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Opinion: Don't Like Obama? Don't Be Racist

Tuesday, June 05, 2012 - 10:06 AM

Mitt Romney and Barack Obama (Getty Images)

"Our race has been damaged. Sometimes to get back up to the level of respect and love, you've gotta stick with your own and build a certain amount of strength and community within yours so that other people can respect and honour your traditions."

The above was a comment made by a white preacher discouraging interracial relationships. "I disagree with them [interracial relationships]. It's a lack of self-love. It's a problem."

George W. Bush invited him to the White House in 2006 causing the predictable backlash.

But the preacher wasn't done: "every time we step out with some woman it's setting an example for our daughters and it's also representing something for our mothers. If you can't really love your own, how can you really love others?"

Loving your own. A lack of self-love when you date outside your race. The damaged race. These are vile, outside the mainstream opinions. Polls frequently show that upwards of 90 percent of Americans of all races approve of interracial marriage.

Of course the comments weren't made by any white preacher and Bush certainly didn't invite a bigot like this to the White House. It was rapper Common and the invitation was extended by the Barack Obama White House.

I'm not here to re-fight last year's controversy. I am an admitted fan of Common's music and yet I thought it was a travesty that someone openly racist in this way was allowed to visit our White House.

My point today is to illustrate how touchy race and charges of racism remain for white people and why backwards comments by pollsters such as the ones featured in Anna Sale's article about racism and voting should be discounted. (I want to note I'm a huge fan of Anna's and don't blame her for reporting on a meme).

According to Brown University political scientist Michael Tesler,  "About one in five white Americans report opposing or somewhat opposing interracial dating, and since Obama’s election, these voters are more likely to vote Republican for the first time."

This is interesting right off the bat for three reasons:

1) 80 percent of Americans are ok with interracial dating. That's an astoundingly high number. Try getting 80 percent of Americans to agree on anything else. Gay marriage? 50/50. Abortion? 60/40. But interracial marriage is essentially a landslide in favor.

2) Let's assume that the 20 percent figure is correct and 1 in 5 white people oppose interracial relationships. Would it be surprising to learn that the numbers are only slightly lower for black people? That's right, 15 percent of black people oppose interracial marriage. One of them even got an invite to the White House. Actually, make that two of them. Common and Jill Scott are famous and open about their opposition yet few pollsters seek to find the trend of black people voting Democrat for the first time because there is a black candidate. Isn't that exactly the kind of racism they're implying is happening with white voters?

3) If these people "are more likely to vote Republican for the first time" that would mean that they were voting Democrat, third party or not voting before Obama's election. There was no evidence of that in the 2010 election. In fact, some of the biggest changes in that election were that Obama voters were having second thoughts about the party of the man they elected just two years prior. Did they suddenly become racists? See these stories for more: "Republican candidates siphoned off 12 percent of women who voted for Obama in 2008" and Previous Obama voters were disappointed in him and didn't vote.

Pollsters can tell the story they want to tell with their numbers. And "white people are racist" is always a convenient one to tell, especially when he have a flailing president beloved by the very college professors who translate these polls. The explanation can't be as simple as Obama isn't doing the job well, it has to be White People Hate Him Because He's Half Black. The numbers don't support it but that doesn't seem to matter at all.

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Comments [4]

Why I am with the Republicans
* * *
First, I am with big control of government in everything. Because of lack of regulations, the quality of American products is much worse than those made in the European Union or in Japan.
Not only that I want government control in medical care, but I want a system like in Canada, Great Britain, France or Germany: free medical care from the taxes we pay.
I want for the rich to be taxed more, and stop the hoax with lower taxes per stock market profits.
So, why I am Republican?
* * *
1. I came legally in this country from the first day, via Diversity Lottery Visa program. All my background was already checked in my native country, including if I had problems with police or AIDS.
So, what the Obama administration did? They cancelled this whole program, because "it allows terrorists to enter in the U.S." Thanks! But they allow people who entered illegally to settle their records.
* * *
2. The foreign doctors, at the end of their J1 visa, have to return to their own country for at least 2 years, before being allowed to return to the U.S. The U.S. government is reasoning that these doctors have to help the medical system of their countries with what they learned here. Now, another brainchild of this administration: They allowed only for the foreign doctors from Africa to remain here after the end of the J1 visa. Why only for the doctors from Africa? There is no need for medical doctors back in Africa? This looks like bias to me.
* * *
Regards.

Sep. 06 2012 10:11 PM
Jack Jackson from Central New Jersey

@Nixonfan - Why would you be a fan of a man who actively worked to scuttle the 1968 Paris Peace Talks in order to extend the Vietnam War in order to gain the presidency? LBJ knew about Nixon's treason but wouldn't reveal it because he didn't want to reveal that he learned of the duplicity thru an illegal wiretap. He also didn't want to appear to be taking sides in the election. We can only wonder what history the country would have if LBJ had acted differently. Reagan [thru surrogates] also bargained with an enemy in order to win an election. Detecting a pattern? Try this: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/04/25/9-revelations-from-robert-draper-s-do-not-ask-what-good-we-do.html

@Karol - Less than 50 years ago, many states had criminal sanctions for miscegenation. Calling Obama 'half-black' is creating a racial category that did not exist throughout the country's history. "Half-African" would be accurate. Very few American blacks are "all black", that is 100% genetically African. And a lot of American whites are all European.

Race mixing -- and its acceptance (or rejection) as a valid mode to express romantic love -- is an unseemly method for gaining votes.

Cut it out.

Jun. 09 2012 01:05 AM
Nixonfan from Wellsville, PA

In the old days, identity politics for white people meant ethnic vs WASP. Today, due to the increasing diversity of our society, identity politics increasingly means minority vs white. What is interesting is that racial identity increasingly trumps class-consciousness among whites of any ethnicity. The FDR coalition's appeal to whites was class-based (again, ethnics vs WASP). The party included northern blacks and southern white supremacists. Today, the Democratic party has no room for the white working class of any region or ethnicity. The GOP is increasingly the party of the white working class. Obama only makes this worse by continually playing the race card. FDR, HST and JFK must be rolling in their graves.

Jun. 05 2012 05:13 PM
Karol from NYC

I should have elaborated more on point 1 above: 80% of Americans support interracial marriage. Pollsters are telling us they found those 20% that don't, examined their voting records and found that some portion of them aren't voting Democrat like they used to because Obama is half-black. I'd like to see some more statistics on this because it seems like they'd have a tiny segment of the population to study and it's doubtful they could make proclamations based on this small number. Not that that's stopping them, obviously.

Jun. 05 2012 11:55 AM

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