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A Different Type of President

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The myth of a post-racial America dies quickly as opponents of the president use innuendo and unfounded allegations to damage the nation’s first non-white Chief Executive.

Why is there so much talk about who Barack Obama really is? When has an American president in modern times ever had to defend his citizenship, loyalty to the country and his religious affiliation? At what point in the left’s criticism of George W. Bush did anyone ever question whether he actually attended Yale and Harvard and how he was accepted to those prestigious institutions or ask to see his transcripts?

Why wasn’t ‘W’ or Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan or Jimmy Carter ever asked to publically prove he was born in the USA?

Why are politicians, some media outlets and a certain segment of our population so quick to abandon tried and true policies that have been the followed in our country for over 50-years at a drop of a hat? Why have established national policies suddenly been labeled Socialist?

Why has the truth taken a back seat to political rhetoric and propaganda in our country?

We cannot explain these phenomena away by insisting it is politics as usual because it isn’t. During the bleak days of Watergate, our nation’s ominous mood during the Carter years or, the shadowy governance of the Reagan White House the American people respected the office of the president and wished our president well. Although we may have disagreed with his policies we never questioned his loyalty to our country or, his citizenship.

There was indeed political one-upmanship, there was plenty of harsh rhetoric and each political party constantly sought an advantage over on another. However what we are witnessing today if different than anything I have seen. 

It began during the general election campaign in 2008 as his political opponents sought to depict Senator Barack Obama as an outsider and “exotic.”

Obama was literally forced to run away from his Chicago Church home because his pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, a decorated war hero dared to criticize the country he served in wartime. Then about one-month prior to the election he was accused of “palling around with terrorists” because of an old association with Bill Ayers, one of the founders of the group the Weather Underground. Both were efforts to depict Obama as unacceptable to American voters.

Those attacks were frontal but at the same time there was a relatively clandestine campaign on the Internet and on talk radio that was much more insidious. In the dark bowels of the right wing chatter class Obama was being denounced as a Muslim, a Communist, and there was talk that he wasn’t even an American citizen.

Through the years there have been attacks on our politicians but none more coordinated than the attacks against the first non-white president. The signs have been present from the beginning and after his Inauguration the drum beat constantly grew louder and louder culminating in the formation of the TEA Party when thousands of mostly white Americans, disgusted with the policies of the Obama Administration declared they were going to, “Take OUR country BACK!”

In the face of these weird and unfounded challenges the president and the members of his Administration have decided the issue of race as it pertains to the irrational opposition to Obama should not be discussed publicly. The fact is “playing the race card” has been effectively demonized by white people and the mass media since the OJ Simpson murder trial in 1996. Since that time white society was given an instrument to defray the talk of racism in most all circumstances. When African Americans or any other racial or ethnic minority mentions race now there is a collective sigh by our society and the murmur of Ronald Reagan’s 1980 comment to President Jimmy Carter, “There you go again.”

About Ronald W Weathersby

  • Clavos

    and you’re not brown…

    EXACTLY!! I’m not, and neither are nearly half of all Mexicans; Almost NO Argentines, Chileans, Colombians. etc. are brown.

    The ONLY commonality we have is the freaking LANGUAGE!! THAT”S IT!!! But your imperious (and imperial) government insists on treating us all as some sort of homogenous spic group.

    Tell Chris Rose you’re gonna refer to him as an American from now on because he speaks English and see what kind of reaction you get.

  • Clavos

    there’s also all the african blood mixed into what is known as “hispanic.”

    Actually, with the exception of Brasil, and the two Spanish-speaking Caribbean nations, (well, two nations and one territory) there’s almost no black blood in South America, Central America or Mexico, because it wasn’t necessary to import blacks; there were plenty of indigenous people to enslave.

  • zingzing

    clavos, i’m well aware of the diversity amongst the “hispanic or latino” grouping. calling it a “race” is kinda silly, and i think i’ve made it clear that racial categories seem rather strange on the whole to me. (not that i think we’re all the same, but we’re only barely different in the larger scheme.)

    but i think that we can agree, given the evidence at hand, that the us gov’t does agree that it’s not a monolithic group, which is what i thought was what you were trying to posit earlier. i dunno if you were or not at this point, but given what you initially wrote, i’m sure you could see how i would come to that conclusion.

    that they are classed as such (solely because of their language, you say,) should only give you as much displeasure as the fact that germans and british people and russians are considered to be the same due to the color of their skin. it’s all silly.

    and the visual evidence of that should make it clear to most americans that all “hispanics or latinos” are not the same, unless you consider them to be blind.

