cultural and political right has engaged in and the simplistic notions of what words like "socialist" and "Communist" mean.

In that vein, Biracial Christian girl,

Thank you for stopping by as well--I suppose I'd like to give you a little push back by asking how you define "socialist" and "communist," why you think Obama is a socialist/communist, and how this will result in the loss of "American rights and privileges"--and perhaps to push further, what do you mean by American rights and privileges?

As someone on the left, I have definitely felt like those on the right want to take away rights and privileges from me--the right to marry anyone I want regardless of my sexual orientation, the right to my body--to choose abortion as a safe and legal option should I find myself with an unwanted pregnancy, the privilege of having my privacy protected when I go to the public library by the government not having access into the kinds of books I check out (that last one was infringed upon by the PATRIOT act).

You are, of course, free not to like Obama--and I was being tongue-in-cheek (as was the writer) when I said that many who hate Obama are white--I'm sure, like yourself, there are many mixed-race and other non-white people who hate Obama.

But regardless of the race of those who disagree and dislike Obama, what seems very clear to me, as one who researches and writes about race, is the kid of veiled racism (and in some cases not-so-veiled) leveled against Obama by right-wing pundits and critics, a rhetoric designed to undermine his authority and to get us to mis-understand key political and social terms like "socialism" and "communism" so that we will very simplistically apply these terms to him as a way of maligning him--and the ability to do so, in my opinion, has a lot of traction because he is a non-white specifically black man who is in a position of authority--and that scares the hell out of a lot of people.

GIANTS FAN said...

This is a great site that you have here. I have two sports blogs myself that I hope to be a positive contribution to the sports community. I was wondering if we could do a link exchange so we can help spread some traffic around between us.


Jordankatz88 said...

In 1980, 98 percent of the Republican party who voted for Reagen were white. We'd like to think the one's party affiliation is not determined by the skin color, but rather personal beliefs and political views. Nevertheless, it's not so much that white people hate Obama, but rather members of the GOP do and they happen to be white.

It's naive to think that one day this country will be free of racism when the south still refers to the Civil War as "The War of Northern Aggression." But, reverse racism has emerged do the constanst repression of minorities, thus it doesn't help to make outlandish statements that white people hate Obama. It's not helping anyone nor is it constructive criticism.
The issue is the GOP and there prehistoric and narrow-minded mentality. That's who we need to be focusing our energy on. Word on the street is that they are going to get Colin Powell to run against Obama in 2012. Wow, how creative! Putting one black person up against another to level the score, make it fair so no matter what, your vote is going to a black person. This is just proof how the GOP is willing to do anything in order to get back in office. They thought by putting a woman (Sarah Palin) against a black person against would confuse people. Both would be a first, a white woman or black person in office. Nevertheless, there plan backfired magnificently and now we have Obama in office. Nice try GOP, but you are going to have to do a lot better then that and by better I don't mean putting Colin Powell against Obama to win the election because your "strategies" are just as transparent as your motives.

Jennifer said...

Giants Fan,
Hope you get some traffic to your blog! Good luck with that.

And Jordankatz88,
I do agree that thinking that we'll be free of racism anytime soon seems naive. But perhaps having faith and hoping in something that seems impossible require naivety. I have to admit that while it's unlikely that anyone would ever use the phrase, "War of northern agression" un-ironically around me, there are attitudes about race in some areas of the South that aren't progressive. But then again, we could say the same thing about every other state in the union, including the state I wax romantic, California (where I grew up).

Anyway, I appreciate everyone leaving a comment--thanks for stopping by!