By Don Klein
Let’s face it. There has been tremendous racial progress in this country in the last four and a half decades. That, however, does not mean there is no racism in today’s America. To me the problem is that too many critics throw around racism charges when they should not and thereby water down those legitimate cases of bigotry.
Evidence: When the Obamaphiles accused Bill Clinton of making racist
statements during the primary battle between his wife and Barack Obama in South Carolina last year. That was an abomination and all those guilty of intemperate charges should be ashamed of themselves. They fired blanks that deeply injured the only decent presidential candidate the party had in three decades up to that time.
Just recently we witnessed another instance where too many were quick to label the arrest of Harvard Prof "Skip" Gates as being the result of racial profiling. As the professor, the arresting officer and Obama sat down last week to enjoy a beer together at the White House many of those accusations have been withdrawn as more facts came to light.
But these are moments not worth lingering over when there are real hateful activities are smoldering on the airwaves. According to Fox TV’s Glenn Beck, the racist is Obama. He sees a "deep-seated hatred for white people." Why? Because Obama’s instincts were to stand up for a black Harvard friend before he knew all the facts. It’s certainly probable that if Gates was a white friend, Obama would have supported him as well. That’s not racism, but fellowship.
A more insidious form of prejudice in the country is this ridiculous campaign to question whether Obama is a naturally born American. There is an element of unpleasant people propelling an absurdity insisting that Obama prove he is an American. If it can be proved he is not a native citizen he is unqualified by the Constitution to be president.
The question of Obama’s citizenship has been answered time and again yet the self-appointed guardians of our democracy keep harping on the negative message as if the powers that be are withholding evidence. Isn’t it great to know our nation is being protected by the vilest all commentators, people of the Beck and Sean Hannity ilk?
Lou Dobbs, another cable news broadcaster who years ago did yeoman work in debunking illegal alien supporters, has now turned his attention to the Obama birth issue. He described critics of his asinine arguments demanding evidence of Obama’s presidential legitimacy as "limp minded, lily livered leftists." If anything is "limp" it’s Dobbs alliteration, if anything is "lily livered" its his incomprehension of clear fact.
All this is nothing less than raw demagoguery disguised as an alleged serious point of law.
This is not the first time Obama’s "Americanism" has been challenged. Remember during the presidential campaign there were Republican crowd pleasers who were happy to imply that the president-to-be was a Muslim. They drew that farcical conclusion because the president’s middle name is Hussein. That’s like assuming I am a cowboy because my friends once called me "Buck."
Several years ago there was a Time magazine cover which carried a artist’s version of the American of the future. If was a tan-skinned young woman with mildly Oriental eyes, dark hair and physical qualities of every race in the world. She was beautiful, and Time called her the American of the future. It was the realization that the land, known as the home of exiles, was rapidly becoming non-white as time passed.
There is no challenging that fact. Soon enough there will be more non-white Americans than there are whites. That means power will shift. Already there are many blacks and Hispanics in Congress and in other important elective offices. But the inevitable shift is on and many of the old white establishment don’t like. They feel it is their country and Obama sitting in the White House is the symbol of their worst nightmare.
Look at the figures: As of 2007 the US had a population of slightly more than 300 million, of which 221 million were white, 44 million were Latino, 41 million were black, 13 million Asian and 19 million other and mixed races. These figures do not add up to the total number because there are millions who fall into more than one racial category and are counted more than once.
But look at the forecast for 2050 by the Census Bureau. Non-Hispanic whites will be 46 percent of the population, Hispanics will be 30 percent, blacks will be 15 percent and Asians 9 percent. If you don’t believe these projections, take a gander at these figures, and swallow hard: 45 percent of today’s American children under the age of five years are non-white. The shift is on.
It is clear that a certain portion of the landed white gentry which have ruled this country since it inception more than two centuries ago are unhappy. Some of them see the writing on the wall and are fighting it. It is a senseless battle. Nevertheless Obama as president represents this monumental change in the country and there are those in government who are not going to make it easy for him.
They will fight his legislative programs not because they are bad governance but because they are his. They will oppose the bailout and health care measures for the same reason and oppose his Supreme Court selection even if by doing so they guarantee the loss of a significant portion of the fastest growing electorate.
And in a final hopeless thrust, they will launch bigoted accusations as if that can slow down the foreseeable and irreversible racial future.