Faith, Living in This World, Politics

Over Coffee

I'll confess it. There are a lot of days I have my coffee with Morning Joe (brewed by Star$$$$$).

Some of those days I have to change the channel due to the palpable rise in my blood pressure. This was one of them. On the subject of President Carter's remarks on racism being directed at President Obama, the Morning Joe regulars seem unwilling to accept the notion that racism plays any part in objections to and demonstrations against the current administration.

I think it's very easy for comfortable white people to deny racism. I say this as a person who grew up in the virtual apartheid of otherwise genteel Jane Austen's Village. I say this as a person who realizes that she often *doesn't* realize her own internalized racism.

This morning I would probably be happy to smack the smug faces of the Morning Joe crew. They're describing the vitriolic attacks against President Bush. Why, someone once called him a monkey, too, says Maria Bartiromo. Is it possible someone needs to explain to her the difference between an insult and an epithet?

They're talking about poll numbers and saying "It can't just be racism. He used to have 70% approval and now it's only 50%." But if racism drives the debate through its ugliness, does it matter what the percentage of racists is?

They're asking, if we were so enlightened in November, how is it that we're so backwards now? It seems to me we were always both, in some measure.

They're saying President Carter shouldn't have said it, that he's making trouble for the ever-so-careful Obama administration in its insistence that race has nothing to do with these things. I like their post-racial attitude. But we live in a world that is both modern and post-modern (right, church people?), where some people continue to fight battles that other people want to insist are no longer relevant. Maybe both things are true. And among the "moderns," there is still racism. I'll admit it, even if Joe and Mika would rather I didn't.

11 thoughts on “Over Coffee”

  1. I’m trying to write a neutral comment on that show, which Taciturn never misses, but I can’t. If nothing else, watching that show and that entire channel is good to see what the privileged are thinking. I’ve heard some really wild stuff.

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  2. Well, to be clear, Morning Joe is on MSNBC, which generally has a more liberal slant. I watch because it’s the only show I see that is more representative. But sometimes it bugs me.

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  3. I think the reality probably is that the right-wing extremists have had nearly a year since the election to invent a plethora of conspiracies and spread its hate-mongering to conservatives around the nation (one day they say Obama was born in Kenya, yet he’s an Indonesian Muslim the next; he’s been called a socialist, a fascist and a communist; and of course his health care plan is designed to spend taxpayer dollars on killing babies and putting Granny at the mercy of government-run Death Squads). Oh yeah, Obama’s talk to students about education was all in code to indoctrinate them to socialism.
    I still believe a great deal of that hate is about the President’s liberal policies, but it’s clear that there are still pockets of racist hate-mongers preying on the fears of people who now feel disenfranchised, thereby throwing fuel on the fire. Hearing similar stories from various groups, and even such ridiculous conspiracies somehow become believable to people who revel in their own ignorance. You hear something enough times and think its the truth. (Seriously, a shirttail relative proudly said she wasn’t voting last fall. She hated Bush, but said she couldn’t vote for a Muslim. My reply to her, “Really? You have a Muslim running for office in Iowa?”)
    Sadly, listening to rumors is easier than searching for facts.

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  4. I agree with some of your points, but having said that, and having watched the Morning Joe segment, I find it interesting that President Obama wants to move beyond race, but the liberal whites cannot. No one is naive; racism still exists in America, and unfortunately it is not going away any time soon; but instead of engaging those who disagree with the president’s policies, it is all too easy to say, “Well, they are just racists.” What a wonderful way to shut down the opposition. Who wants to be called racist after all?
    Barack Obama has it right; Jimmy Carter has it wrong. White progressives want to bring back the 60s. If 1964 ever returns the progressive movement is ready. It is time to move into the 21st century; that’s progressive. Kudos for President Obama for doing so.

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  5. I don’t know Morning Joe, but I was listening to NPR mid-day (not sure what the show was) and it, too, made my blood boil.
    I applaud Jimmy Carter for naming the evil that he sees. That is a courageous action. We have our heads in the sand if we don’t recognize the racial origins of at least some of the ugliness that is going on.

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  6. After seeing some of the signs carried by those at the “Sept 13 Glen Beck Rally” I am not sure how anyone can NOT think that race is playing a role in the vitriol. Disagreeing with someone’s policies is one thing, but using blatant racially designed slogans pretty much sums up the feeling of many on the conservative right. None of us likes to admit it’s still an issue, but much of the anger and inability to have a sane dialogue is certainly due in part to fear and bias.

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  7. I would suggest that the people trying to shut down conversation are on the opposite side of the argument, Allan. I don’t note that the President’s opponents have gone silent. In fact, when I dared to watch a few minutes of the same show this morning, I heard President Carter called “malevolent and ignorant” and accused of “poisoning the health care debate.” His accuser? The ever-genial and sage Pat Buchanan.
    (Since you don’t know me, I’ll point out that was sarcasm about Buchanan.)
    It’s a choice on the part of the Obama administration not to talk about the way racism influences the debate. They must recognize it is only one factor in the disagreements, and they really cannot mention it without being accused of “playing the race card” themselves, whatever that much-used expression is supposed to mean. But you and I have the freedom, and I would suggest the responsibility, to speak up when we see offensive behavior in the public square. I don’t believe it’s the best course to ignore people who carry posters or forward emails portraying our first President of mixed race as a witch doctor. I want my children to know that it isn’t funny or acceptable to characterize another person based on the traits for which he or she had no responsibility, over which he or she had no power. Those things include, but are not limited to: race, gender, sexual orientation, even height. Lampoon me for being liberal or still using Southern vowel sounds after two decades in New England, critique my Christology or my use of family stories in sermons. Go for it! But lay off my height. Don’t insult me for being a woman. Don’t patronize me or demonize me or minimize me for characteristics that can define a class of people who have no control over being part of that class of people.
    I hear President Carter’s voice as prophetic. Our work is not complete. Further up and further in!

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