By Alan Caruba
I was frankly surprised when Barack Obama was elected President in 2008. I thought his self-identification as a black American would tip the scales to John McCain in a nation that has had a long history of racial enmity towards blacks.
None of this is new. Race was a factor in American life in pre-Revolutionary days and slavery had to be papered over even in the writing of the Constitution. It took a Civil War to get amendments to end slavery and ensure the rights of citizenship were extended to blacks. It took another hundred years to make it real.
It is apparent in hindsight that a sufficient number of white Americans wanted to show the world that America could elect a black man President.
Well, they have succeeded and a year and a half into his term, a lot of them are having some serious buyer’s remorse. In the words of Spike Lee’s film, they were trying to “do the right thing.” Many are beginning to sense the feeling is not reciprocated.
Obama has benefited from the robotic, ninety-plus percent support of blacks in the Democrat Party. Even so, there are signs of discontent, not just among whites, but among blacks particularly in light of the disproportionate numbers who are unemployed. The “Get Out of Jail” card blaming George W. Bush has expired.
I suspect that the Obama administration will be seen by historians as no less racially divisive than its predecessors.
Americans got an initial glimpse of this when Obama deemed the arrest of a black Harvard professor “stupid” in the wake of his resistance when police arrived to investigate what could have been a break-in. That incident required a photo op in which the police officer, Prof. Henry Lewis Gates, and the President sat down for a beer together.
The pot really began to boil with the appointment of Eric Holder as the Attorney General. In February 2009 he said America was “a nation of cowards” who would not address racial issues. A lot of Americans thought we had.
Having lived through the Civil Rights era of the 1960s I thought that odd because thousands of Americans, white and black had participated in sit-ins and marches to achieve the 1964 Civil Rights Act. All displayed courage. Some even gave their lives.
The latest incident, largely ignored by the news media is the treatment accorded the New Black Panther Party, two members of which were caught on video clearly trying to intimidate voters in Philadelphia. Let go locally with a mild slap on the wrist, if a white duo had engaged in similar behavior, it would have been big news as a voting rights infraction.
Eric Holder’s Department of Justice ignored prosecution at the federal level and a staff member resigned in protest. He was heard by the Civil Rights Commission offering some very damning testimony about bias within the DOJ suggesting blacks would receive different treatment than whites.
There are two black Republican candidates running for Congress, Tim Scott in South Carolina’s first district and Allen West who is challenging Rep. Ron Klein (D) in Florida’s 22nd Congressional district.
West has been sharply critical of the Obama administration for declining to prosecute the New Black Panther Party on voter tampering charges. “The die has been cast in this election cycle,” said West. “Democrats and their liberal progressive socialist allies will continue to play the race card when it is politically expedient.”
If either West or Scott is elected, they will be the first black GOP lawmaker since Rep. J.C. Watts (R-OK) who retired in 2003. It is surely lost on no one that Michael Steele is the visible voice and face of the Republican Party these days.
Having lived through a period of rioting in many U.S. cities that were ignited by racial grievances, I am hopeful that the recent riot in Oakland is not a precursor to more. A court judgment finding a white police officer guilty of involuntary manslaughter of a black man served as little more than an excuse for looting.
President Obama has just over 900 days to go in his present term in office. Putting aside racial issues, he is failing on most counts and so spectacularly that an entirely new political movement, the Tea Party, has arisen independent of both political parties. The response from the Left has been to falsely accuse its members of being racists.
The undercurrent of divisiveness is being seen, heard and felt throughout America. It is far less about race and far more about fears that unwanted legislation is being forced on all Americans, that solutions put forth to invigorate the economy have failed, and that the nation is being shamed and embarrassed by the actions of the President.
A lot of progress has been made by blacks in America, but the White House and the judicial branch of government could set back the clock for reasons that are mostly political, but that have a disquieting racial element.
On the blog, WakeUpBlackAmerica, a recent post said, “As a black male, it was beyond embarrassing watching blacks in South Central Los Angeles destroying their city over a two bit hood rat drunk (referring to Rodney King in 1992) who was beaten by the LAPD. Now I have to watch black men making fools out of themselves yet again over an incident that wasn't racist in nature.”
“Correct me if I am wrong, but wasn't the election of Barack Obama supposed to have ushered in the era of ‘post racial harmony’ or something like that?” Good question.
Alan Caruba blogs daily at http://factsnotfantasy.blogspot.com/. An author, business and science writer, he is the founder of The National Anxiety Center.
© Alan Caruba, 2010