One of the reasons I believe a certain segment of the population has been so openly hostile to President Obama is the realization, conscious or otherwise, that the so-called browning of America has reached the highest point: a black man in the White House. For the prejudiced or outright racist who have seen people of color become more and more prominent in American life, it seems like at least the presidency was something “they” wouldn’t get; the last safe bastion against the encroachment of people of color in all spheres of American society. Then it happened. And with that, directly or not, the subject of race has come to the forefront.
Clearly, white resentment has not been couched in ambivalence, as we see every day, from how the President is disrespected to the deplorable reactions to the murder of unarmed black men, women and children at the hands of the police.
One of the signature claims of that resentment is that Obama has divided the country. It’s that mentality that led a Trump surrogate in Ohio to state there was no racism before Obama. Yes, she got bashed for making such an absurd statement and, at first, my reaction was that I was witnessing an instance of yet another conservative believing their opinions are fact and, as such, are not subject to scrutiny. (See Antonio Sabato Jr. claiming at the most recent GOP convention that he believes Obama is a Muslim, and that his confidence in that belief is enough to make it true.) But in all fairness, what she did was articulate very badly what many like her truly feel: that issues of race and racism are now and have been discussed more in the last 8 years than in the previous 30 or so. And that makes bigots, active or passive, very, very uncomfortable. That’s what she meant.
Whether it’s tacit acknowledgement that folks who have suffered various degrees of ignominy might want payback in more ways than one or just their full-on overt racism, the prospect of being on the receiving end of that purported payback, and that they’d be punished even half as badly as the hurt inflicted on people of color, rattles and scares them to their core. It leads to instances of tragic irony, too.
I mean, is there anything more un-American and unpatriotic than to threaten the stifling of dissent using the US flag as cover? You know, the same flag that represents the freedom to protest.
Density or denial? I guess that if the result is the same, it doesn’t matter, right?
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