Paul R. Lehman, Chris Matthews’s “Rise of the new Right,” hides bigotry behind civic concerns

June 19, 2010 at 9:17 pm | Posted in American Bigotry, Media and Race | 3 Comments

The primary thing that Chris Matthews’s show “Rise of the new Right” verified was that many European Americans are afraid. What they are afraid of can be stated in three words—Barack Husain Obama. They are not afraid of the man Obama, they are afraid of what he represents to them. European Americans grew up in a society that constantly reinforced the idea of their skin color being the most important feature of their being. They believe that their color is a biological gift that made them intellectually, physically, and morally superior to all peoples with darker skin. Unfortunately, many of these European Americans continue to believe the lie and now are afraid of losing their self-perception of being superior based on their color, their loss of a lifestyle that made them feel in control, and their special privileges, like being the only normal people in America. Their fear has turned into anger and that anger is directed at the one person who represents the cause of their loss—President Obama.

The big lie that many European Americans do not want to admit is the fact that they fear what Obama represents to their self-image. European Americans were led to believe that they were the only normal people in America. For verification they only needed to look in the Bible and see a picture of Jesus who looks just like them.  In addition, they could look at Santa Clause, the Tooth Fairy as well as all the great leaders of this country and see the likeness of themselves. No other ethnic group in America could do that. All the social standards in society were created to reflect European American interests and concerns. In addition to the physical ramifications that underscored their normal status, laws were created to insure that their normalcy was protected.

So, when someone like Obama, an African American, was elected President, the feeling of loss of control took hold of their psyche. How is the world could someone they have denigrated, ignored, despised, devalued among other things, be made their leader? In essence, these European Americans saw their cherished way of life and control in America being taken away by the least respected ethnic group in society. The shock was too much to take. They could not let this stand, so they responded in a most dignified way, they went to war against Obama as well as his administration and supporters. Their fear manifested itself in a variety of ways, anger, rejection, name-calling, and propaganda.

Words alone do not carry the impact that words in context carry. When we stop, look, listen, at what is being said, who is saying it, how it is being said, and where it is being said, then we can form a concrete picture that helps us to interpret the full meaning of the word or words. Let’s take, for example, the words of one of the groups Chris Matthews showed on his special. The speaker is a famous radio and television personality. His statement was “We need to take back our country.” One must ask the obvious question, back from where? The answer is “away from Obama and what he represents to them.” Although the answer is never spoken, the audience knows what it is. A series of coded words are used to hide the bias.

                Another example of words in context involves the term “government.” Regardless of how it is used, it always refers to Obama. “Too much government in our lives,” or “government bailout, or deficits, or programs” all refers to Obama.  When the context is recognized the interpretation becomes quite clear. Two examples show directly the bigotry that hides civic concern by the European Americans towards Obama. When many of the talking heads use the term “’We’re Americans” and the “American People,” what they really mean is fair-skinned European American people, people that look like and think like them.

                The idea that these European Americans are suddenly and seriously concerned about civic affairs falls on its face when they are asked for specifics relative to their concerns. Many simply respond by calling Obama names and impugning his character and integrity. The fear has driven them so far afield that they no longer respect the office of the president or the government. If we were to listen to any of these protesters, we discover that their speech is usually extremely emotional, loud, angry, and forceful. They realize that life as they knew it has left them, and their efforts to try and reclaim it are for naught. Nevertheless, they continue to try and turn the ship around. They continue to want to hold on to the perspective, control, and privileges they once had. Their world came tumbling down when Obama was elected President. The change that took place in America has left them with a serious problem, and try as they may, negative propaganda, signs, and pictures, loud, angry voices cannot change the reality of Obama being president.

The level of privilege that was granted the European Americans when our country was formed represented the highest form of hypocrisy in America History. The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution said that the rights of each citizen were to be respected and protected. Yet, the Constitution made a compromise with the slave Industry and Southern states that ignored the value of the human being as human beings, and relegated the slaves to less than human beings—they were to be considered “three-fifths a man.” Many European thought that this consideration was made from biological facts, not for economic and political reasons.  That might be one of the reasons they want to go back to the Constitution.

One thing Chris Matthews’ program “Rise of the new Right “showed quite clearly was that the people on the right are afraid and fearful they have lost their power, privilege, and perspective in America. Their fear has made them desperate people who will try any tactic to try and regain their old lifestyle. The fact that they hide their bigotry behind civic concerns has attracted a number of non-European Americans to their membership.  At some point in their program to discredit Obama and the government, their masks will come off and expose them and their real fears.



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  1. Good column! Just one point: Many of the people so opposed to President Obama were just as adamant in their dislike of President Clinton. Some want no one in the Oval Office except a member of their own political party. Our system, though, calls for an election every four years, and neither party keeps the office forever. Incidentally, I wish those who dislike Democrats would at least use the correct name; it is DEMOCRATIC Party–not DEMOCRAT Party. How would they like being called the REPUBLIC Party?

    • Dennie, while I agree there are those who have worked hard to create and exploit class division in this county using liberals (democrats) vs conservative (republican) no one ever challenged Clinton’s citizenship, interrupted him much less called him a liar during a joint session of congress, or called on Americans to take “their” country back. This is much deeper than politics as usual.

  2. Having just watched Matthews’ special last night, I think the title of your posting says it all. While there was a dislike of President Clinton (for a variety of reasons), there is too much evidence to ignore the fact that rumblings to “take our country back” are nothing more than bigotry & racism masked as civic concern. To call it disturbing falls terribly short.

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