30 July 2009

No surprise that the advent of our first black president has and will continue to spark discussion about race and racism.  But I’m continually amazed at the narrow views held by extreme right media stars. 

Not such a surprise that Rush Limbaugh would fling accusations of racism, or reverse racism back on Obama, as we’ve see over many months.  Charges of racism?  Really?  Typical of Rush, typical of his kind of tactics, typical of someone trying to get a rise out of a radio audience.  So to me, the quote which came up for discussion today seemed mild by comparison.

Here you have a black president trying to destroy a white policeman.  I think he is genuinely revved up about race.  You know me.  I think he is genuinely angry in his heart and has been his whole life.

But as bizarre as Glenn Beck can be, this comes out of the blue: he views Obama as "a guy who has a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture. I don’t know what it is…"  The guy goes on and on.  He seems amazed, appalled, and convinced that this is Obama’s whole viewpoint, that it is his defining characteristic.

Leaving aside my own confusion about where the evidence for this supposed hatred of white people or culture comes from, I would like to say that Rush’s accusation of Obama as an “angry black man” strikes as a “well, duh!” moment.

I don’t much expect anything else.  I’d be angry too, just like I’m angry at the limitations and dismissals I encounter as a woman.  Is this really surprising?  Of course not.  But it’s also not the whole picture.  One can be mad about something and still have a fairly even handed approach to those issues, to any issue.  Because you’re angry does not automatically dictate that you’ll view those issues narrowly, or make bad policy, or treat people unfairly.

When you have something to be angry about, you get angry.  It may well be that to allow yourself the anger, to admit it and recognize it, allows you in turn to view the big picture more clearly.  Pretending you are not angry typically compromises your ability to think clearly; it’s one of the elephant-in-the-room things, where you never acknowledge the anger, yet totally structure your life in avoidance of it.

In Obama’s case, his generally even-handed approach to things like racism, sexism, abortion, gay rights suggests he doesn’t much operate out of anger, however he might have passions stirring somewhere we can’t quite see them.  And as calm as Obama generally is, maybe he needs a little anger in the mix.  Spice thinks up, Mr.. Obama!  Show us your passion!