Wednesday, September 16, 2009

listen to jimmy carter

I don't know how many people in the U.S., white or otherwise, actually listen to Jimmy Carter anymore, but I think they should. Whatever the failures of his presidency, his ceaseless efforts since then to make the world a better place don't get the kind of attention they deserve.

In an interview marking his 85th birthday, Carter spoke out about the increasingly toxic political environment in the U.S., including what he called "the racist attitude that is the basis for the negative environment that we see so vividly demonstrated in public affairs in recent days."

Here's what Carter said about white racism in this NBC interview:

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. 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's shared the South's attitude toward minority groups at that time, particularly African Americans. That racism still exists and I think it's bubbled up to the surface, because of a 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 grieves me and concerns me very deeply.

Reporter Chuck Todd says in this segment that Carter did the Obama Administration no favors by calling out racism like this, because "this is something they know they're going to have to respond to, and they're not going to be very happy about it" because of their "fear of backlash."

It'll be interesting to see how the White House responds, if at all. Maybe the people there won't bother -- I doubt they listen to Jimmy Carter much more than most other Americans do these days.

I'm suddenly hearing, reading, and seeing a lot more talk this week about this issue -- whether racism is a significant factor fueling opposition to health care reform, and to Obama more generally. Are you hearing more of it too?

One of the better points I've read about it all comes from Danielle Belton at The Black Snob:

No one thought the world was ending when Bill Clinton tried to kick start Universal Healthcare. There were complaints from the Republicans and the industry and Harry and Louise ads and mocking tones about "Hillarycare." But there wasn't crying and screaming in the streets mixed with gun toting and swastikas by a recalcitrant minority of people who seem unable to grasp that election '08 is over and Sarah Palin lost.

Could the growing concern about racism actually be a concerted, increasingly successful Republican effort to make this health care fight all about race, all the while denying that their protests have anything at all to do with that? Could this be a "Southern Strategy Redux"?

What do you think is turning up the heat? The most recent teabagger protests? Joe Wilson's "You Lie!" outburst during Obama's health-care speech?


  1. That's something I hadn't thought of. I;ve been thinking that there is a lot more talk about this motivating racism driving these frenzied protests (by teabaggers and others) because the opposition is finally waking up to it, and pointing it out, like Carter did. But yeah maybe that's playing right into Republican hands. After all it wouldn't be the first time.

  2. I am proud of ex-POTUS Carter for speaking up on this.

    As what is turning up the heat? The mainstream media, who else? It's their damn fault that they are stoking the hysterics of white populist rage against Obama and against people of color.

  3. Unfortunately anything to do with race relations in America causes people to shut down and scream, "I'm not racist!" But Jimmy Carter spoke about it from a place of "unbiased opinion"; and that's something black people can't do these days. Our accounts of racism are "foggy", "clouded", "biased", or "manipulative", and sometimes it takes a guy who looks like Jimmy Carter, someone who has achieved what he has, to make such a statement and be taken seriously.

  4. I'm very happy that Carter spoke up in this scenario, but I wish he'd speak more about Israeli apartheid policies like he used to. He's gone soft.

  5. I hope you people understand that Jimmy Carter himself is a racist thinking from the racist point-of-view of a Democrat.

    And, to the author, stop using the term "teabagger". It's a disgusting insult meant to degrade and dehumanize the protestors.

    I have an opinion on the 9/12 protests though. This is the only the beginning and they number of protesters are going to grow over the coming months, year and on. No matter what insults and hatreds you put out there, you're not going to be able to "do your part" stop this. If anything, you'll be joining us in time. We're centrists, conservatives, libertarians, anarchists etcetera. We're right-wingers, left-wingers, moderates. We're white, black, Hispanic, Asian, Middle Eastern and so on.

    You're "teabagger" insults can't stop that. Especially with a tiny little blog in an mindlessly isolated corner "niche" on the internet where nothing you write about matters or affects the real world.

  6. And, to the author, stop using the term "teabagger". It's a disgusting insult meant to degrade and dehumanize the protestors.

    Oh, is it? Aren't teabags part of the whole thing?

    It's strange to hear people like you suddenly complaining about such terminology. Aren't you practicing the kind of "political correctness" that your lot is always railing against?

