When Barack Obama became the President of the United States in 2008 many r here in the "Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave" thought that America had finally turned a page on racism. From the liberal pulpits came the highfalutin declaration of a post-racial America. And the conservatives told the world: "see, we're not so bad after all." For a very brief moment in time people dared to believe that this was true and that a brave new America awaited.
When the euphoria of the "Obama Miracle" quickly waned and the realities of daily life set in, the old racism bogey returned with a vengeance. You see the problem with entrenched, institutionalized racism is that it is in the American DNA and only years and years of enlightened breeding might wash away this ugly chromosome. The reality is that America and Americans have not had a genuine conversation on racism -- far less confronted it.
Today, the dialogue about racism has not even started and America is not willing to once and for all to lay to rest this stultifying millstone that keeps dragging the society ever backwards. America has pretended that racism is a thing of the past and technological and social enlightenment has made this a relic of the 20th century.
But the truth is that American racism is a tough nut to crack especially when you have a group of people willing to play the ostrich and bury their heads in the social sands of time. And while we routinely rail against those who send out racist barbs on the airwaves, or in polite society, we tend to forget that racism has always been a part of politics, in particular the politics of the Republican Party.
So this illusion of a color-blind society free of racism is just that -- an illusion. Unless America grows up, become mature, then racism will always be with us. Socio-economic and political equality is still deferred. Racism is bred by our touted "American exceptionalism" that is daily drummed in and inculcated in the minds of the young that they are somehow better than all other humans on planet earth. It is reinforced by the stupid political pandering and injudicious pronouncements that are now part of this wacky campaign season and jargon.
All of that only helps to underscore the fact that the illusion of a post-racial America comes with a number of serious issues that include a legacy of hatred, an encouraged belief that whites are born superior to Blacks, and that "white is always right." It can be seen in the snide apology of Governor Rick Perry and his sheepishly lame explanation and excuses for his family's hunting lodge called "Niggerhead."
Today it can be seen in the unbelievable ignorance and disingenuous statement by Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum who said to a 99% white audience that "I don't want to make black people's lives better by giving them somebody else's money; I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money." The inference here is that Black people depend on white (other people) money to exist. That Black people are losers, lazy and beggars. For his white audience this coming from a man who may be president is "the gospel truth" -- Black people are inferior to "us" and therefore to be treated differently.
Then it was Newt Gingrich's turn. He said in New Hampshire that he was going to tell the NAACP that Black people should demand paychecks instead of food stamps. Again this coded racist message infers that all Blacks -- or the majority of them -- are on food stamps. That Black people can't get enough of the public tit and are simply too lazy, too illiterate, and too stupid to get a job.
Finally, the weird, quirky and eccentric Ron Paul. Now there's a guy. From wanting to reduce government to the size of a community school board and legalize weed and other now controlled substances, he would like to repeal the US Civil Rights legislation. He famously stated "order was only restored in LA [after the Rodney King riots] when it came time for the blacks to pick up their welfare checks."
Now its either people are comfortable with these racist zingers or that Republicans feel that their own base is ignorant, uninformed and stupid so they can get away with these fibs. This kind of arrogance is supported by the established media that fails to explain and call them out for their pathetic whimperings. According to the Agriculture Department, more whites use food stamps than blacks and Latinos combined. Rick Santorum, Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney all know this but deliberately choose to ignore this salient fact.
By coloring poverty and food insecurity black, even in areas where few black people live, Republicans hope to spin food stamps as a black racial entitlement program. They desensitize the white masses to think that cutting these programs are all right since they do not impact "us." Republicans are forcing whites to identify with their race rather than their class and so racist stereotypes become acceptable to them.
In the old days Republicans used coded words to drive electoral politics and national discussions to hold on to power. Malcolm X accused whites of trying to bamboozle Black people. Back in the day it was fashionable for Republicans to drop codes words like "welfare queens," "coons" and "mammies" when dealing with the party faithful.
Today, Republicans appear blinded by their blood lust to make Barack Obama a one-term president. They have removed the gloves and have come over as insulting, condescending, and bigoted when it comes to dealing with the president. White male Republicans are still not comfortable with the fact that there is a "n-word in the White House" talking to them. How dare this Black man speak to "us" -- we who are entitled to the White House. We who see Black people as janitors (Newt Gingrich) or doormen or plumbers but never, never as a president of the United States.
Lost in their blind dislike for President Obama is the fact that a foundation in Germany recently analyzed the social justice records of all 31 members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), ranking each nation in such categories as health care, income inequality, pre-school education, and child poverty. The overall performance by the United States -- which boasts of being an egalitarian society -- outranks only Greece, Chile, Mexico, and Turkey. The "exceptional USA" came in 27th. Actually, three of those countries performed better than the United States in the education of pre-schoolers, and Greece, with all of its financial problems, did better than the United States on the prevention of poverty.
That and the fact that The United States is the only country in the world that regularly applies life without parole for offenses committed before the age of 18. More than 2,500 imprisoned Americans are slated to spend the rest of their lives behind bars for crimes they committed as kids.
"There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way it treats its children," Nelson Mandela once said. Tell that to the United States with its "exceptional" record of jailing young children and its outstanding history of executing the mentally impaired. You go figure it out.