Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Can a "white male" disagree with Pres. Obama and not be "racist"?

Wanting to “expand” some of the focus of the blog has led me to the thought that I should “share” something more about me.  Obviously my personal life has been an open book but my core beliefs have not.  Recently I had an exchange with another blog writer over the rodeo incident in Missouri where a clown acted as Pres. Obama.  His take was that this was racist and mine was to rather so, hey, not so fast.  During the exchange with him I wrote my thoughts and wanted to share them here.  Not so much because I think that I am 100% correct but because I believe we have gotten far removed from logical discussions when it comes to politics in general.  With that in mind here is what I submitted to his blog regarding my thoughts and “race” and so called attitudes of “racism” directed toward our current President. 

The trouble with this discussion in that it depends upon not only the prospective and history each individual brings but the manner in which they view the world around them.

I accept that racism exists however do not see racism as the powerful impediment to progress that others give it. As you know nothing about me or I you, let me share a little. I am a divorced father for three children (14, 12 and 6) from my first marriage (I will be getting remarried – hopefully, next year) of thirteen years to a black woman.  I am currently in a committed relationship and we have one beautiful son who will turn two this month and another who will be joining us in September.  All of my adult life beyond my military service has been spent working in the non-profit social service community as a formerly licensed social worker and substance abuse counselor.

Because you included two me’ me photos (one from a local party official in San Diego – who was removed and other that was not sponsored by the  Republican Party) I believe that you are OK with extending what others associated with a political belief or party do in assessing the actions and belief of that actual party. Using this as a baseline, I would offer that race has been interjected into the term of Pres. Obama’s tenure but I believe that this occurred well before the election. Please don’t forget that it was Rev. Jesse Jackson who opined that candidate Obama was, “talking down to n*****s” and that he (Rev. Jackson) “want(ed) to cut his nuts off”. Keep in mind that it was Senate Leader Harry Reid who tried to offer a “weird” comment that because candidate Obama was, “light skinned and only spoke in a Negro dialect when he wants to” as a reason he would be palatable to “white America”. Also keep in mind the critique by self-professed, “gay liberal activist writer” David Ehrenstien who wrote that candidate Obama was, “the magic Negro”.

These things do not occur in a vacuum and while you make the observation that a clear racist strategy exists for Republicans (btw, I am neither a Republican or Democrat – neither party represents my views), I would disagree. Allowing those who agree with the party line the latitude to make such comments and “accepting” them as just being “honest” or making a “mistake” then attempting to feign outrage when those on the other side of the isle make such comments is, to me, the clear strategy. Racism or the calling of another “racist” is used as a shield to not only shut down debate on issues but to alienate and divide. What human would like to be called a “racist”?

Consider simply that it was Bill Maher who opined that he thought we would be getting a “real black President like Suge Knight” and instead we got “President Wayne Brady”. But the silence of the Democrat party was astonishing on his observations because, IMO, he is seen as “on our side” instead of being seen as ignorant and wrong, which he was.

For me the issue has become one of honesty and I do not see much truth in either side. As a military veteran and someone who adores history I have seen a good portion of the world and know that America, for all of our faults, have progressed further than any “white European” country. Name me one place that has elected minority (black, Latino, Asian, Women and so on) Mayors, Governors, Senators, Representatives and so on. Our neighbors to the north, No. Our closest friend, the United Kingdom, Not even close. We, America, have grown closer to the dream and promise of not just our Constitution and Bill of Rights but to the wonderful expression of freedom expressed in deTochville’s, “America”. Yet, we would rather be polarized for what we “are” in terms of ethnicity, religion and sexual orientation than we would to accept that while we will never all “get along” we are further and more advanced than most places on this earth. Electing and embracing a diversity of elected officials that is unparallel.

Pres Obama has, I believe, used race not as a means to “unite” us and to forward the ideal of judging one as an individual but to judge us as a “group”. It strikes me as odd that Pres. Obama once said that there existed no “red America or blue America” but only “America” and while his words were elegant and inspiring his actions were to willingly interjected himself into the “beer summit” calling the police “stupid” without knowing what occurred. Pres. Obama’s opining that, “if I had a son” regarding the Trayvon Martin / George Zimmerman case was, I feel, a clear example that first we must see each other not as individuals but as the ethnic identity was carry.

