American Racism Threatens Progressive Agenda

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[Speaking Truth To Power]

Now that world leaders have left town after the week long General Assembly meetings at the United Nations, let's revisit some pressing U.S. domestic issues that threaten the progressive agenda.

As the whole country now, recently 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."

Many level-minded people would agree with Carter's statement; but there very many deniers out there as well.

We need to address this issue seriously because how we deal with it also determines the success --or lack thereof-- of this president's proposals and initiatives.

"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 racist inclination still exists," Carter had told Brian Williams, of NBC.

"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."

Typically, some critics have denounced President Carter, accusing him of “playing the race card” instead of aiming their criticism against racist right-wing demagogues that have been spitting bile. Mind you, this is the same media which turned Reverend Jeremiah Wright into a poster-boy of prejudice. Question: why hasn’t the Arizona pastor, Steven Andersen, who has literally called for the president's death, been vilified in like manner?

“I’d like to see Obama die," Andersen told his congregants. "I’d like him to die of natural causes. I don’t want him to be a martyr, we don't need another holiday. I'd like to see him die, like Ted Kennedy, of brain cancer.” 

The day after Andersen made his comments one of his congregants appeared, at an Obama event, armed with an AR-15 semi-assault rifle. Andersen is only one of several so-called preachers that have made similar comments. Others include: Colorado Pastor Pete Peters and California Pastor Wiley Drake.

Ever since President Obama’s historic ascendancy to the American Presidency backlash has been slowly fermenting in segments of the white community. Bigots charge that President Obama is a fascist; a non-citizen; and, a usurper trying to destroy America with “socialist” programs. Can some people be so blinded by racism that they can embrace such paranoid states of lunacy?

Much of the racism is being stoked by opportunists and arsonists, including: Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, Lou Dobbs and Glenn Beck.

Hate pays big time; Beck lives in a multi-million dollar mansion in Connecticut while many of the "real Americans" he purports to speak for are unemployed.

Beck has started some phony group called the 9-12 Movement, which marched on Washington after this year’s observance of the 9-11 Attacks. He famously declared a few weeks ago President Obama “hates white people;” yet he did not have a single word against the throngs that displayed the most racist signs during this so-called “grassroots” march that he promoted.

Some critics claim this president is the most dangerous “big government” liberal. To such critics, “big government” is only bad when it becomes interested in the welfare of the legions of the working poor. So, the president’s healthcare reform is to be opposed because the cost is prohibitive and the result would damage America.

In other words, helping needy and vulnerable Americans is just too costly.

Where were such concerned critics when tens of billions of taxpayer money was being burned on the wasteful Iraq war? How did that war further the national interest when those who launched the 9/11 Attacks had been based in Afghanistan?

Some of these same critics who denounce government and want a "hands off" approach turn around and demand that the courts overturn Roe vs. Wade; the historic case that upheld a woman's right to abortion.

What could be a worse example of “big government” than having the state deciding what a woman can or cannot do with her body?

The critics also have no problem when “big government” run amuck locking away in prison, millions of Black people, many for minor drug offences; offenses for which most White people are not even prosecuted. So “big government” is fine when it’s used to criminalize poor people, especially, African Americans. 

For months the climate of racism has taken on an increasingly ominous tone as we have seen “protesters” show up at rallies armed with assault rifles.

Who remembers any other president being threatened in this way? Why aren’t Republicans denouncing these overt threats calling assassination?

Most troubling is the silence of white “progressives,” many of whom have attacked President Obama for a host of things including: the ongoing Iraq War and escalating war in Afghanistan. 

If this president is having so much trouble passing a watered-down version of healthcare reform, that may not include a public option, do they think he can bring change, to Washington, without a willing Congress?

The progressives' much-desired for utopian agendas will never materialize while racism runs rampant within the nation’s collective conscience.

True, we’ve come a long way from the days of Jim Crow lynching. But it's dangerous to pretend that in America racist sentiments represent only a small fraction.

While it’s true the most visibly, virulent racists represent a minority; they operate with the tacit blessings of a large segment of white America. President Carter, a southerner, knows this truth.

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