What Carter Said

It looks like former president Jimmy Carter has been reading Atrios:

“I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man, that he’s African American,” Carter told NBC in an interview. “I live in the South, and I’ve seen the South come a long way, and I’ve seen the rest of the country that shared the South’s attitude toward minority groups at that time, particularly African Americans”

Continued Carter: “And that racism inclination still exists. . . . It’s an abominable circumstance, and it grieves me and concerns me very deeply.”

The irony of Duncan Black’s writing style on the critiques, questions, and attacks on Obama lies in the confrontation of something that America is generally not comfortable to confront. It surely was a great triumph and step forward in race relations that we elected an African-American president last fall. But it was not the end of racism. It was not the end racial tension. It did not mark the end of hate.

Amidst everything surrounding Joe Wilson’s screetch against Obama, yesterday right wing blogs and talk shows were up in arms that somewhere in America, a fight had taken place on a school bus and a white child was beaten by a black child. That, somehow, became presumed to be racially based and President Obama’s fault. Brad at Sadly, No! takes apart an anecdote that underscores the fundamental racism driving the right’s* critique of Obama. Responding to Dan Riehl’s account of being on the same DC Metro car as a number of African-American youths following the 9/12 rally, Brad writes:

Again, let’s consider what Riehl has just told us. He prefaced his own 9/12 story by referring to it as “dangerous times.” But what did these “dangerous times” consist of? That’s right — a couple of black kids talking smack in the back of a subway car!

Not every Republican criticizing Obama is being driven out by racism. But it’s clear that a significant, vocal, and visible contingent of the American right is fueled by racist fears. These fears lead teabaggers to denounce Obama as simultaneously a Nazi, communist, fascist, socialist, Muslim Kenyan. The commonality these conflicting concepts all have is that they cast Obama as a dangerous Other.

What happens next is to be seen. But I can’t imagine any sober observe will look at this situation where a significant portion of the gun-toting right believes the President is an un-American Other who is out to destroy the country and think it is not perilously dangerous. There is a serious onus on Republican leadership and media figures to beat back the racism they are currently promoting with abandon, before something awful happens.

*At least the tea party segment of the right and those in the media and elected office who support them.

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