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The following is taken from a wonderful post by Ankhesen Mie about the tea baggers, edited down to 500 words by me:

Protesters go spitting and hurling racial slurs and surprise, surprise, we’re told not to pay attention. It’s an “isolated incident”. It doesn’t “mean” anything.

Yeah… and we’ve never heard that one before. As blogger Field Negro writes:

Poor James Clayburn, I saw my man on CNN this evening and he still looked scared. He told Wolf Blitzer that he was having flashbacks to those civil rights days. He said that he looked in the eyes of the tea baggers and saw the same hatred he saw back then. Yeah, that kind of hate just doesn’t happen overnight with the passing of a bill, Jim. No sir, that hate has been there all along. It’s just been hiding under the surface and waiting to come out.

In the meantime, I’m having flashbacks of my own.  Flashbacks to teary, screamy temper tantrums in 2008 – you all remember 2008, don’t you? Remember all the “isolated incidents and comments” back then? All that racist bullshit that wasn’t “really racist” and so we weren’t supposed to really talk about it or even show it on TV in-depth? You recall that “tiny, insignificant minority” of white folks we were supposed to simply laugh at and pretend didn’t really exist? Did you really think those people just vanished off the face of the earth?

And white people, I’m just… you know… I’m… *shakes head*… I’m actually quite proud of some of you.

If I go to Google right now and type in “tea party racist”, I will see a lot of white folks calling the Tea Party out. And they’re not talking that “politically incorrect” or “highly inappropriate” shit – they’re calling it racist and not trying to excuse or defend it in any way. And kids, that’s how you deal with racism. You call it out; you name it accurately and you expose it. You denounce it unequivocally and then you fight back.

These are not children, folks; ignoring their bad behavior won’t make it go away.

So from hereon out, white folks, I don’t want to hear any more, “Well, yeah… but you have to understand…” nonsense. Those are not fighting words. Those are roll-over-and-surrender words. So are “isolated incidents”. And “we’re not all like that” – we’re not talking about all of you. We’re talking about your racists, and we’re talking about all of them. So if you’re thinking strictly KKK, Stormfront, and neo-Nazis, you need to quit bullshittin’ and start accepting the unpleasant reality of things.

The Tea Party has revealed one of the ugliest faces of Average White America for all the world to see.

It has confirmed the often derailed testaments of POC about racism in America. It has confirmed every acrimonious observation from other nations about the so-called “Ugly American”. It has aired Average White America’s dirty laundry, flung wide its closet doors and unleashed all its skeletons.

Read the whole post here.

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I saw this on Jack & Jill Politics. It shows President Obama hugging retiring White House butler James Ramsey on January 25th 2010.

Michelle Obama comments:

Mr. Ramsey side note – he’s worked for the White House for 40 years and was supposed to retire when the Bushes left but wanted to extend working at the White House so that he could serve the Obamas as long as he could. I read last year that several of the scheduled retiring usher staff did the same thing because they’ve been treated so well by the Obamas and really don’t want to retire now….I think stamina may be the only factor for them leaving at this point….I’m sure the pace gets difficult over time. Desiree Rogers said last year in the Washington Post that some older staff had tears in their eyes when she was asking for their input, and they told her that no one ever asked that from them before or asked for their opinion.

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MG_01982

The opposition against President Obama is not like what we saw against Clinton and Bush. It comes from a darker, more dangerous place. It expresses itself in a more troubling form.

People disagreed with Bush and Clinton. They questioned their character and intelligence. The Republicans even tried to bring down Clinton by impeaching him. But through it all they continued to respect the office of the presidency – even if they did not like the man holding that office. That is how Americans have been. Not so with Obama. A line is being crossed.

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That line was crossed when Congressman Joe Wilson said “You lie!” in the middle of speech by the president to the country, openly disrespecting him.

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That line was crossed when Sean Delonas of the New York Post drew a cartoon showing the president being shot dead (as a chimp).

Before Obama no one has doubted the president’s right to be the president, not in living memory.

Bush in 2000 lost the popular vote, winning only through a questionable vote count in a state where his brother was governor.  Yet there was no movement that continued to question his right to hold his office.

Reagan in 1980 won by less than Obama, destroyed the power of the labour unions and pushed through much more extreme policies than Obama’s. Yet you did not hear about people “taking their country back”.

Further, none of these men had their Americanness questioned. None were required to show their hospital birth record because suddenly the one from their state of birth would not do.

The only thing that makes sense of all this is that some have a hard time accepting a black man as president. So they question his right to be president or act towards him like he is not the president.

If so then it is coming from a dark and dangerous place in the American soul, a place of whips and chains and hangings. Dangerous because no one knows how it will end. It could do more than simply take down a president, it could divide the country to a dangerous degree. Already it seems like racism is becoming much more open and naked than it was even six months ago.

Unlike a president’s sex life or bad English, race is one of the few things that can tear the country apart.

lewinskydressThe Republicans hammered Clinton. Even in 1996, two years before Monica Lewinsky and her blue dress, it seemed like Clinton might not make it through another four years. It seemed like sooner or later the Republicans would find something that would stick.

