To the editor,
When I read the headline "Racism..." over Bob Meade's column of November 26th, I was expecting some insightful dialogue on an ongoing problem in our American culture; but once again Meade disappoints. His column becomes a political statement on how Obama's skin color is to blame for criticisms of his detractors and used "as a shield against legitimate criticism." Its purpose, however, was to make conservatives appear as the enlightened ones by demeaning and ridiculing liberals on the race issue. They like to project racism by taking it and accusing the liberals of using it first; often anti-racists are portrayed as racists.
His column is based largely on an interview done by Oprah Winfrey in which, when responding to a question posed, she states that the president's detractors, MAY be so, because of the color of his skin.
When it became apparent that Obama would be the Democratic nominee for president, racist and white supremacists were posting increasingly ugly and even threatening remarks on the Internet. Conservatives haven't been shy about attacking Obama because of his race; many have used racist comments when speaking about him. From deriding him as the "welfare president" and the "hip-hop president," to suggesting he wasn't actually born in the United States, to claiming he's "race baiting" when he speaks of his personal experience as a black man. Conservatives have no shortage of criticisms rooted specifically in the color of Obama's skin.
I found it very disconcerting that Meade, in his disingenuous comments about Obama being elected to the highest office in the land, emphasized the "enormous support from 'white' people." He continues in that same vain by attributing Opra Winfrey's success to her "mostly 'white' female audiences." Continuing, he relates that, "Both achieved their positions of stature, in part, because of the backing and support of the country's 'white' people." He places the success of these people of color at the feet of "white" people. The power of self determination is taken away from them, and regardless of his motives, it is still about white control. He may not be shouting racist epithets or actively discriminating against people of color, but he still experiences privilege based on his white skin color.
Further in his column, Meade talks of "unfounded charges of racism" and how they create "unnecessary divisions and animosity among the people ..." Could it be that he was referencing comments made by conservative icon Glenn Beck when he accused Obama as being "a person with deep seated hatred for white people or the white culture." Beck went on to say, "I'm not saying he doesn't like white people. He has a problem. This guy is, I believe, a racist." I'm assuming that this, coming from a Fox commentator, must be true. Or could he be referring to another flag bearer of the conservative right, Rush Limbaugh? After Obama's election, in 2009, Limbaugh warned, "The days of them (minorities) not having any power are over, and they are angry. And they want to use their power as a means of retribution." This type of rhetoric represents the mind-set of the conservative right.
Although Meade accuses Obama of being deceitful, he himself is a practitioner of the art. He takes a statement by Joe Biden during the re-election campaign — "Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive" — and labels it as "street talk." He further deceives the reader by suggesting that this statement played a significant role in "inciting rioters in the Middle East." I noted that he didn't follow his own advice, and "name names and offer proof."
The "race card" is used in an effort to devaluate and minimize claims of racism, and Meade proves that it can be played from both sides of the table.
Unfortunately, racism is part of our national fabric, woven in light to dark colors and too many patterns to count. We can't talk about it honestly because that would mean it EXISTS.
L. J. Siden