I earned a bachelor of science in journalism, so I think that I’m qualified enough to ask that question.
Recently, former President Jimmy Carter stated what those of us Americans who are intelligent and honest and sane already knew: that much of the opposition to President Barack Obama is rooted in racism.
This is the complete text of one of the first news stories that I read on Carter’s statement, from MSNBC:
In an interview with NBC’s Brian Williams, former Democratic President Jimmy Carter attributed much of the conservative opposition that President Obama is receiving to the issue of race.
“I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man,” Carter said.
[Carter added:] “I live in the South, and I’ve seen the South come a long way, and I’ve seen the rest of the country that share the South’s attitude toward minority groups at that time, particularly African-Americans.”
Carter continued, “And that racism inclination still exists. And I think it’s bubbled up to the surface because of the belief among many white people, not just in the South but around the country, that African-Americans are not qualified to lead this great country.
“It’s an abominable circumstance, and it grieves me and concerns me very deeply.”
OK, now Carter very most likely made his comments because the incident in which Repugnican U.S. Rep. Addison Graves (a.k.a. “Joe”) Wilson (of first-to-secede South Carolina) yelled “You lie!” at President Obama during Obama’s nationally televised address to Congress on the topic of health-care reform was still quite fresh in the national memory.
Now, nowhere in Carter’s comments do you see Carter state that anyone who opposes Obama’s health-care reform plans is actually just a racist. Carter doesn’t focus on whether or not one agrees with or opposes what the wingnuts like to call “Obamacare.”
Carter clearly states that it is the “intensely demonstrated animosity” that smells racist to him.
Again, this is what Carter actually said: “I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man.”
What Carter meant, I believe, is that it was the highly unprofessional, disrespectful, beyond-the-pale act of any U.S. representative, perhaps especially a white man from the South, yelling “You lie!” at President Obama that points to racism — not Wilson’s or anyone else’s opposition to Obama’s health-care reform plans.
Yet somehow many if not most journalists have rewritten history to indicate that Carter actually said that if you oppose Obama’s health-care reform plans, you’re a racist.
There is this, in full, from The Associated Press today:
Former President Bill Clinton says he doesn’t think racism is a principal factor in resistance to President Barack Obama’s plan for overhauling health care.
Interviewed [today] on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Clinton said “there’s no question” racism exists in some outbursts in recent months. But he also said he believes “if he were not an African-American, all of the people who were against him on health care would still be against him. They were against me, too.”
Clinton said that “I sympathize with” former President Jimmy Carter’s feeling that racism accounts for the strenuous opposition to Obama, but said “that’s not what’s driving” Obama’s critics. Clinton said: “What’s driving them is they don’t want health care.”
WTF? Who truly doesn’t want health care? Was Clinton being flippant?
I’m not sure which of them had it wrong, Bill Clinton or the AP writer — or both of them — but again: Carter never said that if you oppose Obama’s health-care reform plan then you must be a racist.
However, let’s be clear: from allegations that “B. Hussein Obama” is an “Islamofascist” sympathizer to allegations that he’s a “socialist” (oh, I wish that he were!) to allegations that he is not an American citizen, the real problem that the vast majority of those who spew forth such allegations have with Obama is that he’s not white.
And if I had to put my money on it, I’d bet that the majority of those who attend “tea parties” bitching and moaning about taxes (even though hundreds of billions of American taxpayers’ dollars have gone to the war profiteers, such as Dick Cheney’s Halliburton, via the bogus Vietraq War) and bitching and moaning about the “socialist” “takeover” of health care are using these issues only as fronts for the fact that they’re just pissed off that their guy, John McCainosaurus, lost the November 2008 presidential election to Obama — whether racism has been the main factor in their preference for the McCainosaurus-Palin-Quayle ticket over the Obama-Biden ticket or not.
But back to my original point: Journalists need to get it right.
“Former President Bill Clinton says he doesn’t think racism is a principal factor in resistance to President Barack Obama’s plan for overhauling health care,” the AP story above begins.
Who in the hell ever said that it was?
Certainly not Jimmy Carter.
Let’s not let the national dialogue on race and racism be shut down because we first misquote luminaries like Jimmy Carter and then attack our own misquotes — or because we allow others to do that. The national dialogue is too important for us truly patriotic Americans to allow that to happen.
Speaking of tea parties, I have to share this ’toon with you:
That ’toon is from murraythenut.com. Many (if not most…) of the ’toonist’s ’toons are just scatological, but his political ’toons are great. Here’s another:
I love Murry the Nut.
Anyway, finally, yes, Bill Clinton is correct that the wingnuts opposed health-care reform when he was president, too. That’s historical fact. However, never did a stupid white male member of Congress yell “You lie!” or anything else like that while Clinton was giving a nationally televised address to Congress.
Ask yourself why it is that nothing like that happened to Bill Clinton but happened to Barack Obama.
And finally finally, I hope that Clinton was only being facetious when he said that the opponents of Obama’s health-care reform plans don’t want health care.
Of course they want health care. It’s that the right-wing noise machine, funded by millions and millions of corporate dollars, wants the masses to believe that anything that Obama proposes that isn’t good for the corporatocrats and plutocrats is “socialist” (which means “anti-American”) and is even anti-Christian.
These plutocrats/corporatocrats and their wingnutty mouthpieces like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh wrap themselves in the American flag and in the shroud of Turin to the extent that they have convinced millions of easily duped Americans that to oppose the stupid-white-male power structure — such as to wish that health care should be available to all Americans, and that no one should profit obscenely from Americans’ pain and suffering, as is the case under the current wealth care system — is to oppose the nation and patriotism and puppies and kittens and even God and Jesus Themselves.
We, the people, elected Barack Obama as president. Those Americans who are so stupid as to support the plutocrats and corporatocrats and their cheerleaders (like Beck and Limbaugh and Fox “News”) — just like the chickens supporting Colonel Sanders — are the minority.
We, the majority, need to ignore the loud-mouthed minority, and we, the majority, need to proceed with the business that we, the majority, elected President Barack Obama to do.