  • zingzing

    “Actually, with the exception of Brasil, and the two Spanish-speaking Caribbean nations, (well, two nations and one territory)…”

    well, that’s a big exception, and one that plays heavy around nyc. many students that i see, if i had to make a snap judgment of their race, i’d say “black.” but many of those put down “hispanic.” and their last names are generally names i’d think of as hispanic.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/irene-athena/ Irene Athena

    Thanks for you input Cindy. Troll, I just am not sure what I am going to do, I don’t know what is going on here.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/irene-athena/ Irene Athena

    Clavos, are you on a regular schedule of being the Comments editor? I think I’d like to schedule my visits to BC during those times that you are comment editor.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    78 -

    Irene,

    I actually missed that comment. My only response was to that sentence fragment where Clav quoted you.

    I haven’t really read this whole thread. (sorry for the confuzzilation) I will be sure to do so tomorrow.

    I am really unhappy about all this banning. WTF???? Why is Ruvy banned?

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/irene-athena/ Irene Athena

    And this is a song for Kurz and company, whereever they are, about blogcritics, where I have so many happy memories, stored somewhere in the ether.

    You might like this one, too, Ruvy.

    Blogcritics then and now.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/irene-athena/ Irene Athena

    I don’t know Cindy. It used to be such a great place to talk. Well, I gotta go, too.
    Will catch up on these threads ere long.

    Yeah, I’d like your input on all of it. I don’t mind being criticized and argued with, because that’s what conversation–well, some of it–is about. Learning and changing.

    Cindy, how is your husband?

  • zingzing

    actually, clavos, having given it some thought, i do see your point. most other races can distinguish themselves within that race through ethnicity. but the “latino or hispanic” quote unquote “race” is not really anything of the sort. the gov’t does see the distinctions within that category, as i’ve said, but it still does lump them all together in some fashion.

    i don’t know if i’d really get that upset about it (what’s wrong with argentinians?), but i do see the idea you were after.

    it is a lackadaisical grouping of people beyond what the grouping of people into “white” or “black” is. i guess it must be useful on some level for it to exist, although i’m struggling to figure out why that is.

    so you were right, in your way, and i was wrong. but i’ll still stand by the fact that the gov’t doesn’t lump them all together as a monolithic group, although it does decide to group them together for one reason or another.

    i guess it’s just geography, which you could equally say is the fact about “asians.”

    whitey simplifies other, i guess.

  • zingzing

    irene! i love the beach boys. check this one out. the weirdest, saddest, most beautiful song.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    Actually, with the exception of Brasil, and the two Spanish-speaking Caribbean nations [...] there’s almost no black blood in South America, Central America or Mexico

    Not even close to being true.

    There are sizeable black communities in Mexico, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Panama, Belize, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia and Peru.

    This is obvious if you look at the soccer teams these countries field at the World Cup.

    You of all people, Clav, ought to be aware of this.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/irene-athena/ Irene Athena

    It’s like music therapy for me right now. I will listen to one more song (thankyou, ZingZing), then I will go.

  • zingzing

    i think the one i linked it one of the beach boys’ best songs, so i hope you enjoy it, irene. van dyke parks and brian wilson is like two gods making a baby. and then killing it, i guess. but only half doing so.

  • Cannonshop

    #75 Que?

  • Cannonshop

    Proposition: Race Baiters tend to be useless people…AS INDIVIDUALS.
    Statement in favour:
    This is America, your intrinsic value is not determined by who your parents were, or your ancestry. It’s determined by what you DO-that’s the thing that decides if there is anyone who will mourn at your funeral, or wish there was another YOU available when you’ve gone.

    There is no value to your skin colour, or your ancestry, the trials of those long dead don’t validate your personal existence, nor do they validate your potential reproductive existence. Someone is white, great, it means their daddy could find the hole, and mom didn’t get an Abortion. that’s it. Maybe the rubber broke, maybe she forgot her pills, it doesn’t matter. Superiority is not due to race, it is due to action. Skinheads and Black Panthers alike tend to display themselves as inferior examples of humanity, as do Klansmen and La Rasa Activists.

    Okay, Zing, demolish my argument.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    In Spain they use the word Hispanohablante (Spanish speaking) and I am delighted to be a junior, not very skilled member of that group.

    Learning Spanish has been a real pleasure in many different ways. Not only getting to know my neighbours and understand more of the wider community but also a very different way of thinking that is far more experience based than process based, which is a characteristic of English.

    More surprisingly, it has also deepened my understanding of and feeling for English itself, which we are told is a Germanic language but, having studied German at school, I find far more in common between English and Spanish – both linguistically and culturally – than between English and German.