    Tell ya what -- I'll stop calling these Beck-driven protesters teabaggers when Republicans stop using "Democrat" instead of "Democratic" as an adjective.

    I'll finally add that your claims that these crowds are heterogeneous, especially in terms of race, is completely delusional.

  7. It seems to me that President Carter is in that stage of his life where he doesn't give a flying fig about the so-called political ramifications of speaking the truth. And I kind of respect and love him for that.

  8. i agree everything pres. carter said.let's get the cowards out of the bushes and bring this to the forefront.

  9. I want to believe what Carter is saying here, I really do, but I just don't believe that what he's saying reflects his true feelings and convictions.

    Joking aside, Democrats like Carter might think that bringing race into the health care debate is going to bear fruit for them, but the truth is, it's a line of attack with limited value (in this case, I think it only serves to whip up the base). And Obama knows it, as we see today with the White House thoroughly rejecting Carter's comments.

    I respect Obama tremendously for not getting down on Carter's vulgar level, and I hope he can continue staying above it.

  10. The White House has already responded to this. The Press Sec told reporters that Obama does not think that most of those people are protesting his skin instead of his policies. But what else can they say? It is all Politricks after all. The truth never matters when it comes to politricks.

  11. While I give Jimmy Carter his props for speaking directly to the issue-I find myself feeling angry at the same time.

    We've been pointing out the mounting racism towards Obama since the stump. How is it that his word is more valid than ours?

    I have no problem with people who are raising their voice in protest over policies that they do not agree with. I've done so myself.

    This isn't about either party. It is about individual mindsets. Be they positive or negative-it is how people think and respond.

    It is not fair nor is it reasonable to believe that every White person is expressing racism when they speak out against Health Care Reform.

    But, there is no denying that there is a racist faction in our midst. A faction that feels that feels the most negative imagery and statements are okay to use.

    Both major political parties have racist within their midst. Anyone who denys this fact is asleep at the wheel. Whether you believe what Jimmy Carter said or not-is a matter of individual choice.

    I believe that he called the thing by its proper name.

  12. Partisan stuff aside, I think race is a huge issue right now and it's just that opportunity that makes whites nervous because whiteness is invisible.
    By naming the racism in Wilson's disrespect and a host of other unbelievable occurrences, one begins making whiteness (which in the United States is inherently racialized) making visible.

  13. ’ve never attacked thurmond. In the modern era, I think he was one of the best senators in the country for about 20 years, until health problems overtook him. He never denied his child, and supported her I think from the time she was a baby, and helped her get into college. He, as knova said, provided both excellent constituency service to ALL citizens of the state and hired a number of AA aides.

  14. My reasons for opposing Obama's plan have absolutely nothing to do with his color, yet, I have been labeled a racist - and possibly suffering from a psychological disorder - because of my position. I think it is tactically a brilliant move by the Democrats. It is petty and childish but effective because it puts those of us with legitimate concerns in an impossible position. The more we argue and attempt to explain our reasoning, the more obvious our latent racism becomes. We must chose between speaking our minds and being labeled as racists or remaining silent and watching the government make a huge mistake.

    I never saw it as a reason not to vote for Obama but I predicted all of this before the election. Even if Obama stayed above it all his supporters would eventually blame racism for strong opposition to his plans in an effort to silence it.

    I am not naive, I know his race and that of immigrants, etc., IS a factor for some people, but to label all opposition to his policies as racist is dangerous - as dangerous as asserting that his policies are correct because of his race.

    It would be clearly stupid to assert that the man cannot be wrong because he is black just as it would be clearly stupid to assert that he cannot be right because he is black. The morons that make such claims are easy to spot - just ask them "why?" they have taken their position - and should be completely ignored.

    Politicians must be subject to open, honest criticism if we are to live in a free society. One thing nearly all white people have in common is a dislike for being labeled a racist - even if they are, in fact, a racist. What the Democrats and their supporters are doing is attempting to put the President into a position where his policies will not be questioned out of fear of being labeled a racist.

    I hoped the country would have learned something during the Bush administration. For most of his time in office any opposition to his policies was a clear indication that one hated America or was offering support to our enemies or was unpatriotic, at best. People refused to speak out as he was destroying what was left of the Constitution because to do so meant being demonized and attacked as being un-American. Tactically, it was a good strategy because it silenced the critics, but it, too, was petty and childish.

