Robert Ganshorn

White Racism and Barack Obama

Filed By Robert Ganshorn | August 05, 2008 1:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Barack Obama, patriotism, Racism

Ordinarily I am pretty happy to delete stuff in my inbox without comment to the sender if I think that it is just junk that has been forwarded to death. I even had a YouTube forwarding session/intervention with one friend who thought it was awful that Obama was not hand on heart in the middle of a Iowa farm field even though the others on the stage were not facing the flag, but the audience for the cameras with their hands over their hearts. The YouTube video clearly showed Obama singing along with the national anthem, but that was not good enough for some.

In all the continuing rumble about how Obama is "different" in religion or practice of patriotic observance various strange things have been said and done by various GOP groups interlaced with groups that have names like: "White Pride World Wide."

Obama Loves America Like OJ loved Nicole

Well, this time I received a mailing with all one hundred plus forwarding email addresses to my inbox with the title:

Obama 'explains' why he doesn't salute the American Flag

This piece was attributed to LTG Bill Ginn ASAF retired. He has denounced it as untrue personally on "The Truth Cops" citing his own experience at assisting in integration of the Air Force Leadership School and his great respect for the Tuskeegee airmen with whom he has worked. The general has further decried the use of his name by some one lacking the guts to use their own.

Referencing the general's outrage, and linking to the site, I also sent the following to all who received this email from a single sender:

I think that it is time to admit what truly bothers you about Barack Obama. Instead of half truths and unsupported myths why don't you admit it? Why don't you have the honest with yourselves to admit that you would rather have a Caucasian? Why don't you form a party designed around not be inclusive?

The obvious fact is that you wouldn't like Colin Powell either. There will be a minority president someday soon. Would you prefer that it be a heavily indoctrinated polarizing candidate or are you suspicious of a man who was raised by his family overseas? John McCain was born overseas on a military base in, as I recall, the Panama Canal Zone. He was a Navy brat who traveled the world and was exposed to other cultures. What are you afraid of...exactly?

When Americans take it upon themselves to determine or suggest that someone is not patriotic or "American Enough" to be president it is reminiscent of a very dark time in our history where:

"Irish need not Apply"
"Jews Dogs and Niggars on the back of the bus"
"Roman Catholics are a pawn of a foreign potentate"
"Segregation Now, Segregation Forever"

We are a nation totally of immigrants. Now if minorities frighten you so you have options, but they are not good ones. You can give the country back to the Indians we stole it from, or you can do you best to be true believers in the power of an inclusive republic.

If you were to discuss issues rather than dance around skin color you would be forced to ask yourself the one and only important question surrounding the campaign. Ask yourself if you are better off now than you were before Bush II came to office. Be honest with yourself, can you say you are better off or the country is better off? Can you say you are better off with Mr. Harvard "Skull and Bones" or would you prefer the fellow who was editor of the Harvard Law Review with the "foreign" name Obama.

Would you prefer a repeat of the C student (John McCain admits to be fifth from the bottom in his graduating class) or would you prefer a graduate with honors? Would you prefer a gent who admits he doesn't know a lot about the economy? If so, John McCain is your man and he is so very Caucasian he has the skin cancers to prove it and would be the oldest man ever to become president of our country. Somehow, considering the challenges of this time, I do not find that comforting. I also do not find it comforting that he does not know how to use the internet. If you are old enough to remember the last four years of the Eisenhower presidency it should bring you no comfort as well to imagine a chief executive impaired by what can only be called "drift."

I have always flown the American Flag, but patriotism is about deeds and not appearances. A flag pin is not a flag, but it has become a symbol for all the talking heads who have displayed a false patriotism while sending YOUR money to Haliburton Corporations and various "war" related no bid blind contracts that YOU are paying ten Billion dollars a month to support. Your social security, your domestic tranquility, your choice, but make it on real issues.

Interestingly none of these one hundred plus people have mailed me back.

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I believe it's playing a major role in why this election is tied right now. It was also a major topic of discussion at the recent Blogging While Brown conference as well.

If Barack Obama were a white male named Barry Owens with the same qualifications and his wife Michelle had blond hair and blue eyes along with his two daughters, not only would the US media be going gaga over 'The New Kennedys', he'd have a double digit lead in the polls right now.

Markos and the gang at Daily Kos wouldn't be spouting that 'withhold our donations' crap and some of the bitter Hillary supporters wouldn't be openly takling about supporting John McLame.

But since it's the brother doing this, drawing huge crowds at rallies, speaking intelligently and thoughtfully on many issues and getting rave reviews overseas with foreign leaders, while the white male candidate inarticulately bumbles and stumbles through speeches and is reduced to ad hominem attacks on his opponent instead of touting what he supports, some peeps are drinking hateraid for obama in 55 gallon drums.

