Jimmy Carter's Comments? True or not?

Now I have been very hesitant to delve into the comments that former U.S. President Jimmy Carter made recently. If you all haven't heard, President Carter made this statement in an interview with NBC's Brian Williams:

"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," Carter said. "I live in the South, and I've seen the South come a long way, and I've seen the rest of the country that shared the South's attitude toward minority groups at that time, particularly African Americans...And that racism inclination still exists. And I think it's bubbled up to the surface because of the 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. It's an abominable circumstance, and it grieves me and concerns me very deeply."

The reason I have been hesitant is because I normally am very careful when using the "race card." In essence I like to make sure that my motives are very clear and beyond reproach before I accuse people of being racist. In my opinion I believe that there is a level of truth to what Jimmy Carter is saying.

Unlike Carter I don't believe that most of the arguments against Obama's policies are steeped in racist ideology. But like Carter I do see major areas where the arguments have a strong racial overtone. I also believe that many of the arguments that are having the biggest voice and most power tend to be very much from the far conservative population. Furthermore I believe that what makes this argument palatable is that many of the arguments against Obama are not policy based but tend to call into question him as a person.

I will detail three areas where I believe racism played a role in how the opposing side views Obama. The areas are the Birther Movement, the Obama is a Muslim debate and last but not least Talk Radio (namely Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh).

The Birther Movement to me is the most obvious forms of racism I have seen in quite some time. There is a clear group in society, even some journalists and politicians (Lou Dobbs) who honestly believe that President Obama was not born in America. This is even after he issued his birth certificate, after Hawaii's major newspapers released notices of birth stating that Barack Obama was born in Hawaii on the date he was and even after every authentication service has come to the same conclusion. There still is a segment of society that believes he isn't a citizen of the United States. While there are people that said John McCain was not a citizen of the United States during the campaign, the clamor died down quickly. In this case it hasn't been the same. There are still government officials who publicly comment that Obama isn't a citizen. The only reason I can come up with is that there must be of a level of xenophobia and cultural racist thought that allows for this to be permeated in the manner it has been.

The question of Obama's religious affiliation has been a topic of discussion since Obama announced his candidacy for President. Many people have questioned whether he was a Muslim as a result of his father being from Kenya as well as the fact that Obama lived in Indonesia and attended an Indonesian school as a youngster. Aside from these few aspects of his life there is no proof that Obama is a Muslim. In fact he was a member of Jeremiah Wright's church for a few decades. But the larger argument that I make is even if Obama was a Muslim what is wrong with that? I believe that to a segment of society being anti-Muslim is problematic. The argument goes to the xenophobic and cultural issues that Obama has experienced in being the first black president.

The most blatant form of racist thought clearly comes from conservative talk radio. Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh have been some of the most outspoken broadcasters who have blatantly said that Obama either was racist or made comments that could be perceived as racist to him. Glenn Beck has called Obama "racist to white people" and Limbaugh has gone to the extreme of saying that a school bus incident involving a white teenager and some black boys was racist, after the police department found no racial overtones in the incident. He even went so far as saying that segregated buses should become the norm to protect kids. I find the level of racist thought that exists on conservative radio to play a huge role in whether some of the arguments against Obama and his policies have a racist overtone.

While I believe there are many policy angles that should be debated amongst supporters as well as opponents to the President, when we allow comments steeped in racial subtleties to become the way in which those against his policies make their point, then we have a problem. I fully believe that as a country we can and should be bigger than that. But I also feel that those who quickly comment and say that there isn't a racial overtone to the arguments that exist are being blind to the simple reality of it all. While again its not all the arguments, there definitely appears to be enough out there that makes this argument stand on its own feet. Racism to me is not the most obvious things to discuss or even notice sometimes, but when its there it is incumbent on people to call others on it. It is my hope that other prominent members of the political elite, especially other white politicians, speak truth to power. Then and only then will others begin to take the arguments seriously.

Comments

What I think the racism has the most influence over is not the responses by virtue of themselves, but the ways in which people are responding. There is an overabundantly clear lack of respect for the man and for the seat simply due to the man in it. President Obama is responded to in ways that indicate that he somehow does not deserve to have such a position and as if to say such a person does not belong there and does not deserve respect. It's as though they're saying an invalid person is unrightfully in charge.... that's what black people are, still, to many... invalid people (say it like in-valid, not invalid as in disabled... but not-valid)

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