Monday, September 14, 2009

Tim Wise: The Elephant in The Room.

Tim Wise and Don Lemon discuss the elephant in the room when it comes to the tea parties and the birthers: Just how much does Obama's race figure into all of this?

Wise points out that race is clearly a factor when people like Glenn Beck are arguing that the healthcare debate isn't really about healthcare, it's about reparations for black people. I mean that's not dog whistle, that's absolutely in your face.

WISE: ...You have Rush Limbaugh yesterday on the air saying first that community service is the first step towards fascism, which is bizarre even for him.

And then almost immediately after that saying one of the problems with America is too much multi culturalism. You wouldn't say that unless you are trying to stoke white racial resentment. And so when you say those things, I want to know when are Republican leaders going to condemn that kind of rhetoric because that is where race is being interjected. It is not interjected by us, it's interjected by the leading talk show hosts in this country.
And Wise has a similar theory when it comes to the birther movement:
There is a large segment of the American population, particularly a sizable amount of white folks, frankly, and in the Republican Party who do not view him as legitimate, the Berger phenomenon. Let's be honest. If this man's name was O'Shaughnessy or O'Malley and I made a birth certificate that said he was born in County Court Ireland in 1961, nobody would care or believe it. But if you say he is from Africa, he has an African daddy. He is from Kenya. People will believe that.

They want to point him as a foreign outsider out to destroy America. And that kind of over the top rhetoric isn't just about political disagreement, it is about an attack on his identity and his American- ness.
Because some people simply can't accept that we are not the only folks in this country, we are not the standard anymore for what an American is. It is a multicultural nation.
It is impossible to watch Beck and Limbaugh, and listen to the rhetoric they are employing, and not to believe that they are playing on racial fears. Beck has even gone as far as to imply reverse racism by claiming that it is Obama who is the racist and that he has a difficulty with white people.

As I say, it's not even the kind of dog whistle racism which the McCain campaign indulged in during the election, when they portrayed Obama as "The One"; Beck is actually right in your face saying that this guy is a black racist seeking reparations.

Quite how he is getting away with this without there being genuine public outrage is beyond me.


Fineman here appears to argue that a lot of this is Obama's fault because he's not kissing the racist's asses often enough.

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