I can’t question the comment attributed by Sen. McConnell that his goal was to see Pres. Obama as a “one term leader” but would offer simply the truth – isn’t he suppose to feel / think that way if he truly believes the policies he advocates are best for the country? Sure it was stupid to say aloud but it is no worse than former Speaker Tip O’Neil writing in his book that whatever Pres. Reagan proposed was, “dead on arrival” once it hit his desk. Yet, in the case of Sen. McConnell it is “assumed” that the man married to an Asian woman is “racist”. How silly is that? Oh, should we also not look at the ad’s ran by Progress Kentucky that used racial slurs and photos of Mr. McConnell’s wife. Sure, they apologized (once they were caught – much like my six year old) but this was the same group, founded by Shawn Reilly and Curtis Morrison who bragged about recording outside of Sen. McConnell’s office and then turned the tape over to Mother Jones. Mr. Morrison, who maybe facing charges, was not some strange outsider but a man who attended at least one White House “activist” briefing. But “tolerance” is the mantra – well, that is unless one sits across the isle then all is fair, right? No – it should not be and yet that is exactly what we see.

I have no question that “racist” exist in both parties and that racism is a very real undercurrent throughout the world. Having been to the P.I., I can tell you the “racist” feelings that exist against non-Muslims and of children born to mixed-ethnic relationships. The same is true in Thailand and Japan. Having lived in North Carolina, Kentucky, South Carolina, Ohio and Alaska, I don’t question that I have seen ‘racial” divisions. I will say that in my experience dating and being married to a black woman, I never felt “racism’ more prevalent than I have in Toledo and Detroit. In the case of Toledo although I owned a home, I moved my family because of the openly racist attitude of the community. It strikes me as sad that not only do these attitudes exist but that we continue to, I believe, driven further away from one another simply to ensure political “power”. Imagine a white candidate or elected official making the comments attributed to Rep. Rangel (D-NY), that anyone who agrees with the “tea party” are “crackers” and nothing more than “Jim Crow”. 

Calling others “racist” has become a “shield” and at times a “sword” to wield power. I believe the same can be said for the so-called, “war on women”. Consider that Mr. Weiner remains in the race and as a father and a man in a committed relationship his behavior and treatment of women is appalling – yet, there he is. Let’s not forget Mayor Filtner and his treatment of women. But largely the “party” of “tolerance” is silent but to say that the actions were “inappropriate”. Nothing like understating the obvious, right?  It isn’t that there have not been (and will be in the future) Republicans who maybe bigoted against the advancement of Women and minorities (just as there have been and are Democrats) it is the “absolute” manner in which Pres. Obama and his party has sold the “War on Women” that “if your not with us, your against “women”, “minorities” or “the poor”.  Really, reasonable people are no longer able to agree?  Of course Republicans do this also but as Democrats continue to “preach” tolerance should they not also be asked to show it? 

You see, I think we could both continue to throw out antidotal stories about each party but the truth is that until both stop this will not end. It is my belief that Democrats, if they are who they say they are, must be the ones to “stop” this behavior from within the ranks of not just the party but from those who support and defend the positions they take. Yet, I don’t see this happening because until the day comes that “racism” can no longer be used as a sword to cut the “enemy” it will continue to be used to polarize the electorate and ensure “party” power, even if it is destructive for the American Society.

Consider the words of, Black Caucus Chair Emanuel Cleaver when speaking about the historically high rate of black unemployment as he said, “if not for Barrack Obama we would be marching on the White House”. Don’t forget that it was Andre Carson (D-IN) who opined that the “tea party” would like to see, “blacks hanging on a tree” or Maxine Waters (D-CA) who said that the “tea party” should, “go straight to hell”. Honestly, anyone that identifies with an idea of the tea party wants to lynch black people and should simply take up residence in hell?  Really?  But that is the thing now, IMO, identity politics that are not used to unite America but to polarize and divide in an effort to do nothing but ensure the maintained of power. Still the question is never asked – to what end? Does this help or hurt us as a nation and I believe in the long term it hurts us.