    I am extremely pleased to have learned some of this great language and culture, one of the world’s three most widely used languages (the others being English and Mandarin) and the increased sense of connection with and understanding of many more people all over the world it has given me.

  • STM

    Geez, they speak bloody fast, though Rosey … do you have to ask ‘em to slow down a bit so you can catch up?

    It comes out at a million miles an hour with all the words running into each other. It seems like there’s no discernable gap.

  • STM

    Clav, don’t the Argentinians have a lot of Italian words? It was one of their largest migrant groups way back.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    Not been to any of the countries south of the US yet but they sure do speak fast in Spain.

    I’ve had to ask people to slow down and speak more slowly hundreds of times, which most people are really good about.

    It does get a bit easier as you get more experience but even now I sometimes get completely lost.

    They also have this weird way of all talking at once and I have no idea if they are actually listening to each other or not.

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    My favorite race story…

    We were living in AZ. One of my neighbors (Arkansas boy he was) asked me what I would do if one of my daughters dated outside her race. I told him I didn’t know.

    I called my cousin Shelley. Shelley is a black guy who married my cousin Judy about 20 years ago. Judy’s a few years younger than me, we grew up together in Jersey. I was one of the few east coast Marsh’s invited to the wedding. Believe it or not, some of my relatives consider me to be pretty open minded about some things.

    Shelley’s my buddy. When I lived out there, we played golf together pretty much every week. He was my realtor too. I bought my house from some Tennesseans and you shoulda heard what they said when one of their neighbors told them that my realtor was my cousin!

    So, anyway, I called Shelley and told him what my neighbor had asked me…Shelley said, “Outside their race? You mean like a dog or a chicken or horse or something?”

    Honestly, until Shelley had put it to me that way, I had never even considered us all as THE HUMAN RACE.

    That may be why I come here. Maybe, one day, one of you liberals will say something to open my eyes. It’s happened before, it can happen again. But you gotta get a little better at ‘splainin’ yourselves!

  • Clavos

    @ #112 True, Doc, I don’t watch soccer (or any other sport), but this much I DO know, there is NOT a “sizeable black community in Mexico,” and what blacks live there now, are of VERY recent vintage — when I was a kid, I never saw so much as ONE black person, and I literally traveled the entire country — city, town, village and field — with my father over the years we lived there. Those black soccer players are likely from elsewhere, methinks.

    In fact, when we moved to the US in my teen years, one of the aspects of this country I found VERY different from home was all the black people (another, which was incomprehensible and disturbing to me, was the attitudes about them that were expressed to me by the whites).

    As for the rest of those countries you mention: I spent 30 years (until very recently) working in Latin American aviation and traveling extensively throughout the region, and the only country I encountered with a sizable Black population was Brasil. True, there are Black people in many LatAm countries now, but few (if any) are native born — they are immigrants for the most part.

    That said, I’ll give you Belize, which I don’t consider to be Latin American, despite its location.

  • Clavos

    More surprisingly, it has also deepened my understanding of and feeling for English itself, which we are told is a Germanic language but, having studied German at school, I find far more in common between English and Spanish – both linguistically and culturally – than between English and German.

    Interesting. In Mexico, my teachers taught me that English, along with Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, French and maybe one or two others, is primarily a Romance language with Teutonic mixed in.

    In any case, you’re absolutley right about the similarities. I was lucky that my parents, who were inveterate classicists, insisted I take four years of Latin when I was a kid (though I hated it at the time). As a result of that, and Spanish being my birth language, I too see the similarities very distinctly, and am more inclined to believe English is more Romance than Teutonic.

    Interesting point about Spanish being experience based vs English is process based. Hadn’t ever had that pointed out to me before, but I agree with you.

  • Clavos

    Stan,

    Yes, Argentina has a VERY strong Italian flavor — to the point that in my experience at least, there are more Argentines with Italian surnames than Spanish ones. The Boca district of Buenos Aires is the “seat” of Argentine Italian culture and is a very interesting place to visit.

    There is also a significant British influence there, and at one time, (maybe still, but I don’t know for sure), Buenos Aires was the home of what I was told was the only Harrod’s store outside the UK.

    Buenos Aires, IMO, is the most cosmopolitan city in LatAm, due in large part to the “melting pot” aspect of the Argentine population.

