08 September 2009

Racism 101

OK, at the risk of offending some of you who get this, but with the sincere hope that this will be news to others, let me tell you a simple fact:

Racism is not about bigotry.

I say this because the intense hostility to our president, yes ours and I do mean all Americans, is profoundly racist. Questioning his citizenship, calling him a socialist, labeling him a fascist, fearing he will brainwash our children, would not happen if he were white.

Saying all the protesters are racist invites howls of protest, of course, because most people who disagree with him are not doing so because he is black. Not consciously at least. Doubtless many of them have black friends and brown friends. They are no hiding under hoods or other foul things.

It is important to see that racism is not about bigotry, because bigotry is a personal feeling while racism is a social system. Our society, not just ours I hasten to add, but ours no less than any, is based on racial privilege. Our constitution inscribed it in the provision for counting people in bondage as 3/5 of a person when enumerating the population. Only black people were in bondage by then. No white people were slaves. But that's only an illustration.

My point is that we organized our country around racial privilege and have been hacking away at it ever since. But like a dandelion, plucking the leaves does not kill the plant. Even if you get some of the root, it will grow back. The whole thing has to be removed, and the country is not yet willing to dig that deep, disturb that much soil, get that dirty.

Because we have not eradicated the whole weed, it grows back.

Would we ever question the natural citizenship of a white person running for president? Heck some Republicans were trying to repeal that provision to help the Governator of California who is undeniably not a natural born citizen.

Did we ever call Richard Nixon socialist (when it meant something) when he imposed wage and price controls or even tried to reform health care?

Did we question the integrity of Bush 1 when he addressed the nation's schoolchildren and asked them to write him telling how they would help him? Yes precisely the same request, but no fears of brainwashing then and no demand for releasing the text in advance.

Is it any surprise that the worst outbreaks of this hostility are coming from the old Confederacy?

Today's suspicion and protest is perhaps stoked by the hyper-partisan climate in which we live. This level hostility has not been seen since Roosevelt (either one btw) was accused of betraying his class. But this is worse. No one told them they were not Americans.

Well, I am telling all those who listen, which are few, that Barack Husein Obama is more American than any one of them. How do I know? Because he actually wants to make us truly,

One Nation, Under God, Indivisible, With Liberty and Justice for All.

If you look at those four qualities, and believe they are American values, and then ask who is truly American, the black man with the African father clearly is.

And that is what frightens so many people. That's why they accuse, indict, and condemn. He cannot be American because he .... does not look like us. I, at this moment, am so sorry I look like them.

How sad, how unutterably sad for everyone.


Joel Monka said...

My comment ran way long, so I posted it on my blog instead.

WFW said...

why not tell us where that blog is? Inquiring minds want to know.

Joel Monka said...

Sorry! it's cuumbaya

Revwilly said...

Fred, you write with a passion I understand and appreciate. This time I think your passion may have gotten the best of you. Members of President Obama's own party have referred to people who protest at town hall meetings as "unAmerican" and "evil-mongers". I join you in calling for an end to the few at either end of the extremes, who make outrageous accusations and statements against anyone.


Scott Gerard Prinster said...

Because we have not eradicated the whole weed, it grows back.

Fred, although I need to think through this idea further, my immediate reaction to this is that the "weed" is part of us, and not something we are going to eradicate. It seems to me that characterizing racism as something that can be plucked out is uncomfortably close to the externalized source of evil in the character of Satan.

Steve Best said...

So, I haven't really been focusing on specific quotes from the post as other commenters have, but I did have these thoughts bouncing around my head before your post, and echoing rather loudly in my thoughts this past week, especially when viewing Obama's speech to Congress. And, in the moment of Joe Wilson's heckling, and the aftermath of this in the media, your words seem to ring true. I even saw that Maureen Dowd's Op-Ed today addressed this quite specifically.
Thanks again for your interesting insights.