Yet the worse it was ever going to do was to bring down Clinton. It was not going to shape the nature of the country. Its damage would be limited.

If Republican opposition to Obama was based mainly on stuff like ACORN and Tony Rezko, then it would be like what they did to Clinton. But it is not. This is something different.

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Jimmy Carter, a good man who was a bad American president, said this the other day:

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, that he’s African American. … racism still exists and I think it’s bubbled up to the surface, because of a belief among many white people, not just in the South, but around the country, that African Americans are not qualified to lead this great country.

Obama disagrees. His press secretary, Robert Gibbs, said this:

Gibbs on behalf of Obama: The president does not believe that that criticism comes based on the color of his skin. We understand that people have disagreements with some of the decisions that we’ve made and some of the extraordinary actions that had to be undertaken by both this administration and previous administrations to stabilize our financial system, to ensure viability of our domestic auto industry.

Carter is right, though his timing might not be the best. Carter tends to do what he thinks is right, the consequences be damned. So, for example, he pushed for human rights in Iran under the Shah even though it led to the rise of Ayatollah Khomeini. Carter acts morally without thinking ahead.

Obama, on the other hand, goes along to get along. To a sickening degree: He agrees with right-wing talking heads that racism has nothing to do with it. Nothing. It was his policies for saving the banks and the car companies.

He cannot possibly believe that.

Yet, I wonder: Is Carter doing Obama’s bidding? Obama, after all, could never say what Carter said. It needed to be said and said by a white man, one whose opinions would be reported and not be dismissed out of hand.

Obama cannot “cry racism” himself. It would put him in an extremely weak position. And it would not even work: white people have built-in defences against that stuff. It is how they live with themselves.

Yet the racist right is not going to go away. Yesterday it was about his hospital birth record, today it is about health care reform and a sudden, overdone concern for state socialism, tomorrow it will be something else. None of it has the ring of mere policy disagreements. It is too angry and too unreasoned. Because the true issue is not his policy but his race.

The country is at that point in its history where it is liberal enough to elect a black man as president but still too racist for many to accept him as their true president. The nearest comparison I can think of is King James II, a Catholic king of a Protestant England. He was overthrown in the Glorious Revolution of 1688.

Like Reagan and the labour unions, Obama needs to force a showdown with the racist right. That is how Martin Luther King dealt with them. We call it Selma.

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datenight

As busy as the president is he still finds time to take his wife out on a date to be just with her. They went to see the August Wilson play, “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone”. (Lincoln also took his wife to plays, as we know!)

It is also kind of cool to walk out of your house, get on a Marine helicopter and be flown to New York! When he was a boy of ten his mother saw no future for him in Indonesia and had him flown to America. For some reason that just came to my head.

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byron-york

Byron York, who used to write for the  National Review, a right-wing opinion magazine, wrote a post the other day called “The Black-White Divide in Obama’s Popularity”. It starts like this:

On his 100th day in office, Barack Obama enjoys high job approval ratings, no matter what poll you consult. But if a new survey by the New York Times is accurate, the president and some of his policies are significantly less popular with white Americans than with black Americans, and his sky-high ratings among African-Americans make some of his positions appear a bit more popular overall than they actually are.

To which Matthew Yglesias said:

Dave Weigel observes that all Democratic politicians are always much more popular among blacks than among whites, so it’s not clear why York would spin this as a unique attribute of Obama’s. But more to the point, what is York talking about here? How does the fact that much of Obama’s support come from African-Americans mean that he’s not “actually” popular?

Steve Benen puts it more plainly:

For crying out loud, what the hell does that mean, exactly? … The problem, of course, is that damn phrase “than they actually are.” York argues that we can see polls gauging public opinion, but if we want to really understand the popularity of the president’s positions, and not be fooled by “appearances,” then we have to exclude black people.

And Andrew Sullivan adds:

I’m with Benen. What can that last phrase possibly mean, except that African-American opinion does not count as much as everyone else’s? Yglesias and Weigel pile one.

Now it gets even worse:  York replies. First, he does not take the charge of racism seriously:

I suppose if you haven’t been called a racist by the usual suspects on the left, you haven’t been writing for very long.

Next he misses their point while turning the charge of racism against Sullivan:

… Maybe “across-the-board” would have been better than “overall,” but I doubt that would have kept a left-wing activist like Matthew Yglesias, or Andrew Sullivan, who has himself been accused of racism and, quite recently, anti-Semitism, from branding me a racist.

It was not the word “overall” that made him seem racist, it was “actually” – you know, as if blacks are not “actually” Americans but white people are, as if blacks do not count.

This is an example of white gaze, a white way of looking at the world, which sees:

  • People of colour as being at the edges of things.
  • White people as important, as having lives that matter.

And the way he replied to Sullivan and Yglesias is also a common ad-hominem way whites have of answering charges of racism:

  • The “you always cry racism” argument
  • The “you are the racist one” argument

As is completely missing the point. To write for the National Review you have to be good with words and with argument, so I have to assume that York knowingly missed their point.

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Barack Obama on April 7th 2009 greets American troops in Iraq at the end of his overseas trip.

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