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.”
But now there is really no other place to go to understand the visceral opposition to this president.
Policies that have been long-standing pillars of the GOP legislative agenda in Congress that have been co-opted by this president are summarily rejected by those same Republicans.
The irrational talk of the president being a Muslim has persisted in the face of his avowed Christianity. Some even accuse him of being a terrorist sympathizer.
The incessant wrangling that the documents recording his birth in a hospital in Hawaii were forged and that no one remembers him in high school has continued in the face of official documentation.
Now, his academic records at Occidental College, Columbia University and Harvard Law School are said by his far right distracters to be questionable.
Take back our country. That is the cry of the far right wing.
My question is, take it back from whom? From the nearly 70 million voters who elected Barack Obama president?
No, the answer has more to do with the color of our President’s skin than any of his middle-of-the-road policies and, as a result of these facts I have one thing to say to those cowardly individuals and groups who peddle hate and deception in our country, “There you go again!”