Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Fallacy of the Post-Racial Society

It is quite ironic that in our supposedly "post-racial" age that the ugly face of racism is rearing it's head openly and often in public. Jimmy Carter is right. Maureen Dowd is right. I've said it here before: many Americans cannot accept the fact that we have a black president. Never have, never will.

How do I know?

We have polls which tell us so.

I have people who have personally told me so.

This all began long before the election (see video above)--the "post racial America" has always been a fantasy.

Is everyone who opposes President Obama a racist? Of course not. The great majority of those who oppose him are not.

However, there is a loud, fringe element, baited by the open hostility and racism of merchants of hate such as Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh who have gained the courage to openly flout their extremist leanings. Just check out You Tube--it's all over the place. And it's both discouraging and frightening.


msteven said...

We are not in agreement on this one. I’m not sure what a “post-racial” age is supposed to actually mean. An age or culture where racism does not exist? If so, then there will never be a “post-racial” age anywhere. I think we are in a post-racial age in terms of race no longer being the significant factor it once was. Explicit racism in terms of employment and education are now illegal. Racism is not socially accepted. Even people like Jesse Jackson & Al Sharpton whom I see as exploiting the racism issue are not as influential as they once were.

I agree that there are some people who do not accept the fact that we have a black president. But the fact that black president was almost overwhelmingly elected as President of a country where the majority of voters are not black is a first and says a lot.

Also, we disagree about Jimmy Carter & Maureen Dowd being right. I disagree that the absurd outburst by Joe Wilson was racially based. I believe that this is an example where a white man publicly calling a black man a liar can be assumed as inherently racist – for political purposes. No one considered the accusations against Clarence Thomas during his hearings ‘racially’ based. Of course, I have read that Clarence Thomas is not considered a 'black man' because being both black and a republican is incompatible by many. In addition, many Democrats referred to any Republican criticism of Sonia Sotomayer as ‘racial’.

Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh represent America as much as Jesse Jackson and Keith Olbermann do. I am not saying that racism is gone. It still exsits and always will as long as humans do. But I do not believe it has the cultural or political power as it used to. And I’ll even go as far to say that in many cases, the groups keeping racism alive are the ones who would politically benefit from its existence. For example, I feel that the need for a group such as the NAACP has decreased in the last 20 years. The same for other groups such as NOW.

This country has significantly progressed in terms of being color blind and gender blind for discrimination. I think the next step is for us to become 'party' blind - to not discriminate or judge someone on the basis of their political affiliation or views on certain 'hot' issues.

I commend the majority of Democrats who are distancing themselves from Carter’s comments. It is appropriate to rebuke what Joe Wilson did, without playing the race card.

DC said...

msteven--as usual, your comments are well thought out & reasoned.

I agree with most of what you said. However, I think Carter was right in that there is a signifcant number of Americans (though a small percentage of the whole), even outside the South, that will never accept a black man or any minority group member as president. It is true that as a country we are in better shape today in terms of racial acceptance than ever before but there are still large numbers of those Americans who still live in the past. I do think it is a generational thing--my college students are not hung up on race or gender issues like my parents and gradnparents generations so I have much hope for the future.

What happened during the Clarence Thomas and Sonya Sotomayor cpnfirmation processes was deplorable.

Beck and Limbaugh clearly have huge audiences; however, I find their brand of political talk hateful and destructive.

Thanks for stopping by.

msteven said...

Thank you for your kind words.

I happened to hear President Obama say something like he knows that there are still people who see most everything through the prism of race, and many oppose him because of that, but that he got support also because of that. I was impressed by that acknowledgement.

Sadly, it is hyperbolic, divisive, simplistic and angry discourse that appears to contribute to high ratings.

You should teach a course on civility in political discourse. The sad reality may be that few would enroll and rather listen to the likes of Beck. I also happen to think that Jimmy Carter is heading in that direction.

Thanks for being a beacon of thoughtfulness in what you rightly call a poisoned atmosphere.

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