01 November 2013

“It would kill them to say anything gracious”

From May, journalist Andrew Sullivan analyzed the right-wing response to President Barack Obama like this:

Every now and again, an event happens that makes you see much more clearly how divorced from its previous ideals the GOP has become. Obama’s speech at Morehouse was something every conservative has always asked of African-American public figures. We have in Obama a black man raised by a single mother who is now, as even his critics acknowledge, a dedicated father to two daughters, whom he obviously adores. If the right is concerned about the black family, they should be falling over themselves to celebrate what Obama’s family is, and means. But they don’t. It would kill them to say anything gracious about this president.

Drudge yesterday cherry-picked only those parts of the speech that could divide people racially, only those moments when Obama dared to recognize the discrimination and difficulties of young black men – before urging them to overcome them. There’s a racial nastiness here that decent voters still hear and that Republicans have deployed constantly. Their historic refusal to cooperate even one iota with the first black president betrays, it seems to me, a staggering lack of grace and historical sense.

But as with everything Obama says, the speech balanced calls for equality with an admonition that personal responsibility is the inextricable complement to equality.
Most people suffering from OIP Derangement Syndrome insist that race has nothing to do with their politics. Often they also deny the effect and very big legacy of racial discrimination in American society. They deny the significance of the recurrent racism of right-wing rhetoric for the past few years. Some attack anyone who acknowledges those facts.

Such a response looks like a strong indicator that race is a factor in those people’s political thinking, however strong their denial. And when those critics of the President abandon their established positions and stated values, as Sullivan describes, that’s an even clearer sign of forces at work deep within their minds.

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