Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Carter: For many whites, Obama guilty of PWB (Presiding While Black)

Former President Jimmy Carter has earned a reputation of being brutally honest, particularly since he's left the White House.

He does nothing to diminish that reputation in this interview with NBC News:

That's right, white racism is at the core of much of the criticism of President Obama is racially motivated.

Let me put it another way, for many whites, President Obama is guilty of Presiding While Black (PWB). Clearly there is evidence that something is causing many of his opponents to become unhinged from reality. Think about all the claims believed about this president which have absolutely no basis in fact: Birthers. Tenthers. Socialized medicine. Hitler. Muslim (with the radical Christian minister). Death Panels.

It is no coincidence that older white people are the believers of these lies.

What could possibly be causing the people who believe these things to become so separated from reality? To be so willing to believe these lies?

Racism is Carter's answer. And mine.

Racism has a long history in the South and this country. It has been called this country's original sin. Although public expressions of racism have been out of favor since the successes of the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s, Republicans have based a considerable portion of their political appeal in the South on coded racist messages dating back to the 1960s. The Southern Strategy has been in the Republican play book since Richard Nixon's campaign implemented it in 1968.

The strategy was always based on appealing to the racism of Southern whites without having to resort to overtly racist overtures, although when necessary, it was not rejected (think Willie Horton). Subtle was the preferred approach.

The election of Barack Obama as president represents the unacceptible, the unbelievable, the apocalyptic development for the people who have been the targets of these coded messages over the past 40 years.

In short, their heads have exploded. Their wiring has shorted. Their world has been turned upside down.

If this election can happen, then (in their view) any lie about the president (the "other") is also believable. His election represents the end of the world as they have known it.

Racism in the U.S. has never been confined to the South. It is clear, though, that it has deeper cultural roots here than in other parts of the country. Read this book to learn just how deep those roots run and how relatively recently some of the most virulent expressions of those roots have been a fact of life here.

The history of this country — including its progress — cannot be separated from our history of race relations. Want proof? Check out the most virulent opponents of our sitting president.

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