Wednesday, September 16, 2009


The Race Question and President Obama: Getting at Basics

racist and anti Obama image (This is disgusting)
There is a lot of talk these days including a statement that came out yesterday Sept. 15, 2009 from former President Jimmy Carter "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," and other comments in the media that these tea parties and other recent demonstrations against Barack Obama and his health care policies are race based attacks. It is clear that the "Birthers", demonstrators and others who keep repeating that Obama was not born in the United State are spreading racist sentiments. It is clear that protesters who carry signs that are renderings and/or distorted images of the President portrayed as the Joker from Batman fame is clearly a racist image of Obama. The media has also focused on these images so often the message comes across as though large numbers are participating in these anti Obama rallies which is not the case. The right wingers expected a million to show up at their Washington DC rally, only 70,000 came according to Washington police estimates. Most major civil rights movements in the past had half a million or up towards a million. I also think that what Jimmy Carter is saying about race and Obama is true. Carter knows the South, knows racism when he sees it, and he is an insightful, intelligent and high minded person.

Obama's Press Secretary Robert Gibbs reported today Sept. 16th that Obama does not think these sentiments are race based. Politically Obama cannot afford to distract the public from his focus on health care policy and he may truly believe other factors are involved in this health care and anti Obama crowd. It is also very hard for the victim of racism to always see the racism clearly for what it is. My take on this anti Obama crowd, I won't call them a movement, is that this type of thinking is ignorance based and there is also the taint of anti foreigner attitudes plus racial stereotyping attached to their idiotic thinking. It has been reported that there have been signs among this "talented" group saying" Foreigner Go Home" or "Go back to Africa". The fact most Republicans will not stand up and say outloud "This is wrong" show me what I have thought all along that the Republican Party exploits and has for a very long time exploited racist thinking and attitudes in order to win votes especially from blue collar and Southern whites. You can't turn around without watching someone representing the Republican Party taking a stand against a group comprised of people of color, true they are usually progressive and cutting edge groups that fight racism and are critical of the status quo.

It is true the Republican Party has roots which seem progressive in term of racial issues. The Democrats in the South during the height of the racist attacks on Black people often could be connected with organizations i.e. the Klu Klux Klan and the Republicans back in fifties seemed more business minded and wanting peace among the races so they could continue to get money from both races. But things have changed as the voters have changed and the Democrats in the North prevailed and won civil rights victories under the leadership of Lyndon Johnson and other civil rights minded Democrats and movement folks who prevailed upon the Democratic Party to join their cause. There was definitely a racist tone to the era of Ronald Reagan.
The Bushes, all of them, were never in the forefront of civil rights legislation. Bushes always dragged their tails when it came to cutting edge legislation and race. Republican McCain from Arizona even voted against allowing a Martin Luther King holiday in his State long after civil rights legislation had been enacted. The Democratic Party could not exist without help from voters and activists of all races.

It is true that we are going through a period of time when people from all political persuasions are questioning President Obama's decision making. I think many in the public thought he was a kind of new Messiah coming to save them from all kinds of injustice. It was clear Obama was catering to moderates during his campaign tours. He always sounded like someone
who would weigh the pros and cons very carefully and not act too radically about anything much. People compared him to W.
and thought this is a really smart guy, he can do it. There was a kind of reverse racism among liberals I think. These soft
minded and soft hearted types felt that a Black man couldn't possibly fail them. Now that we are still mired in Iraq and building up forces in Afghanistan, the liberals and more to the left types are giving up on Obama. They are not the racist types
Carter and others are pointing to yet race played a definite factor in their high turn out and great organizing efforts to get Obamna elected President. I guess I am one of the broken hearted though I knew better and also felt I was electing a pretty moderate guy but thought at least we would get universal public health care, even if it would not be single payer. I thought we would get the end of "Don't Tell, Don't Ask". And I hoped the country would be finally ready when the courts state by state
stood up for Gay Marriage. I thought Obama would be ready too but alas I was mistaken.

I was actually a Hillary supporter up to the time I saw her strategists including what seemed to be Bill Clinton turning toward the racist path in an attempt to garner a few more votes. The truth be told I think Hillary and Obama have pretty much the same very moderate politics. One thing I know for sure, if I thought Hillary would be doing better now because she is white, it would not change a wit my volition to see Obama in the highest office in the land. He won fair and square and if people want to undermine him based on his vulnerability on race than let them reap unfortunately with the rest of us the evil which they have wrought. Too bad the people who are not acting out of racial animosity have to suffer too.

The truth is many of us are put off by the fact Obama is not standing up for himself or what we think is himself. When the hysterical right cries about death panels and old people being euthanized, Obama should not say he will call these people out, he should do it. As an older person myself I have questions about the fact the cost of the new health care package may be balanced on the backs of medicare recipients, for instance, Obama clearly stated, he wanted to get rid of Senior Advantage, a program that many HMO have that give extra services to those over 65. Obama says his plan to can do the same thing but cheaper. Well, we do have the right to know exactly how that will play out. On the other hand, the need for universal health care with no pre-existing conditions is so imperative, I am willing to give those in Congress who have the will to do it my support. I want everyone to have access to good health care and I am hoping AARP and other old persons groups make sure
the medical care we already have that we like stays the same. It is not racist though to question aspects of the health care package.

The answer to the question Is Race Undermining Obama's Presidency? It will do so if the media doesn't get on the stick and put these issues into a better perspective. Stop acting like the majority are against public health care which they are not. Most people want to be able to keep their health care whether they lose a job or not. They want to keep their health care whether they get sick or not. They want to see a stop of soaring health care costs. It is not just race but also fear mongering that could end the whole movement forward. It is all of the above, exploitation of race, exploitation of immigration issues, and a little bit of concern about what the real facts will be in the long run that is stirring the pot. Let's put the lid on the race and anti foreigner commotion and let the lid be open when it comes to a fair minded discussion of whether Obama is on the right track on health care, the wars we are fighting, and the direction of the economy. Let's also give credit to Obama where credit is due.

Sharon Raphael