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Was America Ready For A Black President?
Former President Jimmy Carter is being blasted by Republicans for stating that much of the opposition to the policies of President Barack Obama is based on race rather than policy. While certainly not everybody who opposes the policies of President Obama can be labeled as a racist in any way, there are undertones of racism in the message objecting to Obama's health care plans and other policies. Not every Conservative American is a racist, but most racists in America today consider themselves a Conservative.
More importantly, there are those that are using the undertones of racism that still exist to stop the President from doing anything to help the Country. These same forces have stopped at nothing to create the perception that Obama is an illigitimate President. While it is true that nobody uses the traditional racist language, the meaning is just the same.
The Healthcare Debate
The most controversial issue facing President Obama today is Health care. The President promised during the campaign that he would fundamentally change Health care in America as it is both a moral issue and an economic issue. Now that he is President, Obama is doing exactly what he promised to do.
Yet, conservatives in this Country have come out in thousands to protest the Obama Health care initiative. They have shown up at town halls and screamed at their local members. They have taken to the streets in thousands following Glen Beck to Washington. They have called Obama a Socialist.
Is this all because these Americans care about Health care? For some, health care is an important issue. But as explained by Tea Party leader, Mark Williams on CNN, the opposition to the health care debate is much bigger than health care. Williams stated that the Health care opposition is rooted in the belief that President Obama, who he calls a "an Indonesian Muslim turned welfare thug turned anointed " must be stopped.
Stopped from what one may ask? He doesn't really say except for the standard tirade about Socialism. But the normal right wing pundits help put some clarity on the issue. From Glenn Beck, who led the March on Washington, singing in "Blackface" on his show to Rush Limbaugh repeatedly referring to the President as an "halfrican American" and "Barack the Magic Negro." While not blatantly racist, the undertones are there and these phrases pacify and rile up a large group of people in America who still hold prejudice views. And it is these undertones that have taken over the Healthcare debate instead of policy. And the Republicans are allowed to sit back, offer nothing, and applaud the noble Americans taking to the streets.
Obama Is Not American?
Since it appeared that President Obama was actually a threat to be the next President, the right continually tried to portray the President as "un-american" or not an American at all. The first attack were the Birthers.
The Birthers are a group of conservatives that have continually charged that Barack Obama is not an American citizen. The group alleges that Obama was not really born in Hawaii as he and the State of Hawaii claim, but rather was born in Kenya. Despite the best efforts of the State of Hawaii to confirm his birth, the Birthers remain. The claim: Obama is not an American.
Then there are those who continually call Obama a Socialist. This began with Obama's statement to Joe The Plumber about redistribution of wealth. Since that fateful day in Ohio, the Right has continued to claim that Obama is a Socialist who will turn this Country into a Socialist state. What the Right forgets, and the left simply does not know is that Obama is not the first African American leader to be pinned as a Socialist.
Throughout the late 20th century, African American leaders throughout the world have been burdened with the term Socialist. J. Edgar Hoover often used the term Socialist to describe other un-americans such as A. Philip Randolph and Martin Luther King, Jr. The term Socialist was also used to describe Nelson Mandela, Jesse Jackson and other African American leaders around the world. However, what most at the tea party members do not know is that J. Edgar Hoover and others use the term "Socialist" as a code word for other derogatory terms about African Americans. That's right, in many circles that remain today, the term Socialist is Code Word for Nigger. The Claim: Obama is un-American at the least, or worse. Perhaps parents should be careful about having their children carry signs in protest.
Then there is the school speech. The President of the United States wanted to talk to school children about working hard and staying in school. For so many conservatives across the Country, this was akin to a child molester wanting to invite kids over to his house for cookies. They pulled their kids out of school. They protested school boards. All because the President wanted to tell kids to stay in school and work hard. Funny note, one school district in Texas refused to show the speech at the behest of many parents then the next week bussed the children to Texas Stadium to hear former President Bush speak. No racial undertones there.
The reaction to President Obama's school speech hearkened back to the days when African Americans were first let into schools with white children. In Little Rock, when black children were let into the schools, parents pulled their children out of school, protested and put pressure on local school boards. They simply did not want their children to be talked to by a black man, or a socialist. The Claim: Obama cannot be near my children.
Was America Ready?
When Barack Obama was elected by a large majority to be the next President of the United States, it appeared that the United States had taken a huge step forward in terms of race. But only months after President Obama was inaugurated, the question must be asked again: Was America ready for a Black President? The right certainly doesn't seem ready. The extremes have gone to great lengths to make President Obama seem illegitimate. They question his citizenship, religion and loyalty. Moderate Republicans refuse to give him the same respect any other President receives. They scream at him and call him names during a speech in front of Congress. More importantly, the moderates refuse to denounce the more extreme elements in their party. And the Republican spin machine continues to feed fuel to the fire by continually playing on conservative fear and hatred, and yes racist undertones.
The Republican Agenda appears to be to to breed intolerance to satisfy their base in order to derail the Obama Presidency. The Conservative reaction to Obama, Sotomayor and other minorities now in power has been one of contempt and hate. What many at the town hall meetings are objecting to is the picture of a Black President living in the White House. But they cannot put it in those terms. So instead, they rail against a Healthcare plan they don't understand but many of them need. They call him a Socialist without knowing what it really means. And they refuse to call him the President.
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