  • Clavos

    Chris #120:

    They DO speak fairly rapidly, at least in comparison to how we speak Spanish in Mexico. When my family left Mexico, we moved to Cuba (only briefly in the end; it was 1958, months before Fidel’s revolution would triumph, and my father caught on very quickly to what that would mean, so we moved on after only a few weeks there), we had a terrible time at first understanding the Cubans’ version of Spanish. Puerto Rican Spanish is very similar to the Cuban version (though both deny it), but the Dominicans are easier to understand, at least to my ear.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    @ #122:

    No, Clav, you’re wrong (or Wikipedia is, and the linked article has a lot of citations).

    Although in a lot of Latin countries the black populations tend to keep to themselves (which is likely why you haven’t encountered them), they are there, they aren’t recent immigrants, and they are for the most part descended from slaves.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    In Mexico, my teachers taught me that English, along with Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, French and maybe one or two others, is primarily a Romance language with Teutonic mixed in.

    English is the iconoclast of languages. It is basically Germanic, but it’s borrowed from and been influenced by so many other tongues over the centuries that it runs according to its own rules, and nobody’s even quite sure what those are.

    In fact, think of pretty much any grammar, pronunciation or spelling rule you were taught in school, and you can probably come up quite quickly with some valid instances where that rule is broken.

    For example: I before E except after C…

  • Clavos

    From your Wikipedia article:

    Approximately 5% of the Latin American population self-identify, or are classified by census takers, as being primarily of black ancestry.

    5%.

    And Mexico (my primary reference point) weighs in at less than 1%, mostly in Veracruz, which though located on the Gulf of Mexico, is to all intents and purposes a Caribbean port.

    Also from Wiki:

    Most of the slaves were sent to Brazil, and the Caribbean, but lesser numbers went to Colombia and Venezuela. Countries with significant black, mulatto, or zambo populations today include Brazil (86 million), Colombia (10 million), Haiti (8.7 million), Dominican Republic (up to 8.1 million), Cuba (up to 4 million), and Puerto Rico (20% to 46%).

    I mentioned all of these except for Colombia (my bad, but article also says estimates of their Black population “range from 4.4 million to 10.5 million”)

    They are a Caribbean nation, however, and I did miss that one. Haiti is not “Latin American,” I don’t care what Wiki says.

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    Yeah, if english wasn’t so screwed up, babelfish would work a lot better!

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    5%.

    Counts as a significant minority by most statistical measures, Clav, and is a far cry from your original claim of there being scarcely any black blood in LatAm outside Brazil, Cuba and Hispaniola, and that what there is isn’t from African slave ancestry.

    That figure is also skewed because two of the most populous South American countries, Argentina and Chile, have only tiny black minorities.

    I mentioned all of these except for Colombia

    Yes, but you missed the country-by-country breakdowns in the Wiki article which give accounts of the origins of the black populations in each country. Some of those even link to more detailed articles about that country’s black minority.

    You can admit you were wrong, you know, Clav. Unlike some BC Politics denizens, I know you have the grace to do it! :-)

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    Andy, I quite often have to use Babelfish or Google Translate to decipher notes written in Spanish by my clients, and the results are usually amusing, especially since most of ‘em can’t spell.

    In my younger days I did quite a bit of original writing in French and German, and while it’s possible to have some fun with those languages, the grammar rules are still strict.

    English is the only language I know of in which you can write something that breaks away from normal grammar, syntax and word order and still have it make sense.

  • zingzing

    cannonshop: “Okay, Zing, demolish my argument.”

    why? no idea why you bothered to say that, or address it to me.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Friends have told me that Colombians are a bit snobbish about language, and that they consider Argentine Spanish to be a vulgar cowboy dialect.

  • Clavos

    Counts as a significant minority by most statistical measures, Clav…

    True enough when speaking of one political entity, Doc, but that 5% includes the 86 million (including mixed race) in Brasil, as well as the substantial Black populations of Haiti (95+%) (I know I said Haiti’s not Latin American, but Wiki included it in the group, so presumably its population is part of their 5% guesstimate), Cuba, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, etc., leaving the rest of the LatAm countries with Black populations in the hundreds of thousands and four with zero Blacks, n’est-ce pas?

    Oh, and I did leave out Venezuela, which of course is also a Caribbean country as well as Latin American, in my original remarks; its Black population numbers in the millions, also counted in that 5%.

    I think my claim of scarcely any Black blood outside these countries is not far off the mark, most have Black populations so small as to be invisible.

    And finally, there’s this to consider as well: (Wiki) The accuracy of statistics reporting on Afro-Latin Americans has been questioned, especially where they are derived from census reports in which the subjects choose their own designation, because in all countries the concept of black ancestry is viewed with differing attitudes.

