Thursday, September 17, 2009

Right There! Next To The Couch!

“The outrage we see in America has nothing to do with race. It has everything to do with the policies that he [President Obama] is promoting.”
House Minority Leader John Boehner
Yeah. And I'm the King of Siam. This is why I can't be a politician. I could never make a statement like that with a straight face. The idea that there isn't a single person among those protesting the President's policies who isn't also (or actually) opposed to their being a non-white person in the White House is as patently ludicrous as the idea that not a single black person voted for him out of wanting to see just that.

But Boehner is a politician, and a senior one, and one doesn't get that far in American politics without knowing when a flattering, if obvious, falsehood is better than a truth that people don't want to hear about themselves. Or, as is more likely the case, makes them look bad in front of others. Representative Boenher's disingenuousness in this matter is partially driven by the idea that there is something deeply wrong with opposing the President because of the color of his skin. (Aside: Barack Obama is not African-American in the same way that most blacks in the United States are African-American - i.e., as a result of their ancestors having been brought or coming to this country some generations back from Sub-Saharan Africa. The President is African-American by virtue of the fact that one of his parents was African, and the other {a white} American. It is likely this difference that accounts, in part, for his worldview and, frankly is political success. The way many people understand him to be African-American speaks to the use of the term as primarily a euphemism for skin color.) As much as the Conservative/Republican stereotype abhors Political Correctness, it demands that Boehner not expose that constituency to criticism. Thus, he publicly pretends that overt racism is a thing of the (distant) past, rather than 'fessing up, and basically saying “Yeah? What of it? There are people who dislike the President because of the color of his skin, but we shouldn't let that distract us from the real policy differences that people have with him.”

Of course, such a frank assessment would be pounced upon (and surely taken out of context) by the likes of the Huffington Post, which is really too bad. As long as people refuse to acknowledge the elephant (no pun intended) in the room, it can't be lead outside, and thus the space remains uncomfortably crowded.

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