Friday, September 11, 2009

The Others

Go ahead and call me Janeane Garofalo all you want, but I've been saying all along that every one of these Obama concerns we've been hearing -- socialist, elitist, Kenyan, pals around with terrorists, Muslim, fascist and (even the Glenn Beck classic) racist -- and statements like "this isn't MY America"; "I want MY America back" were really just (poorly) dressed up ways of saying "I don't want a nigger being president."

I've said it and been shot down by many who swear up and down that it's Obama's "policies" that they don't like. But now that Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) showed us all just how comfortable he was calling Obama a liar in front of his peers AND the world -- something that has NEVER happened before, ever -- it's time for everyone, including those who'd rather dismiss what happened as simply "impolite" or "said in the heat of the moment," face the racial implications of what's going on here.

A great place to start is by reading this op-ed (The Racial Context of Joe Wilson's Outburst) by Stephen Maynard Caliendo, an associate professor of political science at North Central College. and Charlton McIlwain, an associate professor of media, culture and communication at New York University. In it, they argue that we need not know what is in Wilson's heart to know that "his behavior is reflective of a broader racist criticism of President Obama." "It is the consistent branding of President Obama as 'other' by his opponents (that) has created a context within which it is perceived that Obama need not be treated as other presidents have been treated. The creation of that 'otherness' ... is certainly rendered more effective as a result of deeply held negative predispositions about African Americans.

"By and large, Whites in America go out of their way to excuse such behavior as being impolite or unfortunate, but not at all related to race. If one believes that the threshold of what is to be considered to be 'racist' is that an epithet must be hurled (e.g., if Wilson would have yelled, 'You lying nigger!'), it is comfortable to believe that in a 'post-racial' nation, such behavior is divorced from the nation's rich history of oppression and White supremacy.

"For at least two years, his political opponents ... have attempted to portray Barack Obama as 'not one of us.' He has been, at various times, referred to as communist/socialist/Marxist, elitist, corrupt, a terrorist sympathizer, foreign-born, a thug, fascist and even racist. In short, he is everything that we believe America is not. He is not “one of us.” He is 'other.'

"It is no surprise, then, that some parents felt it dangerous to let this stranger talk to their children on Tuesday, and it is no surprise that at least one member of Congress believed that it was appropriate to hurl an insult at him during a formal address."

(Read the full article HERE.)


Steve on Rock Lake said...

When you're right, you're right.

Marc Lallanilla said...

It apparently takes a special breed of politician to represent South Carolina: ignorant, self-absorbed, churlish and a ranting asswipe. Remember, these are the same people who fired on Fort Sumter and started our first Civil War. (And how did that work out for you rednecks? Not too good, huh?)

I guess they're trying to start Civil War II -- but this time, having the South secede looks like a great idea. Besides Southwest Air and Hooters, they contribute almost nothing to the economy compared to the billions they suck out of federal coffers. (And this from someone who spent most of his early life in Florida and Texas.) South Carolina, please secede ASAP ... and take your dickless governor with you.

Mike said...

I'm sorry, I don't buy this racial argument at all. I think it's an easy refuge for those who can't believe that somebody doesn't support Obama - rather than engage them on the merits of the argument, you can just call them racist.

Wilson's behavior was boorish, and he shouldn't have done it. But Democrats throughout Congress booed and jeered President Bush during his 2005 State of the Union (talking about Social Security reform). So somehow it's worse when one Republican does it?

Our political atmosphere these days is poisonous, and that's the real tragedy. We need to be able to discuss differences respectfully. Shouts of "Racist!" and "Socialist!" do nothing to further (or counter) anybody's position.

Mike said...

Thank you, Kenneth, for having the balls to say what you did for it is all too true. As for Mr. Wilson, it has been my experience that no Southern-born and Southern-raised man would ever be so disrespectful to anyone in authority, but especially not to the President of the United States. Mr. Wilson revealed himself to be nothing more than common trash who probably stirs his iced tea with a coffee spoon and uses Miracle Whip rather than good ol' homemade mayonnaise. And I'd venture to guess his wife wears white shoes after Labor Day. Tacky is as tacky does. But I digress. The most vociferous critics to the President oppose him not because he's a Democrat but because he's African-American. I don't recall being offered an "opt-out" when I was in high school when (white Republican) President Ronald Reagan did a televised address to welcome us back to school in '81 or '82. Nor was my nephew offered a chance to engage in "alternative activities" when George HW Bush addressed our Nation's students several years ago. But as soon as we put a Black man in the White House nervous (white) parents coast-to-coast don't want their precious children "exposed" to a benign, "rah-rah", stay-in-school-and-do-your-best, welcome back message from our President. And the ONLY reason for their opposition is because he's Black. Period.

kansastock said...

