Right On: Anti-Racism on CNN

by John Lindsey

Tim Wise, an anti-racist writer and speaker, was recently on CNN to comment on the racial subtext present in much of the opposition to Obama and his domestic agenda (we also covered this in “American Idiot: Obama, Socialism, and the Soft-Pedaling of Racism“):

Unsurprisingly, he received some less-than-friendly feedback which he recounts on his blog (the first one is downright cordial compared to others mentioned):

‘How dare you say this is about racism!’

And a pleasant Monday to you too sunshine, I thought, as I stared at my computer screen this morning, reading over the first e-mail of the day.

It was from someone who had apparently seen my presentation on CNN last night, in which I explained why racism is indeed a driving force behind the outpouring of anger we’ve been seeing…”
Read the rest in “Racism, Right-Wing Rage and the Politics of White Nostalgia

While you’re there, check out his other two excellent articles on the subject:

Hopefully, Tim will get more opportunities to speak in the mainstream media; it’s past time we had  articulate anti-racists on the news. I’ve seen him in action many times over the years, and he’d tear the average race-baiting talking head to shreds.

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American Idiot: Obama, Socialism, and the Soft-Pedaling of Racism

by John Lindsey

Bill Maher thinks we’re stupid. He’s almost certainly wrong. That being said, if he is claiming that too many Americans don’t know their asses from their elbows when it comes to knowledge about the rest of the world, their fellow citizens, or even their own government, well, that’s hard to deny.

Obama = SocialistTake the “Obama’s a socialist” claim popular with – well,  just about anyone on the far right – but most recently with the anti-health reform protesters. Now, the anger of these people is apparent, but the very act of calling the corporate-friendly Obama a socialist (apart from making actual socialists laugh) is to publicly declare that you wouldn’t know socialism if Karl Marx personally beat you over the head with it.

This is ignorance; but it is misguided (if not also ignorant) if we respond to these people as if what they’re saying has anything to do with whether or not Obama is a socialist. It doesn’t. If their anger is genuine but their accusations aren’t, it’s logical to suspect that the anger is probably coming from somewhere else.

Granted, Obama’s not the first politician to be called a socialist; nor is the use of class warfare by politicians and monied power a new tactic. Throughout our history, it’s been a highly successful method to persuade otherwise rational people to become hostile toward their own economic interests and their natural allies.

For example, many protesters of health care reform are older (and incidentally, predominantly white). Of this group, aprotest0709 substantial portion are on Medicare – a socialized, single-payer insurance system. Indeed, many of these folks would be destitute without it, which was the purpose of the institution in the first place. Why, then, would they protest a premium-driven public option? After all, they already enjoy a much better system for free. Oh, right – because it’s “socialism”. Or a “government takeover of health care.” Or – probably more accurately – because it’s “Obamacare”.

“Obamacare”, in the minds of many of these protesters, holds a stigma; because Obama himself has been (to them) successfully stigmatized. The demonization of Obama began during election season, and while vilifying political opponents is not new, the manner in which it has been applied to Obama is unique, for obvious reasons.

Whereas Democratic presidents are often portrayed as far-left advocates of causes and institutions that have become associated with people of color (e.g., welfare, Affirmative Action, discrimination in housing, and so on), Obama has been portrayed not just as a champion, but as a direct infiltration of these causes (it should be noted that forms of welfare not currently associated with people of color have no such stigma: unemployment insurance, Medicare, Social Security, etc.)

Hence:

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