Paul R. Lehman, Criticism of Obama based in bigotrySeptember 4, 2010 at 8:29 pm | Posted in American Bigotry, Race in America | 3 Comments
Tags: E.J. Dionne, GOP attacks, Jr., Muslim, Paul Krugman, the right
Although many reasons are given by the Republicans and the right for casting aspersions and criticism at President Obama, the most obvious reason is his ethnicity. Two noted journalists, E. J. Dionne, Jr. of The Washington Post, and Paul Krugman, of The New York Times, wrote in recent articles that the lack of leadership from the Republicans and the right in speaking out against the negative and often less than accurate criticism against President Obama could spell serious trouble for the country. Although previous presidents were the recipients of criticism, none have had to deal with the direct personal and character attacks lodged at Obama. Two charges assigned to Obama are troubling to say the least. One claim is that he is anti-American, the other is that he is Muslim, both of which are untrue. Under some circumstances some might consider these claims political, but when we evaluate their nature, the focus is more on his ethnicity. The basis of the claims is steeped in bigotry.
In noting his concerns about the attacks on Obama, Krugman observes that “Mr. Obama’s election would have enraged those people if he were white. Of course, the fact that he isn’t and has an alien-sounding name, adds to the rage.” These attacks are not restricted to a narrow segment of society. Krugman continues by adding that “By the way, I’m not talking about the rage of the excluded and the dispossessed: Tea Partiers are relatively affluent, and nobody is angrier these days than the very rich.” He goes on to mention a number of the rich– Steve Schwarzman, and the Koch brothers. So, the attacks are serious enough to have the rich and powerful participate. Why is all this happening to Obama?
Rush Limbaugh refers to President Obama as “Imam Hussein Obama,” and had called him “the best anti-American president we’ve ever had.”To reasonable people these references might appear to be the ravings of an entertainer wanting to get attention in an effort to boost ratings. However, Limbaugh has made it clear from the day of Obama’s election that he wants him to fail. So, any rhetoric by Limbaugh focusing on Obama’s politics is simply a cover for his bigotry. And because he is such a popular spokesperson for the right, thousands of people believe what he says.
Both Krugman and Dionne note that the increase in the extreme language by the GOP and the right has gone unchecked by the so-called responsible Republicans. Dionne notes that “the rise of an angry, irrational extremism—the sort that says Obama is a Muslim socialist who wasn’t born in the United States—that was not part of Ronald Reagan’s buoyant conservative creed. Do Republican politicians believe in the elaborate conspiracy being spun by Glen Beck and parts of the Tea Party?” He adds, “If not, why won’t they say so?” The reason for not stepping up and renouncing the hateful language is because of fear from the rest of the group. No one wants to be the one who points out the ignorance and stupidity of the group.
When we examine some of the claims against Obama, we must admit that they are without merit. For example, if he were anti-American why would his actions display the opposite effects? What specifically has he done that can be characterized as anti-American? The people who work with and around him must all be under some spell or other not to recognize his anti-American behavior—or maybe those actions do not exist. One thing is certain on which both Dionne and Krugman agree, and that is Obama, his administration and party need to get busy and try to deflate the extremist language before it becomes uncontrollable. Too many people are starting to believe the irrational language of Limbaugh and Beck.
To say that these attacks on Obama are based in politics and not on his character would be incorrect. Constructive criticism is generally welcomed because it provides help in working towards the objective. Negative criticism and name calling serves no useful purpose. So, when the Obama critics offer constructive criticism, they given him something to build on, but when the criticism is negative, it simple add unnecessary heat to the atmosphere. If the GOP wants to attack Obama as the Democratic President regarding some political concern, then that fair game. However, the attacks have not been about his policies, but attempts in trying to label him as Muslin, socialists, anti-American, alien; none of which are true. The attacks are focused on Obama, the African American because therein lies the threat of loss. When we give some thought to the nature of the attacks, we note that had Obama not been African American the attacks would reflect more on policies rather than negative name-calling and labels. That, however, is not the case.
We can all hope that the GOP and especially the right will come to understand that the Civil War and Reconstruction are over, that we are the United States. President Obama is president of all the people regardless of how they might regard him. Rather than trying to help Limbaugh, Beck, the GOP, and the extreme right cause Obama to fail, which also means the country fails, why not try to add some constructive criticism to the mix and see what that produces. For certain the negative criticism will yield no good fruit. Dionne and Krugman are correct in speaking out about the destructive possibilities of the extremely negative comments of the GOP and the need for Obama to address the problem. After all, being patriotic is grounded in taking positive actions that help to build towards a better and brighter future. When the actions taken are meant to do harm or destroy our country that we call anti-American.