Obama's Impact on Race Relations in America
America's first post-racial president has damaged race relations in the nation.
In an April 2012 interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Obama said, "I never bought into the notion that by electing me, somehow we were entering into a post racial period."
Thembi Ford, author of the article, added this:
Obama has been in the hot seat about race since his early days as a candidate, and it's hard not to notice that he has always been, even if by force, rather quiet on race issues. We've watched him handle attacks against his character and veracity (such as the still-raging birth certificate fiasco) that have been blatantly racial without ever calling out the issues that his blackness presents. To me, this interview sounds like a slightly more open Obama, who in his second term [did Ford mean "the second half of his first term"?] has settled into the reality that continuing to downplay the race issue is entirely unavoidable.
And therein is part of the explanation of how President Obama has damaged race relations.
Ford frames all those who question the authenticity of Obama's birth certificate as motivated by racial bias. Here's the consequence of that common, knee-jerk media reaction to Obama's critics:
The legacy media, and many Democrat pols and pundits, have so often aimed to wound Obama's detractors with their frivolous playing of the race card that it's become a blade so filed down by battological use that it no longer cuts. Like the bayonet in modern warfare, it doesn't work anymore.
But the marks those insults have left on their targets, through the blanket casting of aspersions -- for example, proponents of the Tea Party movement are labeled racist -- linger. And those whose non-racial motives have been impugned by the easy slur in being called racists have hardened to the charge.
Nevertheless, the race card continues to be deployed. It is akin to what, in a different venue, a provocative French author calls "the tyranny of guilt."
In his book The Tyranny of Guilt: An Essay on Western Masochism, French writer Pascal Bruckner suggests that Europe, and particularly the French, have, since the end of World War II, been consumed by a pathological guilt that has rendered Europe incapable of confronting contemporary atrocities. He writes (italics in the original):
The century that is beginning will be one of generalized litigation: suits involving repair and restitution of works of art will multiply exponentially; if necessary, all the museums will be emptied to send back every painting, every sculpture and bas-relief, to its original owners, the notion of imprescriptibility being extended to all domains. Statutes of limitations have been abolished. Will the working class someday demand that capitalism pay damages and interest for its shameless exploitation of worker over two centuries? As soon as we acquire the status of legal claimants, we immediately acquire that of injured parties as well. Each of us is given at birth a portfolio of grievances to exploit. (p. 147, Princeton University Press, 2010)
The legacy media, and Democrat pols and pundits, have so transmogrified what was the wholly authentic accusation of racial prejudice during the Civil Rights Movement -- a proven charge that helped persuade a nation to dramatically alter race relations for the better -- into a partisan slogan that is a grotesque disfiguration of its historical past.
That transmogrification has not advanced race relations in America; it has damaged them.
That's part of the bruise the Obama era will leave on race relations.
When it comes from the keyboard of a respected black journalist from a major newspaper, the damage is magnified.
Talk about a "post-racial" America when Barack Obama was elected president has pretty much gone away, for good reasons. Even he didn't believe it. In fact, four years later, some disgruntled conservatives defensively accuse him of running the "most racial" presidency. That's a laughable notion, given how obviously this president has avoided saying much about race if he can help it.
Here is Page's close:
For many conservatives, I suspect, espoused skepticism about Obama's religion, birth certificate or college grades has become a tribal identifier, a sign of true-blue membership in a sociopolitical population that opposes Obama's liberalism. Just don't call it racist. That would be insensitive, even if it sounds true.
No wonder Obama says he "never bought into the notion" that "somehow we were entering into a post-racial period," according to a Rolling Stone magazine article this year. Yet if anyone can reach out for common ground with conservatives on issues like, say, the value of marriage and good parenting, he's the man to do it.
He might not win many conservative votes, but maybe they'll treat him a little less like an alien.
Have we seen any indication of the president's desire to "reach out for common ground with conservatives"? We have not. What we have seen by his administration is an in-your-face arrogance driven by the notion that to the victor go the spoils -- all the spoils.
Has "this President obviously avoided saying anything about race," as Page writes? Hardly.
One short litany of events illustrates Page's journalistic amnesia. It includes the names Professor Henry Gates (who was the one who acted stupidly, and not the police officer trying to defend Gates' property), Trayvon Martin (the son Obama never had), and Obama's senior law enforcement official, Eric Holder (the same Holder who continues to dodge an explanation of why our government sent weapons to Mexican drug cartels that led to the deaths of hundreds of innocent Mexicans. Is that not racial insensitivity?).
In his article, Page writes not as a "journalist," but as a partisan polemicist. And his name is Legion, for there are many "journalists" like him in the legacy media.
Candidate Obama appealed to the electorate as a transformational candidate. The legacy media latched on to the race element in that meme as key to his promised transformation.
In his 2009 article entitled "A Post-Racial President?," Thomas Sowell -- a hard man to charge with being racially biased against blacks -- wrote:
[Obama] found it expedient to appeal to a wider electorate as a post-racial candidate, just as he has found it expedient to say a lot of other popular things - about campaign finance, about transparency in government, about not rushing legislation through Congress without having it first posted on the Internet long enough to be studied - all of which turned to be the direct opposite of what he has actually done after getting elected.
The promise of being a post-racial president, as made by candidate Obama, was clearly implied, when not explicitly suggested. Some white voters, perhaps out of white guilt, inferred more into the post-racial meme than Obama stated. But none read more of the race-based element into his words than did the legacy media. And for his part, he did nothing to discourage them from taking that slant. In fact, he did the opposite.
Consequently, the subsequent comparison today between his lofty promises and his dismal performance has further damaged the media's future standing as credible reporters and commentators concerning race relations in America. They've earned their loss of credibility.
If the media of the 1960s had had the level of credibility on racial matters as does today's media, the Civil Rights movement would have been a much harder and longer ordeal for the nation.
Lastly, in March 2008, the American Thinker posted a blog entitled "Obama's strong minority perspective." It focused on an article in the February 6, 1990 issue of the New York Times written by Fox Butterfield, entitled "First Black elected to Head Harvard's Law Review" (not available on the internet).
Butterfield quoted the "28-year old graduate of Columbia University who spent four years heading a community development program for poor blacks on Chicago's South-Side before enrolling in law school" as saying:
I personally am interested in pushing a strong minority perspective. I'm fairly opinionated bout this. But as president of the law review, I have a limited role as only first among equals.
Perhaps, in his current role as president of the United States of America, both its red and blue states, Barack Obama doesn't understand that, while his role today is vastly expanded from the Harvard Law Review, he was still chosen "first among equals."
In the early 1980s, as the City Council-appointed chair of the Human Relations Committee of a Southwestern city of over 100,000 residents, Lee Cary, a frequent AT contributor, received a letter of commendation from a senior Department of Justice official for his efforts at improving race relations there.