    It was clearly wrong to give Bush carte blanche and equally wrong to give it to Obama, but its coming, and with just as disastrous consequences. The two parties keep us bickering with each other as our rights are eroded and power is concentrated...

  15. It seems like no matter what happens, there will always be an issue of racism to some degree.

  16. As a young black female independent, I get a little peeved when people want to paint ALL liberals, progressives as "playing the race card." I have some friends who are not democrats and they say that they think that race does play a part, but not completely. I believe that both the Democrats and Republicans are catering to the corporations and lobbyists in DC. The top 1% who own most of the wealth in this country, have been great at keeping us in chaos. America up for profit.

    I DO NOT think that all opposition of the president's policies are racist. The problem that I have is when people shut me down for "race-baiting" when I point out the cries of opposition from parents to not hear his speech when there was no protest from past presidents. I don't say anything because then I'm accused of being a race-baiter, fascist, or racist.

    Many people will also say that "The President is doing whatever he wants and is stomping over the constitution." The last time I checked, don't bills have to be passed by congress? And I'm also a little peeved that "everyone has awaken to the fact that we're having our rights taken away." In my opinion, this was taking place over the past eight years, but no one said squat. People thought I was crazy when I said we're "gladly giving up our rights without so much a fuss." Is it because everyone was afraid or just brainwashed? I was born in '81, but I remember hearing about how Reagan cut taxes for the wealthy and closed down mental institutions and perhaps we're all now feeling the effects? Did people protest then, or was everyone just too comfortable and greedy to not care?

    I was in NYC when Bush II visited and over 1000s of people were arrested for protesting, including those that were trying to get through the crowds. I couldn't believe it-I was like, is this the US or China?

    As far as playing the race card, it's just not those on the "left" . Some on the "right," such as Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck seem obsessed with it. Didn't Glenn Beck say something like "Obama wants reparations for black people." Some won't say it, but I feel that those that are truly racist do have this fear that blacks will retaliate.

  17. I don't like that anyone who opposes Obama for any reason - such as his policies - is automatically a racist. It's not a good scenario when the president becomes untouchable in terms of criticism due to social pressure.

  18. Jimmy Carter was a terrible President. He tried to act like a human being while in office. That kind of attitude gets us nowhere.

  19. Scarlet, clearly many people simply oppose Obama based on policy. But what you must realise is that for a very significant proportion of his opponents, the key motivation is a subconscious fear of Obama's "Otherness" -- he's black, he's "foreign", he may be Muslim, etc.

    This kind of xenophobia and racism is deeply ingrained into the psyche, so deep that many of us don't even know it's there.

  20. I totally agree with you, Eurasian Sensation. The trouble then becomes proving this. Opponents of Obama, and their leaders, can and do simply respond to such truth with an almost unanswerable challenge: "Oh really? Well then, prove it!"

    Jimmy Carter is an insightful white insider who claims it's there, but he doesn't offer solid evidence. And few people, especially on the other side of the political fence, are going to just take his word for it.

    So I wonder: are there any easily explainable and accessible ways of proving that subconscious manifestations of American white supremacy are a significant motivating factor in protests against Obama, or even just more narrowly, in the current Health Care debacle?

  21. Do I think everyone who opposes Obama is a racist? No.

    Do I think there are people who are using race to whip people up? Yes. That's what this nonsense about whether or not he was born in America is.

    That's what this whole Barack Obama is secret Muslin stuff is about. As if that should matter. A measurable percentage of adults believe that.

    And of course the White House can't claim that it's about race. If you think they could and still be in a position to govern, you haven't been paying attention in America for the last couple of decades.

  22. The simple truth is Obama can't give an honest answer about this and has to resort to the jokey joke remark he made on Letterman. Let's face it racism has now reached the level where those experiencing it can't even complain without being called out as whiners. There is absolutely no question in my mind that a white president would never be subjected to "you lie" or hitler posters. What makes these protests even more hysterical is what caused them. Universal healthcare. Don't you dare take my over priced, never pay the claims, health insurance away from me you socialist arab! But the only thing worse than being a racist in America it seems is being called one. And as long as the environment of "I am tired of walking on eggshells get over it racism doesn't exist" persists we will never see real change in this country. I don't care who is president.