While you bring up the much-maligned “southern strategy” that was forwarded by Lee Atwater and others you fail to look at the historic gains fostered by the Republican Party for minorities in America. Should we deny the foundation of the GOP in our own State (Jackson, MI), which had attendees from our own home, Monroe County that had the direct goal of ending slavery? Should we forget the Emancipation Proclamation? Should we forget the record numbers of Republicans that voted for not just the Civil Rights Act but also the Voting Rights Act? Without them the Democrats (who held the Presidents office at the time) did not have the votes to pass either – including the vote of VP Gore’s father who voted against them. Should we forget the “Dixie-crats”, many of who were openly racist including the much loved former Klu Klux Klan Leader Robert Byrd (D-WV)?

Maybe ignoring the appointments or elections of Gen. Powell, Ms. Rice, SC Justice Thomas, Romualdo Pacheco (first Hispanic Gov. 1863), Hiram Revels (first black Senator, R-NC), John Lynch (former slave and Chair of 1884 RNC), Octaviano Larrazolo (first Hispanic Senator), Hiram Fong (first Asian Senator), SC Justice Earl Warren and many others would be the thing to do, right?  Republicans and whites who disagree with Pres. Obama are of course, “racist”, correct. Should we ignore that it was the 1871 Civil Rights Act supported by Republicans that “banned” the KKK? The 1875 Civil Rights Act that banned racial discrimination in public accommodations? How about forgetting that it was Pres. Eisenhower who ordered the end of segregation in Little Rock Schools? History is a “funny” thing and ought not be forgotten or re-written to fit an agenda and while I understand that the argument is, “well, those are not today’s Republican’s” to ignore this history is not just dishonest but a disservice to not only our country but creates an ignorance among our citizens that will prevent progress as I believe this “minimizing” of true history is done not to further progress but to maintain power. Again, to what end?

Yet – this is what “we” do now and not only as a public but what those who provide us the “news” lead us to do; we count by ethnicity or gender instead of results. Consider that the Huffington Post, a leading resource for politics, questioned the Republican House on the fact that “not one” leadership role when to a minority all the while forgetting that of the two black Senator’s in office today (Tim Scott R-SC, Mo Cowan D-MA) neither are in a leadership position – although in fairness both are “new” to office.

In your post to another writer you mention the Newsweek article that discussed the opinions of “black Americans” regarding race. I don’t question those personal “opinions” as each person has a right to feel the way they chose. However, it is just that – opinion.

Sure, racism exists but is it the systemic “issue” that we give it the weight of being? As the father to three children who are classified by the State, Federal Government and School District as “black” (regardless of my ethnicity or appearance and might I say that with specificity my son Knoah who is six and a little person will have difficulty convincing people that he “is” black regardless of what the “government” classifies him), I would differ.

I would argue that the issues are socio-economic and educational in nature and not based upon “race”. “Racism” does not explain the historically high rate of illiteracy, poor educational performance, crime and drug use in some majority black communities. No question that “racism” once had a more powerful impact but considering the upward mobility of a great number of blacks in America over the past 40 years it can only be seen as one “factor” or “variable” and not the “controlling variable”. To not question the impact and decline of education (causing diminished employable skills) in the black community is dishonest. Further to ignore the rate of criminal behavior and write it off simply as the cause of a “racist” system is not only dishonest but ignores the individual choice each person has to be the citizen they desire. Each individual must make a decision to do for themselves and those they love and while racism can and does make this difficult the off set of opportunity remains present. I believe, the more we tell people that things are “bad” the more they will see and believe them. Consider Oprah Winfrey who recently said she was treated wrong while in Europe because of her race. She has since retracted that after the store came out and said this was not true. If we wish to see something – we will find it.

One need only to look at the racial narrative we have been “sold” regarding the Zimmerman case – even though this was a man of Hispanic background who had mentored black children, dated black women, protested against the police and the treatment of a black man and was a registered Democrat who voted for Pres. Obama, he “must” be racist – even if the FBI found no evidence of a racial narrative in July 2012 and issued a report that said so. Yet, here we are with the NAACP and others calling for a civil rights investigation against Mr. Zimmerman and the creation of a public DOJ email ( asking the public to forward any information about “racial” incidents Mr. Zimmerman maybe involved in. Perception has overtaken reality in my view.

