There has been some press in the last few days (actually, in the last few years) about the role of racism in political criticism. I want to look at the record, in this non-scientific review, and see whether there’s anything to that press.
This is Presidential Candidate Obama’s view from the campaign trail:
They’re going to try to make you afraid. They’re going to try to make you afraid of me. They’re gonna say, “You know what, he’s young and inexperienced and he’s got a funny name. And did I mention he’s black?”
Here’s President Jimmy Carter’s view, from a 2009 interview:
I think an overwhelming portion of the intentionally demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man. That he’s African-American.
Here’s Keith Olbermann, from his 28 January 2010 “Worst Persons” segment of his Countdown show, describing various commentators that had remarked on President Obama’s State of the Union speech:
…our winners, these guys, assessing not the speech but the president himself. Eric Erickson, “cocky”…. John Hood, “flippant” and “arrogant.” Glenn Beck, “like a punk.”
…the racist white guys revert to euphemisms and code words and among the code words that they think they’re getting away with are “cocky, flippant, punk, and especially arrogant.”
There’s this from an August 2011 interview with Congresswoman Frederica Wilson (D, FL)”
TAMRON HALL: Let me get your response to David Axelrod saying the jobless issue, the unemployment issue, is not exclusive to one community.
FREDERICA WILSON: Well, it sounds good, but it is exclusive to one community…. Well, when you look at African-American males, 40% of them are unemployed, those under 30 years of age. And I understand exactly that the entire nation must be involved in this recovery, but the black community is experiencing a great recession. That’s what we’re experiencing. And all of the growth in the past 30 years, we see it slipping away. From home ownership, the middle class: it’s slipping away from our hands. And it has a lot to do with a lot of issues: racism….
And this from our Attorney General, Eric Holder, in an interview from last weekend:
Mr. Holder said he believed that a few [of his “more extreme” critics] were motivated by animus against Mr. Obama and that he served as a stand-in for him. “This is a way to get at the president because of the way I can be identified with him,” he said, “both due to the nature of our relationship and, you know, the fact that we’re both African-American.”
To which, Congressman Joe (R, IL) Walsh points out that Obama’s continued silence in the face of Holder’s…remarks…demonstrates that the president shares in the blame for the attorney general’s choice of words.
What’s interesting is who it is that’s hollering “racism” and what the hollerers are doing about the actual issues before them. Besides hollering “racism,” I mean.