  23. Cat - I'm sorry, but I can't let your comment go by unanswered. When you wrote:

    "There is absolutely no question in my mind that a white president would never be subjected to hitler posters."

    I busted out laughing.

  24. Vick I am more than happy to amuse you. What I find even more amusing is the notion online that anything stated as a "personal account" is assumed true. We are in a media age and President Bush was president a year ago not 50 years ago. If the posters were there I am pretty sure CNN and MSNBC would have been more than happy to show them. Surely C-span, we saw the shoes fly at his head after all. So I find it amazing through out the google search all I see is other "personal accounts" of this. On the other hand I can actually see the posters at the town hall meetings. Oh and for the record I am 39 so I did watch television, read blogs, and read the newspaper 2 years ago too. And strangely don't have any "personal accounts" of Bush being protrayed as Hitler. Plenty of him and other republicans accusing anyone who disagreed with them unamerican. But the Hitler stuff not so much...

  25. Oh and to be clear I meant in the United States. I haven't seen Americans react to their President in such a way. I mean Nixon did lie criminally so Clinton too but I don't recall hitler posters and boycotts from the school because the President might warp young minds.

  26. Cat- Let me get this straight: Are you saying that the pictures I linked to aren't real pictures? You think they're fakes? Fake photos? Or fake signs?

    Or is it that they don't "count" because you never saw them on cable news shows? I guess seeing things on TV is very important to you for some reason? Why is that? Are things on TV more real to you somehow?

    I know Cat will say these posters don't exist or don't matter because they weren't on her teevee set, but here are some more "Bush=Hitler" posters from the not so distant past.

    How many Bush=Hitler posters not shown on TV does it take to equal one Obama=Hitler poster shown on TV?

  27. Vick, Why is it that Bush = Hitler images are so important to you? What do they really have to do with what this post is about?

  28. macon d -
    My comments are in response to Cat's claim that a "white president would never be subjected to Hitler posters," a claim so obviously absurd and ridiculous I couldn't let it go by unanswered.

    I guess it's wildly inaccurate, exaggerated statements about race that bug me, not Bush=Hitler posters, which I couldn't care less about really.

  29. I guess it's wildly inaccurate, exaggerated statements about race that bug me, not Bush=Hitler posters, which I couldn't care less about really.

    Uh huh.

    So, what do you think is the "wildly inaccurate, exaggerated statement about race" here? And what's your evidence that it's wildly inaccurate and exaggerated?

  30. macon d -

    Hmm... you don't believe what I'm saying? Pray tell what you think my real motivations are.

    Anyway, the wildly inaccurate statement about race here is Cat's comment that "white presidents would never be be subjected to Hitler posters."

    My evidence that it is wildly innacurate is the dozens of photos I linked to which clearly show the opposite to be the case. So, Cat's statement is factually wrong. Wildy so too.

    Don't you agree?

  31. Vick, I don't know what your motivations are, but if I HAD to guess, I'd say they're to counter the claims of myself and others that racism is still a major problem in America, and that white people should wake up and start solving that problem. Please do correct me if I'm wrong.

    You're clearly not here merely to point out various minor inaccuracies -- you could do that anywhere. Instead, you've seized on a relatively minor inaccuracy, providing link after link to prove that inaccuracy.

    So what I'm asking is, why is that relatively minor inaccuracy so important to you, rather than what this post and most of the comments here are actually about? Why are you engaging, that is, in the sort of behavior commonly referred to as "derailing"?

  32. macon d - First, do me a favor and until you actually catch me lying, please don't insinuate that I'm not telling the truth.

    Second, I'm not derailing. It's very on topic to challenge the idea that Obama is getting any different treatment than any other president, which is what both Carter and Cat are saying. As you know if you read my comments, this issue of racism in the health care debate is something where I don't agree with your posts, I don't think racism is part of the opposition to health care reform. So there's nothing inconsistent or out of place with my challenging Cat's comment. Same themes, same sort of thing.

    I will give you this: maybe I jumped on Cat's case with a little too much vigor, considering that people say grossly untrue things on this blog all the time. This instance struck me as too egregious to pass up. Low hanging fruit, I guess.

  33. Vick, where do you think I've insinuating that you lied? You asked what I thought your motivations are, so I hazarded a guess.

    Thanks for the explanation of your spasm of excessive vigor.


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