As a “white male” (actually, my background is pretty odd in that my grandfather was Cherokee and part of my family was considered “non-white European” by the US Census in 1930 – but, I look white, no question) former social worker I can’t tell you the number of times I have been subjected to the, “white boy” perceptions by the black community. It isn’t fair but it is reality. Think about CNN Host Don Lemon, a black man, who came out and said, “yes” we should not have black youths acting like hoodlums and “yes” we need to restore the black community. In exchange for his assessment he was not called “thoughtful” or “introspective” but rather an “uncle tom”. It is sad but that is the “sword / shield” mentality that has invaded America.

You ended the response by writing, “What I was having a hard time figuring out is how someone can simultaneously be a socialist and a corporate sellout; or a tyrant and a weakling. That was the nature of my criticism”. Forgive me for being skeptical but your “criticism” by beginning and focusing on the ethnicity of the President would never allow those questions to actually be highlighted because, again, racism is used as both a “sword and shield” and only polarizes. I believe you are intelligent enough to see that.

Attempting to answer your question, I can only say that my view of Pres. Obama is that he will do and say whatever is most efficient at keeping both him and his party in power. I imagine that is true for many elected officials but in his case we were “sold” that he would be different that “we were the ones we had been waiting for”. He has continued the tyrannical authority he spoke out against by accelerating the NSA spying program, use of drones to kill American Citizens in Yemen, prosecution of “whistleblowers” and the continuation of GITMO among others.

Pres. Obama, is a “weakling” (your words) because of his administrations lack of oversight or action regarding the IRS, NSA, BATF (fast and furious), Iran, Egypt and Syria.

I believe, Pres. Obama, is a “corporate sell-out” by his administrations actions regarding GE, John Corzine and the very real fact that we will not recover the monies provided to GM and Chrysler given through the bailout (which, btw, was started using TARP funds by Pres. Bush prior to leaving office).

I won’t go as far to call Pres. Obama a socialist because I do not believe he is. I believe his is an abhorrent opportunist. I do believe the lack of insight into the Health Care Reform Legislation has shown a poor ability to manage and or write legislation (consider, how many more “delays” must we have before we just honestly admit that it was not very well thought out?). I also find that the President has a blatant disregard for the Constitution and the order of law, even if it is his “keystone” legislation, if it will benefit him.

Consider why we are having the “postponement” of the employer mandate for health care reform during an election year along with the number of “waivers” granted – why? Really, the “planning” for this will take more than three years. No, it is opportunism 101 and it is odd that the health care reform legislation demands that no part can be taken out of the legislation, yet, we continue to “chip away” at timelines for implementation even when SC Justice Roberts stated that no one part of the bill could be removed.
The truth as I see it, is that neither Democrats nor Republicans in positions of power above the local level are actually concerned about the average American. Oh, I believe they play the game and act “concerned” but in truth – I almost see this as nothing more than “political professional wrestling”. They play a part (good guy / villain) and those parts are interchangeable depending on the audience.
So - is it possible to simply say, as a "white male" that I dislike the political positions of Pres. Obama and feel he is neither a good manager or a good President without being called a "racisit" and if not how can I explain to my oldest three childern that many in the world see thier father as a "racist".  SMH - we seem to have forgotten to judge by "content of ones character" and instead have reverted to "color of ones politics".  I guess Candidate Obama was wrong - there is a "red and blue" America and it seems to be getting worse. 


  1. IMHO, yes you can as a white male take issue with the political positions of President Obama and not be called a racist.

    That said, you don't gain the right to criticize him because of the color or his skin simply because he happens to hold political office.

    That IS the fundamental challenge that we face because we are not able to have honest discussions about prejudice in our country.

    It is also the fundamental challenge that we have in the country BECAUSE we are so divided politically. The gulf that separates the two parties is mostly scorched earth. Both parties have demonized the other. And all is fair. So you have a mostly white Republican Party suggesting that every critical comment about President Obama is labeled racist which allows the truly racist comments to also be labeled political. Then you have a multi-racial Democratic party suggesting that Republicans are the enemies of the poor and minorities even though it was Clinton who put an end to welfare and minority unemployment is still way higher under Obama than it was under Bush.

    I attribute our current struggles to last gasps of the Republican Southern Strategy which did have an overt racial component. That should sort itself out in the next couple of elections as it becomes clear that Republicans will have to change to remain competitive.