    Thanks for your “grace” observation, and when I’m completely wrong, I tend to acknowledge it, but in this instance, my proportion of error I would estimate is only 5%. :-)

  • Clavos

    Handy #133:

    That’s true, but they have a right; most experts in the language acknowledge they speak the best (as in faithful to the mother tongue) dialect outside of Spain.

  • Clavos

    Oh, and almost all of us dislike the Argentines because they are very full of themselves — more so than any other LatAm culture. Illustrative joke:

    Q: Why do Argentines run outside when there’s a thunderstorm?

    A: Because they think God is applauding them.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Sounds a bit like an inside-out Polish joke.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    I have American friends who travel frequently, and they say the Argentines are the warmest people they have ever met. They are not comparing them to other Latino people so much as Europeans, Asians, and even the famously gregarious Australians, who they thought a bit stand-offish, friendly on the surface but not interested in being friends.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    Tomorrow, Irene…I will read. Long day today. :-)

    Hubby is hanging in there. Has to relearn the use of his left side. He isn’t walking yet. But he is making progress in very mall increments. I expect he will regain 90% of the use of his left arm and leg. For now, every day is a new day. We have PT, OT, Speech, Nurses and aids at home.

    I am really, really grateful that, in this world, despite the way people have created it, I do not have to go work elsewhere and I can take care of him. If I had to go out to work, he would be in a nursing home (or in our case, we would more likely be on the evening news featuring the wife who refused to leave the foreclosed house). I am exhausted, but it is a lovely exhaustion and I have a lot of help. I am utterly grateful every day for what I/we have.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    Handy, I’ll second that. I love Argentina, and her people are very welcoming (even when they find out you’re a Brit) – although they’ve got nothing on Aussies, Americans, Irish, Thais and Cambodians on that score.

    The one big problem with Argentinians is that they do tend to have wandering hands.

  • zingzing

    i recently went to the argentina v us friendly in new jersey. messi is a monster. he was wearing little orange boots so everyone could identify him, and he made 4 or 5 americans look like fools several times. the man can just move.

    the first half was a travesty, with argentina messing with us like we were nothing. the second half, however, was much better, and we came away with a draw, even if we didn’t deserve it. either way, messi is a ridiculously good player… a genius, i might say.

    one of the best of all time, maybe simply the best, and i’m glad to say i got to see him in person. little fuck.

  • zingzing

    also, the “hand of god” play sucks, but the “goal of the century” kinda makes it suck less. he was a smart footballer, if not the greatest human being. argentina’s national team looked great at the last world cup until they suddenly didn’t, but that’s what germany does best. i would not want to face germany there. no more than i’d want to face ghana again. fucking ghana. what have we what have we what have we done to deserve this?

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    Yeah, those few minutes kind of sum up Maradona. One of the most blatant bits of cheating ever seen on a football field (although it overshadows the fact that the way he ripped apart the England defence to create the scoring opportunity in the first place was pure genius) followed three minutes later by one of the greatest goals ever scored.

    What a player.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    And Ghana may have squeezed America’s nutsacks until they cried, but speaking of great players: how about Asamoah Gyan in that quarter-final against Uruguay? Misses a penalty in the last minute of extra time that would have taken Ghana into the semis… then seconds later steps up to take the first kick of the shootout – and scores.

    Balls of steel.

    I could almost forgive him for signing for [spit! spit!] Sunderland.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/irene-athena/ Irene Athena

    Cindy–I’m glad I ran into you again. Listen, don’t bother going over the comments. Keep on being the loving support to your beloved that you are.

    I might run into you over the summer, Cindy.
    ZingZing, have an Endless One. :) Bye for now.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/irene-athena/ Irene Athena

    Eric H. Holder, Jr., the Attorney General said this about the US a couple of years ago:

    “Though race-related issues continue to occupy a significant portion of our political discussion and though there remain many unresolved racial issues in this nation, we average Americans simply do not talk enough with each other about race.”

    In conversations like these, where the goal is to reduce the animosity between adversaries, both parties are invited to talk about what bothers them, the things that stand as a barrier to harmony.

    I have not yet seen the venue in which a conversation like that is likely to happen, where both parties are free to speak their minds honestly, to move away from being what Eric Holder calls “cowards…in things racial.”

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/irene-athena/ Irene Athena

    I’m tired of talking about race in venues that don’t encourage both parties to engage in that kind of discussion.

    A key role in conversations like these is a mediator, a facilitator, who is interested in the goal of reduction of animosity.

    Debates don’t seem to fit the bill.

    Well, that’s enough inarticulate rambling from me, I guess.

  • zingzing

    good point, irene. although i guess when people get stupidly offended over someone’s skin color, those of that skin color might get equally offended and maybe stupidly so.