I don't see this as simply racist but a part of the general resistence to 'change'... more a sample of Town Hall craziness at its lowest level. I fear Joe the Yeller will join the pedestal upon which Sarah and that Beck guy are standing.

Neal said...

Thanks for posting this very well-written and thoughtful article. I have also maintained that there is a definite racial overtone to the strong anti-Obama sentiments. It may be subconscious to many, but to simply dismiss it is naive. One of the commentators states that calling people who disagree with Obama racist is wrong; that those folks just disagree with his policies. Sure, that may be true for some. But just look at the way these sentiments are being expressed. Sometimes,it's not what you say but how you say it that's the most telling.

x-ray said...

Last weekend I spent it in my hometown in Southwestern Wisconsin. Before this Tea Party people and the detractors were strange video clips on the TV or comments on faceless message boards and Facebook (well i suppose they have faces on there but oh well). I tried and tried to figure out a way that these displays were born of actual concerns and not something deeper. I rationalized the critics of the bailouts started rationalizing the some of the critics of the Healthcare reform. But instead of voicing concerns of the spending it went evberywhere else. Now having been in area that FOX News panders to and seeing up close and personal since 3 members of my family are believing in the nonesense. Their comments were made in every way BUT trying keep that nigger in his place. It sadden me and was painful and as much as I wanted to start vigorous debate on it, I didn't for my mother's sake. She asked me not to start anything even though she disagrees with and she can't understand how he got this way. I almost had had it when he pointed out this pickup that was driving around with a Confederate Flag waving. "Bet you don't see that in Massachusetts?" I said "No, because we're in the North and we won. In fact, if I remember correctly so was Wisconsin." I did follow up that statement by calling them traitors. That was pretty much that. It was very frustrating regardless.

Unknown said...

I agree that Barack Obama is cast as an "Other." No other president has wanted to expand government so greatly, been so extreme in his views, and gotten a free pass from the press. When there are no checks and balances in the gov't and the media is in the pocket of the party in power as well--there is going to be intense fear and anger. The only people truly making judgements based on color are the people shouting "Racist"!

Greg ATL said...

WTF Marc?

A Congressman disagrees with the President and inappropriately and rudely shouts "you lie" during the address to Congress. He's apologized to the President as he should have. But the truth is that Pelosi's healthcare plan does not require persons making claims to show proof of citizenship. Amendments to close this loophole have been shot down by Democrats. It is unfortunate that this issue could not have received traction in the media without the Congressman resorting to such disrectful tactics.

But Marc, how do you decry this act as "racist" and then launch into such a bigotted diatribe?

In fact, to use your own words, your comments were "ignorant, self-absorbed, churlish and a [rant.]"

South Carolina and the other southern states contribute greatly to the economy. If you have never been to Charleston, you are missing out.

Since you want to dwell on the Civil War, history would teach you that Lincoln was far more concerned about the South's cotton crops than he was in eliminating slavery.

You write that SC is a drain on the federal coffers without any factual basis. The last time I checked the bulk of the federal bailout money has been heading to Wall Street in NY - not South Carolina.

If you want civility, if you want equality, then give it.

Marc Lallanilla said...

Dear Greg ATL: Despite the less-than-civil tone of your comment (or is "WTF?" a pleasant salutation among your people?), I'll respond by pointing out that I never called Mr. Wilson or anyone else a racist, as you stated. I called him ignorant, churlish and a ranting asswipe, of course, but not racist.

I have been to Charleston. And to hundreds of other towns in the South - all lovely, charming places. But you can't deny that SC has a few nasty stains on its political representation right now: A conservative, pro-family (ha!) governor under investigation for using government-funded planes to screw his mistress in Argentina. A Congressional rep who gets smacked-down by the House for his obnoxious behavior on national TV.

These sorts of imbroglios aren't limited to the South - Blagojevich, anyone? But the South does currently lead the nation in fundamentalist hypocrisy and foaming-at-the-mouth, pistol-packing political backwardness. I'm not alone in calling Mississippi a "developing state" - because "third-world state" sounds too harsh.

And the South does not, in fact, contribute greatly to the national economy compared to the benefits it receives from D.C. Of the 20 states that get the greatest return on their federal tax dollar, 12 are in the South:

Of the 20 states that contribute more than they receive in federal tax benefits, only 3 are in the South. No matter how you measure it, the South is sucking more money out of the U.S. economy than it contributes.

In other words, New Jersey is pulling your weight. Ouch - that has to hurt.