With all due respect to Jimmy Carter, the racist component of Obama-hatred has been undeniable since the summer of 2008, when Sarah Palin rallied all-white mobs to the defense of the “real America.”
He goes on to point out that Congressman Joe Wilson's crying out "You lie," which sparked the debate on race, was shocking not so much in its presumed racism but in the fact that it breached a previously secure barrier.
It was the first time that the violent rage surging in town-hall meetings all summer blasted into the same room as the president. Wilson’s televised shout was tantamount to yelling“Fire!” in a crowded theater. When he later explained that his behavior was “spontaneous” rather than premeditated, that was even more disturbing. It’s not good for the country that a lawmaker can’t control his anger at Barack Obama. It gives permission to crazy people.
Isn't it a fascinating concept that what we do and what we say may influence others? I would say that unspoken in that acknowledgment is the fact that we bear a certain responsibility for the results. This is especially true if we enjoy the public spotlight. That's is where Glenn Beck comes in.
Beck has notoriously defamed Obama as a “racist,” but the race card is just one in his deck. His ideology, if it can be called that, mixes idolatrous Ayn Rand libertarianism with bumper-sticker slogans about “freedom,” self-help homilies and lunatic conspiracy theories. (He fanned Internet rumors that FEMA was establishing concentration camps before tardily beating a retreat.) It’s the same crazy-quilt cosmology that could be found in last weekend’s Washington protest, where the marchers variously called Obama a fascist, a communist and a socialist, likening him to Hitler, Stalin, Castro and Pol Pot. They may not know that some of these libels are mutually exclusive. But what they do know is that they need a scapegoat for what ails them, and there is no one handier than a liberal, all-powerful president (who just happens to be black).
Beck likes to say he predicted 9/11 and that another Timothy McVeigh is on the way. Among his audience of millions, one presumes many hang on every word. But the point Frank Rich makes in conclusion is something to ponder.
For all our nation’s unfinished business on race, racism is not Obama’s biggest challenge during our unfinished Great Recession. He — and our political system — are being seriously tested by a rage that is no less real for being shouted by a demagogue from Fox and a backbencher from South Carolina.
What's your opinion? Is that rage which is sometimes fuelled by Glenn Beck and others, the real problem?
Please feel free to leave a comment.