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Hannity, Clinton, Obama, Rev. Wright and "Racism 101"

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Part One: "Not God Bless America. God Damn America"

What are we to make of FOX NEWS hate-monger, Sean Hannity? Years after he gave Neo-Nazi Hal Turner a secret guest call-in number to WABC -- in order to assure that his calls could always get on his radio show -- Hannity recently "broke" a story about the inflammatory rhetoric occasionally used by Barack Obama's former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright. (Quote from Hannity: "I broke this story.")

And, now, a desperate Hillary Clinton is piling on. Not only has she said that Jeremiah Wright "would not have been my pastor," she also mistakenly compared Rev. Wright's statements with those of Don Imus -- which is something nobody familiar the moral asymmetries in racism would ever do.

But, first, to Mr. Hannity's ties to Mr. Turner. It was Turner, you'll recall, who said on the air that, except for the graciousness of white people, "black people would still be swinging on trees in Africa." In fact, Mr. Turner, were it not for the black people originating in Africa, the earth would have no white people. Moreover, bipedalism preceded white skin by millions of years. "Swinging on trees," indeed!

We wouldn't be addressing Turner's racist rants, however, had Hannity not exhibited traits of a recidivist racist by taking seemingly inflammatory comments by Rev. Wright out of context in order to smear Senator Obama. In fact (as I'll demonstrate below), only by pulling Rev. Wright's comments out of context, could Mr. Hannity issue his insidious warning: If Barack Obama "agreed with Wright…that would mean a racist and an anti-Semite would be president of the United States."

Hannity's recidivist racism goes back at least as far as March 1, 2007, when he interviewed Rev. Wright and took great pains to paint Wright's Trinity Unity Church of Christ as a black separatist church. Here's Hannity's line of argument: "Commitment to the black community, commitment to the black family, adherence to the black work ethic. It goes on, pledge, you know, acquired skills available to the black community, strengthening and supporting black institutions, pledging allegiance to all black leadership who have embraced the black value system, personal commitment to the embracement of the black value system."

"Now Reverend," Hannity continued, "if every time we said black, if there was a church and those words were white, wouldn't we call that church racist?"

In fact, the correct answer is: "Yes, we would." And then, of course, we'd explain why it would be racist for whites, but not racist for blacks. Unfortunately, Rev. Wright's answer lacked clarity: "We don't have to say the word 'white.' We just have to live in white America, the United States of white America."

Fortunately, a clue about why the answer would be, "Yes, we would," can be found in professor Lawrence Blum's book, "I'm Not a Racist, But…" The Moral Quandary of Race. On page 63, professor Blum writes about his encounters with white students who, like Hannity, ask "why it is regarded as legitimate for students of color to have their own organizations and activities, but not them."

In every instance, Blum reminds them: "Within a white-dominated institution, white students do not need special support for their identity. They are much less likely to experience objectionable stereotyping and racial discrimination." [p. 63]

Such impeccable logic, Mr. Hannity, also holds for white churches in white-dominated America.

However, why so many whites feel the need to raise such a question is, itself, an interesting question. And two students of racial attitudes appear to have the answer: "In contrast to much of the literature focusing on whites, African Americans' racial attitudes and policy preferences seem to be driven more by their in-group bias than out-group animus." [Vincent L. Hutchings and Nicholas A. Valentino "The Centrality of Race in American Politics," p. 395] "Black's history of slavery and discrimination has encouraged them to evaluate policies [and, presumably, give sermons about them] based on their perceived impact on the racial group." [Ibid]

Thus, Mr. Hannity, it appears that you and many other whites have misconstrued the "in-group bias" of Rev. Wright's church to be "out-group animus." Could it be that "out-group animus" is the only racial attitude you understand?

As most of us know, African-Americans suffered the abomination of slavery for nearly 250 years. And, in order to justify that abomination, slave-owning whites fabricated and spread the BIG LIE about the innate inferiority of blacks. The BIG LIE even gained the support of respectable scientists, such as the polygenist, Louis Agassiz. ("Indeed, the Nazis were distinctly influenced by American racial thought." [Blum, p. 4]) But, more significantly, "No respectable scientist challenged the idea of race and its corollary, white supremacy, until the early decades of the twentieth century." [Blum, p. 126]

Thus, blacks were widely viewed to be senseless brutes and often abused as such, especially in the South. Consequently, nothing prohibited America's slaves from being ruthlessly exploited to generate enormous excess wealth for undeserving white Americans.

But even worse than such antebellum suffering and exploitation was the totalitarian system of racism that gripped the South for nearly another century. Called Jim Crow, it was a system of segregation, continued economic exploitation, KKK ascendance, lynch mob terrorism and racial cleansings "that emptied entire counties" of black residents.

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Walter C. Uhler is an independent scholar and freelance writer whose work has been published in numerous publications, including The Nation, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the Journal of Military History, the Moscow Times and the San (more...)
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