It continues. Tea Party emails and signs commonly sported doctored photographs of our president in the garb of an African Shaman. Posters portraying President Obama as a witch doctor may be racist, organizers of Tea Party protests say, but they reflect anger about where he is leading the country. In other words, a little racism is okay if you have a genuine issue to help you dislike a guy?
Meanwhile, former President Jimmy Carter held a news conference and said no question, there is racism at work here. Which of course causes the President’s political opponents to reply, screw you Carter you crazy old liberal.
What’s my view? Well, it’s not really a resolvable issue because Obama’s detractors are not going to admit it, and Obama’s supporters do find it a convenient accusation. Here’s my suggestion: let’s focus not on the existence or non-existence of racism in this case, but rather on the APPEARANCE of racism. Let’s focus on enforcing rules of civility rather than looking at the invisible- the thoughts of other humans.
For example, we went 60 years with white presidents making addresses to Congress without someone saying “you lie” on national TV. Then we get a black president, or brown anyway, he’s bi-racial, and it only takes 9 months for it to happen. Coincidence? Maybe, but why did Joe Wilson get 178 votes defending his behavior when it was an open and shut case of flouting the Congressional rules? White presidents do or say unpopular things pretty often. But they don’t get signs waved showing them in the outfits of their barbarian ancestors- naked celtic warriors sporting blue tattoos for example, or Germanic Gothic chieftains bare chested sporting horned helmets. Do any of you recall seeing such signs? I don’t.
Another issue here is that we are not going to have President Obama forever. Seriously. His detractors may think that he is going to declare martial law and cancel all future elections, but it is not going to happen. In fact, his detractors actually know that this is not going to happen- and the sign waving is mostly about the 2010 elections. We are in the process of dumbing down political discourse and taking political invective to a new level, and while it is easy to say that this process will reverse itself as soon as Obama is gone, that don’t make it true. I am looking forward to our first female president so that I can watch her being accused of making a “bitchy” speech, or see her accused of “dressing like a slut” the first time she shows cleavage at a state dinner. No, more seriously, I am not looking forward to that at all.
But come on now. Those who dislike the policies of our current president are free to oppose his policies, but the WAY that this is done is important. The lack of civility damages our political discourse. Stop peeing in the well from which we will all have to drink for the rest of our lives.