Two former presidents spoke out about alleged racism towards Barack Obama this month.
Jimmy Carter, the 39th President of the United States, claimed that the reason people criticized the current president is because they are racist, citing examples of Obama being compared to Hitler and Joe Wilson’s outburst.
Bill Clinton, on the other hand, argued that the criticism, particularly about health care, was not about race, but about fundamental differences between the president and his political opponents.
Though opposing arguments, both have elements of truth.
While Bill Clinton admittedly has a stronger point, Jimmy Carter was not entirely incorrect. Civil Rights as we know them have only been in effect for a few decades; many voters were born before African Americans were truly equal in society. Many of those people are more than likely legitimately uncomfortable with, or even afraid of, having an African American president.
That does not mean, however, that all opposition stems from racial tension. Most of the opposition comes from people who do not agree with the president’s policies.
For example, the recent “Tea Party Express” protesters marched on Washington D.C. bearing signs claiming that Obama is trying to implement a Socialist health care system, a notion that 2008 Socialist Party candidate Bill Moore, ironically, does not agree with. Regardless of that inaccuracy in their argument, many people in this country simply do not believe that the government should provide health care, even if it’s only an option.
Why, then, is racism allegedly the underlying motive for opposition?
The best explanation is that it’s an easy scapegoat. Our society is so afraid of being politically incorrect that most people simply drop whatever objection they had after being called a racist.
Joe Wilson, the congressman who yelled “you lie” during Obama’s speech to Congress, was called a racist, and has essentially disappeared from the media after the initial hype died down. The alleged racism behind Wilson’s comments proves that most of the “racism” in this country is actually severe political correctness.
Take, for example, the state of Florida, which has three African American and three Hispanic representatives in Congress out of a possible 27, the remainder of which being white. Politically correct logic would dictate that having a vast white majority makes Florida a racist state, but that isn’t necessarily true. It is impossible to deny that there are more white representatives than there are of any other ethnicity, but that doesn’t mean that the minorities are being ignored.
The reality is that race doesn’t affect policy nearly as much as it used to, but some people still think that the American political system is the same as it was over 100 years ago, and they will continue to think so until people realize that fundamental differences between people of different ethnicities aren’t necessarily racially driven.
Our country faces enough issues besides racism, and our society as a whole should learn to look past skin color and deal with the problems such as health care reform and wars.
Do you think racism will always be a prominent issue in politics?
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