WITHOUT QUESTION, RACISM FUELS THE IRE OF MANY OBAMA-HATERS
Illustration: Chris Hondros/Getty images
Bamboozled by Obama? -- As illustrated by this July 2008 New Yorker Magazine cover, even prior to his election, racial stereotyping engulfed Obama.
"The Muslim world sees Barack Obama as a son of Islam ... I can't say categorically (that he's not)." - Rev. Franklin Graham on MSNBC's "Morning Joe"
"We have to be very strong. That means bringing up Rev. Wright. That is not an old story." - Donald Trump in a recent interview with the ultra-conservative Newsmax magazine
There's perhaps no clearer illustration of the disconnect between naked racism and stark reality -- or, the connection between primal prejudice and utter ignorance -- than the fable promoted by President Barack Obama's most ill-bred critics about our President being a Muslim who spent the 20 years prior to his election attending religious services at Rev. Jeremiah Wright's Christian church. Wouldn't it be nice if one of these critics produced a Christian cleric who considers Allah his "personal lord and savior?" Or, perhaps someone claiming to be a devout follower of Islam who pursues that faith through the teachings of a Christian preacher?
We all know it will never happen. That's one reason why recent news of an aborted attempt to again raise an ipso facto argument about President Obama's politics and Rev. Wright's black liberation theology seems so utterly irrational even for certain folks who simply hate Obama's guts. After all, the principals involved are Barack Obama and Rev. Wright; not Malcolm X and Rev. Albert Cleage . Cleage, of Detroit, Michigan, was a Christian pastor with whom Malcolm was closely allied during the 60s. Malcolm, then a member of the Elijah Muhammad's Nation of Islam, was a raised as a Seventh-Day Adventist prior to his conversion to Islam.
This ignorant fantasy of the Obama-haters about a "Muslim Christian" running this country brings to mind a fragment of a recent conversation on African-American culture I inadvertently overheard. The part I caught was: ""well, where do you think those stereotypes come from?" Nearly instinctively, I thought: "Fox News Channel." But there was nothing Freudian about this reaction. If anything, it was far more intuitive. What's Freudian probably relates more to that which underlies the findings of yet another recent study -- by Farleigh-Dickenson University -- which reinforces a consensus arrived at through several previous studies ; that in many respects, the average Fox News channel viewer has the cognitive capability of a cardboard box.
Though this isn't exactly breaking news, some of the findings of this particular study do seem a bit beyond perplexing. For example, the scores racked up by habitual Fox viewers on domestic topics -- stuff that perhaps even zombies should know -- were actually lower than the median score achieved by people who don't watch news at all.
Now comes an irony. Recently, at my mention of President Obama singing "Let's Stay Together," an acquaintance sort of instinctively let out: "I can't stand Obama." This was a stunner because the assumption was that he's thoroughly apolitical. Regardless of the candidate or the issue, this guy never votes.
He was asked if he watches "Fox News" and though he replied in the affirmative, it was later determined that he actually views general programming on a local Fox affiliate (like The Simpsons or American Idol). But he never watches the Fox channel that matters; the spiteful "fair and balanced" network of Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly and a host of other journalistic frauds. So, as it turns out this guy doesn't even know that he doesn't watch Fox News. Yet he's likely to score higher than someone who watches the Fox News Channel every day.
As this incident seems to illustrate, you don't necessarily have to watch the Fox News Channel to dislike President Obama. However, it sure seems like the place to go if you want to learn to hate him. And that's something that I gather is linked to Fox News Channel's "dumber than a doorknob" viewer demographic which the Farleigh-Dickenson study again uncovered. But it wouldn't be "fair and balanced" to fail to acknowledge that "dumb," isn't exactly how Fox viewers were identified in the study: "least informed" was the description used.
While one can only speculate how hard-core Fox viewers would react to that bit of politically-correct terminology, it's hardly conjecture to presume that at the very least, only the least informed would give credence to the aborted "re-swift boating" if you will, of President Obama. It was to be a multi-million-dollar plan -- underwritten by the owner of the Chicago Cubs -- to resurrect Rev. Wright as a campaign issue. As is generally the case when it comes to anti-Obama agit-prop, racially-motivated or otherwise, this endeavor would rely heavily on the immense network of right-wing conservative media outlets including of course, the place to turn for blatant liberal distortions and distinctive WTF-did-they-say?-style presentations of over-the-top hyperbole -- Fox News.
A Racist Renaissance?
It should be pointed out that Fox News Channel is not the primary focus here. But its influence on social and political discourse in America and abroad is far too significant to be overlooked, particularly when the topic is racism . It's also worth noting that media racism is not a problem struggled with by Fox alone. And while it seems to run rampant among Republican social conservatives, one can safely assume that racial prejudice doesn't discriminate on the basis of political party or philosophy. What is inarguable however is that since the election of this President, both the presence of racism within the GOP and Fox's contributions to racial pot-stirring have grown so overt that denying it would be nothing short of delusional.