President Barack Obama’s post-racialism is reaching absurd proportions. In an interview, former President Jimmy Carter said, “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’s remarks are reasonable. One would have to dig pretty deep and reach pretty far to otherwise explain the sheer venom behind the birther movement which keeps resurrecting itself under new pseudonyms to go along with new excuses for bizarre and frankly dangerous behavior. Even Bill Cosby, whom I criticize harshly for blaming impoverished Blacks for their own condition, agrees (and sounds pretty reasonable in the process).
Now, I don’t know, not having been there and not seeing all the facts what role race played in that, but I think it’s fair to say, number one, any of us would be pretty angry. Number two, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home and, number three, what I think we know separate and apart from this incident is that there is a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately. And that’s just a fact.
So we have to dig a little too deep and reach a little too far to explain White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs’ remark that:
The president does not believe that the criticism comes based on the color of his skin. We understand that people have disagreements with some of the decisions that we’ve made … I don’t — I don’t think that, you know, the president does not believe that it’s based on the color of his skin.
Gibbs held his ground under remarkable (for the White House Press Corps) questioning.
People in the White House simply cannot really believe this. The Salon.com article from which I draw the Gibbs quote explains that “the Obama team has always been wary of suggestions that race plays a role in the opposition to the president, for fear that he’ll be accused of playing the ‘race card’ or tagged as a new Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson.”
But what’s really troubling is that they apparently expect to maintain credibility while issuing these denials. This is not the first time, by a rather long shot. Obama backed off on his entirely reasonable initial statement about the Gates arrest. After a masterful speech that still denied the significance of Reverend Jim Wright’s remarks, he repudiated his former pastor, of whom he had initially said he could “no more disown . . . than . . . my white grandmother.”
It’s starting to look seriously delusional. Perhaps even pathological. Obama’s been lying so much he doesn’t even see what surely the entire rest of the world must see. He’s been in office for less than eight months. He ran on a platform of “change,” but his term looks more and more like Bush’s third.
Which makes it all the more clear that the birthers, deathers, tenthers, and whatever it is they are this week are really about race, and that Obama’s denials of race as a factor are all the more ironic. Because it looks like the only thing that’s changed at the White House is the skin color of its occupants.