Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Great Society

I was just listening to a discussion on All Things Considered that included David Brooks of The NYTimes and E. J. Dionne of the WPost. A central focus of the chat was the perceived racism emanating from the right side of the American populace against the current administration’s direction. Early in the discussion Mr. Dionne made this statement (taken directly from the transcript of the show from the NPR web site: ‘Most of the president's opponents are against him for reasons of politics or ideology or the state of the economy, not race. And David's right, we've had big populist movements, angry populist movements. But there is simply no denying, and I don't know why everybody is so - doesn't want to say it outright, that race is motivating some of the opposition, maybe even a significant part of the opposition.’ Mr. Brooks said this in response: ‘Well, no I wouldn't deny there's always been a - in most populist movements, there's always been a racial element: Father Coughlin, there was a thick anti-Semitic movement. But I think it's mostly protest against big government and the size of the government. Now that's not to say this is not conspiratorial, but I think the basic situation here, we have people following Rush and Glenn Beck who may be are 10 percent of the country. We have another 10 percent on the other side who are almost as conspiratorial on the other side and I think the thing to…’ at which point Dionne interjected: ‘They're not racist though.’ This week former President Jimmy Carter also sustained the position that racism is to blame for the resistance President Obama’s policies are receiving from America’s staunch conservatives. He said, "I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man, that he's African American. I live in the South, and I've seen the South come a long way and I've seen the rest of the country that shared the South's attitude toward minority groups at that time ... and I think it's bubbled up to the surface, because of a belief among many white people, not just in the South but around the country, that African-Americans are not qualified to lead this great country." This is offensive rhetoric on par with the shameful and angry accusation, ‘You lie!’ that shot from the mouth and heart of Representative Wilson last week.

Indeed, we tend to segregate ourselves in this country. This is nothing new, mean or peculiar. The phenomenon of our choices to ‘run with our own’ is natural and seems to respect and respond to a basic human instinct. It is not thrust upon us. For better or worse it seems to spring from within. These choices we make – that every ethnic group makes – are not racist; they are human. Racism is real and ugly and alive in this age – as it has been in every age. It arises in every neighborhood and is aimed at and from every single segment of our population. It is evident on our streets, in our prisons, in our politics and most apparent in our churches. It is the reason for every international disagreement. (‘Italians hate Yugoslavs, South Africans hate the Dutch and I don’t like anybody very much.’ – From ‘The Merry Minuet’ by Sheldon Harrick, 1958)
But I must push back very hard against Mr. Dionne’s comment that the left is not racist. To that I say, ‘You lie!’ Although some have surely been helped by the liberal policies of Lyndon Johnson’s crushingly large government programs instituted over 45 years ago, the clear result has been insurmountable poverty, total financial dependence, the absence of accountability, the removal of personal incentive, the most populated prison system in the world, a fatherless culture, irresponsible leadership and the general hopelessness of ‘No Way Out.’ This is entrapment of the human spirit. This is enslavement of the human soul. This is racism at its most egregious - hidden behind the guise of doing good deeds: you made it look as if you were saviors. No white hoods, no ax handles, no fire hoses, no burning crosses, no lynchings. This is government-sponsored racism. This is supplying – free of charge to the recipients – all the instruments needed to hold them down and hold them back. This, my dear Mr. Dionne, I lay at your feet and the feet of those whose trumpet you blow.


Blogger Nancy said...

Well said.

I saw Jimmy Carter deny that he made that statement on tv last night.

October 6, 2009 at 2:39 PM  
Blogger Thom Schuyler said...

One lie leads to another...

October 9, 2009 at 5:47 PM  

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