All I can do is shake my head and gape

Over at TNR, John McWhorter ponders whether the vociferous opposition we are seeing to President Obama is sublimated racism. His conclusion?
Dismissing the proposal to admonish Wilson formally for his outburst, Barney Frank quipped, "I don't have time to monitor everyone's civility." Frank is right. It is certainly not pretty that some people's take on Obama is likely mediated by racism. But the phenomenon is less a matter of open bigotry than a breach of civility. Who ever thought that all people would be civil at all times? And who ever thought, given the inherent imperfectability of humankind, that racism is somehow different from our other flaws and could be subject to complete elimination?

No one pens doorstop volumes announcing that mosquitoes still exist. We know they do, and we assume they always will, because life isn't perfect. The issue is how close to perfect we can expect to get. Surely, health care, two wars overseas, and a deeply ailing economy are more important than mosquitoes--or whether some people's feelings about Barack Obama are less than, yes, civil.

First of all, let me concur with Rep. Frank that the resolution condemning Wilson was a waste of the people's time, and did nothing more than create a martyr of a man who is simply a boor. Move along, folks.

On the larger topic at hand, I think it is frankly obvious that many of the more strident protesters are racist. The whole "Birther" movement defies any other explanation, and I include those member of Congress who have played lip service to the "issue" in the racist designation. Sorry, dudes, but you are what you are.

As for the mass of the "Tea Party" gaggle, I don't think they are necessarily racist per se. I will refer you again to this most excellent post of Freddie's over at Ordinary Gents on the underlying demographic anxiety that (I think) more accurately describes the motivation. But you know who really is racist, or (just as bad) willing to stoke racial tensions in the most cynical and nauseous way? This man:

Why do I say that? Because:
Rush got things started today with the latest Drudge special, a story of an assault on an Illinois school bus, with Drudge's headline highlighting the potentially racial element of the event: "WHITE STUDENT BEATEN ON SCHOOL BUS; CROWD CHEERS." Rush ran with it, saying, "it's Obama's America, is it not? Obama's America -- white kids getting beat up on school buses now."
It defies all reason that this needs to be said, but apparently it must. The President of the United States is in no way responsible for any change in the country that would lead to any student of any color being beaten up by any other student. It is not "Obama's America" in which this could happen. It is America, period. Black people and white people have been beating each other up in this country since the Dawn of Ever, and will continue to beat each other up long after Obama has left the White House. It is a long and tragic history, and is immensely complex and fraught.

Limbaugh knows this. He is many awful things, but he is not stupid. No, he is something else entirely. Over to you, Rod Dreher:
But it only seems so far away because many people worked too hard -- and some even gave their lives -- to drive those demons out. And now here is Limbaugh, of Palm Beach, and his ilk, calling them back insouciantly, for political advantage. This is evil. [emphasis in original]
Yes, indeed. This is evil. This is an evil man doing evil things.

This, of course, makes me aware of how totally naive I have been. I honestly, fool that I am, expected that my country would be better than this. That, were the sludge we call Beck and Limbaugh to spew forth the drek we are now hearing, the country as a whole would recoil in collective horror. But no, my friends. No. There they sit, with their shows and their viewers and their listeners, and they stoke a fire they have no interest at all in controlling.

Not all of us were so naive. To you, Ta-Nehisi:
I got a note from a good friend yesterday expressing shock, and anger, about Drudge and Malkin's usage of that alleged racial beat-down on a school-bus. On some level, I wonder if something's wrong with me. I'm neither shocked, nor angry. This is exactly how I expected these fools to respond to a black president.
I mourn, sincerely, for that part of my self that believed we were better than this. And I wait, in apprehension, for what may come next.

[Editorial Note: This is my house, and thus my rules prevail. I am not interested in discussing a topic that has nothing, in my view, with the topic of this post. If anyone would like to discuss the travails of the Democratic Party, what kind of American Idol judge Ellen will be, whether Indian or Chinese tea is more fragrant, where to summer if you're tired of the Hamptons... whatever, they are free to do so in the venue of their choosing. This is not that venue.]


  1. Dan, c'mon. What's with this about Tea Party supporters not being racist per se? You are a sensible, reasonable person, yet here you sound like MoDo with the voices in her head. The simplest, best explanation for the Tea Party movement is disgust with economic stupidity by the party in power. No need to appeal to racism in any form. In fact, the constant drumbeat of "Disagreement with Obama is Racist" is simply silly. How can you possibly think that way?

    Now, Rush? I dunno about his motives, I don't listen to the man. What I do know is that he holds no elected office, and is not a member of the government, nor holds office in the Repub party. So why all the angst about what Rush thinks? Why not spend your time worrying about, say, Speaker Pelosi accusing anyone who opposes healthcare reform of being unamerican? Now that's disgusting. Why not complain about the Democratic Senators who opposed defunding ACORN? You know, that ACORN, the advisors on child sex-slavery and its tax implications? *That* is evil, pure and simple. Fix the beam in your own side's eye, and then you can see clearly to advise the right on its problems.

    One other thing. The world is moving fast outside the US. If our President doesn't spend some attention on foreign affairs beyond offending our allies and appeasing our enemies, we'll wake up one morning to find a bleak plain of green glass in the MidEast, the Random Forces of Nature forbid.

  2. John, I will "advise" the right on its problems when I see fit to do so. You are free to "advise" the left on its problems from the comfort of your own blog. You got a beef with ACORN, which is clearly foundering with no help from me? Write about it all you want.

    "If our President doesn't spend some attention on foreign affairs beyond offending our allies and appeasing our enemies, we'll wake up one morning to find a bleak plain of green glass in the MidEast, the Random Forces of Nature forbid."

    Sure we will, John. Sure we will.

    And why do I think it's relevant to talk about Rush Limbaugh? Because the leaders of the GOP kowtow to him, that's why. Because anyone who dares to cross him is forced to recant and apologize within 72 hours. Because of this:

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  4. Sorry, dude. Not in the mood for it.

  5. Groovy. Keep supporting the Dems, regardless. It is only the Republicans that are evil.