The National Herald brought national attention to a relatively obscure Manhattan monthly, the West Side News, for asking in dramatic language if racial prejudice defines opposition to President Obama (“Greek-Am.’s Paper Uses the N-Word,” Jul. 19).
I agree, and find the assertion that only Neanderthals still harbor racist views in America disingenuous. (Apropos the Neanderthal argument: a recent rather dense National Geographic article reports a study that about twenty percent of non-Africans carry Neanderthal DNA.
Africans, apparently, have no Neanderthal DNA whatsoever. That would seem to corroborate my own anecdotal observations that between a fifth and a quarter of the American body politic hate Obama because of the fifty percent of his own DNA that has no Neanderthal fragments.)
Recent research indicates that most Americans, disturbingly, avoid political discussion with anyone who disagrees with them.
Perversely, I insist on maintaining a lively and (mostly) cordial correspondence with many friends and family whose views differ widely from my own. This dialogue has convinced me that racism does in fact inform much of our politics.
How else can one explain a statement by an accomplished woman economist who insisted that Obama got into Harvard only because of affirmative action?
The same person, a graduate of an equally-distinguished university, insisted that Harvard Law School appointed Obama editor of its prestigious Law Review only so that it could show off a (presumably unqualified) token black.
In the run-up to the 2008 election an equally well-educated cousin insisted that Obama was a former “crack head” stating that (a) he had seen written proof and (b) almost all crack heads were black, therefore Obama was one as well.
He later admitted that his syllogism had a fatal flaw but insisted on his proof, which came from a publication somewhat more reactionary than Rush Limbaugh.
I have resisted retirement because it would force me into constant contact with a large number of aging – though often younger than me – Greek-American friends and family living in Florida who use the “Non-Word” all the time.
I have, with a mixture of horror and amusement, discovered that they think it is funny to substitute “Canadian” for the Non-Word.
Several very liberal – in the American sense of the term – “friends and family” told me in 2008 that they did not plan to vote in the presidential elections.
They abhorred the Republican candidate but did not believe it appropriate – or some other description – for America to have a black President.
Another friend, a highly-successful businessman, used Obama’s Presidency to justify George Zimmerman’s killing of Trayvon Martin in Florida on the grounds that having a black President “encouraged black youths towards violence against whites.” When I disagreed, he described black youths who constantly threatened him and his friends growing up in Queens.
But let’s get beyond Greek-Americans and their friends. In May 2011, Tea Party demonstrators on Capitol Hill spat upon Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, a black Congressman from Missouri.
Fox News personality Sean Hannity demanded evidence and Tea Party groups offered cash rewards for proof. They then debunked the live video of the incident as a fabrication.
More recently, Clive Bundy, a subversive Nevada rancher who became a hero to many nationally prominent GOP politicians, took up a megaphone and delivered a vicious anti-black diatribe courtesy of 15 uninterrupted minutes on Fox News. Fox News management and several of Bundy’s erstwhile supporters tried to distance themselves from his comments but not from Bundy himself.
Anecdotes can go on forever. The truth is that we Americans cannot put race, especially black-white relations, out of our conscience.
Our unique history, which began with Constitutional recognition of slavery and the affirmation of the inferiority of the ten percent of our population (the 3/5 count), informs our social, cultural, and political environment.
I grew up in segregated schools and segregated businesses, including my dad’s restaurant. Anybody older than sixty who ignores Jim Crow and the bloody race conflict of the 1960s can charitably be defined as in deep denial. Most of us are not racist, but our view of black people affects us all.
I began 2008 solidly supporting an experienced Hillary Clinton over an inexperienced Obama. I gradually succumbed to my children’s persuasion (intimidation?) to support Obama because the symbolism of America’s first black President corrected an historical injustice that far outweighed the symbolism of electing the first woman president. Unfortunately, Obama’s election galvanized rather than dampened anti-black attitudes.
This is good news for Democrats. I believe – again based primarily on personal anecdotal evidence – that a third to a half of Romney’s vote came from people who could not abide a Black Man in the White House.
I see no other explanation for women voting for Romney in 2012 given the GOP’s suicidal determination to alienate them.
Should the Democrats nominate a white woman candidate in 2016 and race is no longer at issue they could well achieve the largest landslide victory since Franklin Roosevelt took 97% of the Electoral College in 1936.