    The longer term danger, however, is that private money has warped our political system. There will be no substantive progress toward a real democracy until we figure out how to separate office holders from the money they have to raise in order to run for office.

  2. Part One (sorry I had to "break" this up Jeff but sadly the comment section only allows for so many words :-(. . .)


    The trouble is that all to often any criticism of Pres. Obama is quickly written off by those who we trust to give us the news as being nothing more than “racist” or motivated by “hate” – even if this isn’t the case. I don’t believe most who criticize Pres. Obama wish to do so because of his ethnicity and IMO those that do are quickly discovered. I have a pretty simple “litmus test” for such criticism and find that if someone is unable or unwilling to articulate “why, what and how (by offering alternatives)” they oppose in Pres. Obama (or any other elected official), that they are doing so simply because of personal dislike. Now, can I say it is “bigoted” with Pres. Obama – maybe sometimes but the truth is does it really matter if it is “bigoted” as that individual has shown a dislike of the individual? I don’t really think it does matter, as those are demons they will have to carry and not ones that I need to address if they are unwilling to change. Consider it this way – a few years ago I was in Milwaukee visiting a friend from the Military when I found myself in a car with him and his cousin (both of whom are black, btw). Jonathan (the cousin), then said to me as we passed the building were Jeffery Dahlmer lived that, “you know the media never reported honestly about him”. Knowing Jonathan was a police officer I was intrigued and thought, really what did they leave out? Jonathan than said, “you know, he was racist, right?” I was perplexed and replied that while that maybe true, the reality was that Dahlmer had murdered and ate 17 people and the fact that he may or may not be racist seemed to be pretty low on the list of “problems” he had. Jonathan response was, “yeah, I guess I see what your saying”. But still it reveals how we have been, IMO, condition to see things from a racial prism because of some very real past wrongs and some very unreal (IMO) current slights.

    As a veteran I was and remain bothered by our governments (i.e. Obama Administration) handling of Benghazi. When such an opinion is express one is given a list of “attacks” that occurred under Pres. Bush (seemingly forgetting that not a single ambassador was killed nor had one been killed since Pres. Carter’s administration) with the request reply of, “oh, you were not upset then”. Trouble is – heck yes I was!

    I am troubled by the DOJ’s response to Fast and Furious which ultimately has resulted in more than 1,900 weapons being released into Mexico along with the murder of Brian Terry (a Michigan Native) and more than 200 Mexican Citizens (per the Mexican Press). In this case the retort is that, “Operation Gun Runner” began under Pres. Bush so were you upset then”? Of course I would have been if the operation had resulted in the death of an American INS Agent or Mexican Civilians. Further the major difference is that in the case of “fast and furious” the Mexican Government was (according to them) unaware of the program. But – still it gets painted, as one must be “racist” to criticize Pres. Obama or AG Holder.

    I remain troubled by the administrations “lack of leadership” with Syria, Egypt and the continued creep of what the NSA may or may not be doing. Yet the retort is simply that “Bush signed the Patriot Act” and that somehow our “image” in the rest of the world has been “enhanced” because of our foreign under Pres. Obama. Well, to the first argument the truth is I disagreed with the Patriot Act under Bush and so too did Pres. Obama. The difference is that I can do nothing about it and Pres. Obama has expanded those policies if we are to believe the disclosures of Mr. Clapper and the “leaks” of Mr. Snowden. Regarding our “leadership” in the world – sadly, it seems our support of the Muslim Brotherhood has not given us the enhancement we were told it would.

  3. Part Two:

    I believe you are correct that we are unable to have an honest discussion of race / bigotry in America but I believe we would see the reason for this impediment differently. I harbor no racial animosity toward any group (although I will honestly admit that I have a predisposition given my military history and understanding of world events to question the legitimacy of the so-called “Muslim” leadership in many parts of the world – call me “skeptical” of about the “leadership” within the so-called “religion of peace” if you like and I will admit this is true. As individuals, I believe there exist no real issues but from what we have seen out of Afghanistan, Egypt, Turkey, Syria, Iran and so on I struggle with the issues of human rights that some “leaders” seem to support) based on ethnicity, sexual orientation or religion (minus my aforementioned “troubles” with Islam) yet expressing a concern that does not settle with the narrative some in the mainstream media present (think Ms. Maddow, Mr. Matthews and so on) and “viola”, I get painted as “bigoted”. It is an evil cycle and one that is tiring. Sure both Republicans and Democrats engage in such “charged” behavior and IMO they do so because it helps them maintain power.