And that's in our own party.

And it makes me and other Obama supporters other extremely nervous that the best qualified man for the presidency in a generation may not get it.

William D. Lindsey William D. Lindsey | August 6, 2008 10:50 AM

There's no way around it: race is THE factor in many voters' decision-making process about this election.

Sad commentary on where we are as a nation now.

My big hope if Obama is elected is that he will help to foster a national dialogue on race and other issues, in which we can talk honestly and respectfully across the lines that divide us, without resorting to the tactics of demonization and marginalization that have placed us in the situation in which we now find ourselves.

And, sad to say, those tactics have played a key role not just on the right, but also among those of us who call ourselves progressive, for far too long. We, too, are responsible for fragmenting the discussion and gnawing away at each other other when we have micro-ideological differences about how our own brothers and sisters see the issues.

I find it interesting that you, Robert

Perhaps I should not call it "Black racism" but instead "Black chauvanism" --- the idea that Obama should be elected simply so that America will have had at least one Black president. But having a Black president could be bad if that Black person makes a bad president. (It could happen: After all, so many white guys have turned out to be bad presidents, haven't they?)

I support Barack Obama because I think he will be an exceptional president, a sea change for the country, similar to the way that JFK was. In other words, I would vote for Obama even if he happened to have an appearance such that he could claim to be white (and, genetically, he is as much one as the other). Voting for this candidate because he is Black or that candidate because he is white is just two sides on the same coin of racism.

Wow, something screwed up when I posted the above comment.

The first paragraph should have read:

I find it interesting, Robert, that you chose the term "white racism" and not just "racism" in the title of your post. Is "Black racism" an issue that we are even allowed to mention?
Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | August 6, 2008 9:21 PM

I should say that this is just one of many emails I have received. I used the particular phrase "White Racism" because it is they who have been most obvious in this arena.

"Obama loves America like OJ loved Nicole" speaks volumes.

Certainly Black racism exists. I knew that it would exist when I was in the second grade and 20% of my classmates were Black. Yet somehow two thirds of the time anyone was "paddled" it was them. How long do you oppress people and expect them not to prefer people who do not oppress them back? Hence, Black racism.

Racism is where the ignorant among us flee as a knee jerk reaction to losing on issues. And I would call Barack Obama fully qualified to be president and the candidate of my party. I hope that he will become a peacemaker throughout the world as well as within the United States.

Republicans have just been handed an attack angle on a silver platter to appeal to their racist base. They're going to do whatever they can to highlight it (liberals have blogs, conservatives have chain emails... kinda tells you where we all are on the technology spectrum).

Doesn't mean he won't win or that he shouldn't have been nominated. Just means that we should know what we're working against.

How long do you oppress people and expect them not to prefer people who do not oppress them back? Hence, Black racism.

Although this statement does make sense, I think we must be careful when explaining the roots of Black racism not to justify it. Understanding it and tolerating it are two different things.

Whites are expected to do whatever internal housekeeping they need to do to embrace racial equality. I think Blacks, despite their unfortunate history in the nation, should be held up to the same standard.

I often hear statements from Blacks, even from Black leaders, that imply or assume that the majority of whites are still racist. I disagree --- I feel confident that 50 years after the 1960's, this country has progressed to the point that the majority of whites are not functionally racist --- meaning at a minimum, that they know how to work with Blacks in the workplace and treat them equally (including pay and promotion) and even to work with them comfortably (most of the time) and enjoyably. I think whites should be given credit for this progress --- even after it is rightfully pointed out that these should have been the attitudes we should have had from the start.

This is not to say that the legacies of racism do not continue to operate in the Black population. Clearly, they do. But these problems cannot be addressed with optimum effectiveness if we are not willing to evaluate the prevalent attitudes of one race and the other without some accuracy. Blacks do not want to be characterized by the worst among them, and neither do whites.

Bobs Friend | August 8, 2008 11:21 AM

Maybe this guy's hysterical email rant didn't get any replies was that too many of the recipients have heard this kind of wingnut paranoia before and have no more use for it.

If the GOP wants to derail Obama's campaign once and for all, they'll find a way to push this idea that all white voters not voting for Obama are motivated by nothing but racism every chance they get. While many of Obama's more fanatical followers will buy into this bilge -- after all, it makes them feel so much more righteous by comparison and involves taking no risks or even thinking too much -- the "opposition equals racism" schtick will mostly be a stirring sermon preached to an undiscerning choir. The rest of us had more than enough of self-righteous attempts to bully us into marching in lockstep a long time ago.