    Your belief in the “southern strategy” is real but does not take into account the historical and factual demographic changes within the south. It is easy for us to think that the south is somehow still as “backwoods” as it once was but this is neither accurate nor appropriate. In truth as someone who has lived in North Carolina, Kentucky and been stationed in South Carolina, Georgia along with visiting Texas, Tennessee, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama I have seen first hand that the overt racism we are told these folks “carry” simply is not the case. One look at the changing demographic and social media of young American’s shows this to be a quickly dying philosophy. No question that those “hard core” folks will not go quietly but then again, giving them credit for greater power and reach is dishonest and intended, IMO, only to entrench and enable more power for the Democrat Party. One only needs to look at the polarization of communities in the so-called, “progressive north” so see that the “tolerance and acceptance” preached by many Democrats has really been excluding opposing viewpoints. As someone who has worked as a social worker within the courts of Detroit, Benton Harbor, Flint, Grand Rapids and Highland Park I can tell you first hand that this is an overriding principal and when one disagrees, if they are not minority, they are castigated as “bigoted”. As such, you quickly learn that it is best to “go along to get along”. The problem is that such things stifle dissent and different opinions and what a horrible thing that is.

    While you opine that the issue is “money” and the Republican entrenchment in policies that divide are you willing to examine the benefit that Democrats have gained by such enrichment also? Just imagine that since 1933 Michigan has had a “Dingell” in the seat currently held by John Dingell (his father from 1933 – 1955 and John since that time). Imagine John Conyers has been continually reelected to one of the most racially segregated districts in Michigan (if not America) since 1967 and during that time the “progress” of his “district” has not just been abysmal but tragic. Unemployment, education, poverty have all increased. Understand I don’t believe “they” are the cause but in truth after this many years of “leadership” coupled with this many years of “decline” they clearly are not the “answer”.

  4. Part Three:

    Money is an issue in politics and I am not a fan of the Citizen’s United decision but find it laughable that while Democrats rant against the dreaded “Koch Brothers” those same Democrats embrace OFA, Soro’s and among others. It is, I believe, the ultimate show of hypocrisy and moral superiority which seems to claim; “us good, them bad”. Really – how silly is that.

    I find it refreshing that you acknowledge that Pres. Clinton was responsible for welfare reform and that minority unemployment is higher now under Pres. Obama than it ever was under Pres. Bush. While I understand that these are complex issues the truth is that few Democrats will even admit this and when they do it will often be mentioned with a caveat on how this is all a result of the “Bush Policies” (the very same tax cuts Pres. Obama has maintained) or Pres. Clinton simply responding to the Republican’s who took control of the house and following Gov. Thompson (R-WI) lead and that he “really did not want these changes”. Consider that for a second and understand that such an attempt is not only an effort to ignore responsibility but to place “blame” elsewhere. It is sad, IMO, but this is where we find ourselves.

    While you attribute the position we are in to the Republican “southern strategy”, I see it differently. I see that while this as a horrible policy and did lead to disaffection by many voters; I also see that such policies (or the perception of such) have been embarrassed by Democrats as a way to promote “us v. them” even if those policies are no longer a part of the philosophy. One can’t explain the election of Gov. Jindal, Gov. Haley, Rep. West the recent change of party by Elbert Guillroy (LA), Rep. Rubio, Sen. Cruise or the appointment of Sen. Scott if such a strategy were still a controlling influence. Imagine that while the Republican party is “castigated” as “bigoted” by many in the media (see; Maddow, Matthews and so on) they do so ignoring Sec. Rice, Gen. Powell among others.

    Anyhow the truth is that until (and if) we can become honest as a society and acknowledge that as much as some people are bigoted there exist another group (equally if not more powerful) who benefit from the promotion of “bigotry” as a means to maintain power we will not reach the goal of being a better nation nor will we be the “one America” that Pres. Obama promised. Instead we will be the “red America” and “blue America” that Sen. Obama told us does not exist.