Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Obama's Dilemma

After giving his famous speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, Barack Obama emerged on the national political scene. During the speech, he said:

We are all connected. There is not a liberal America and a conservative America. There is the United States of America. There is not a Black America and a Latino America and an Asian America. There is the United States of America.

Many people embraced Obama as a symbol of the new post-racial era. That image made Obama appealing to a large segment of the white community. He was not another threatening, angry black man like Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rev. Al Sharpton or Min. Louis Farrakhan. People have described him as the Tiger Woods of politics.

During the Presidential Election, the Obama campaign avoided discussing issues of race. They constantly reminded the American people that Obama was not running to be the President of Black America. He was running to be President of the United States of America. When then Senator Joseph Biden referred to Obama as the first clean, bright and articulate African American Presidential candidate, Obama avoided directly addressing the issue. Later, Obama stated that he did not take the comments personally and that Biden’s statements were inaccurate. Eventually, Obama was forced to address the issue of race because of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright controversy.
Obama’s strategy of avoidance helped him win the Presidency. Therefore, it is not be surprising that Obama rejected former President Jimmy Carter’s statement about racism.

It is obvious that Barack Obama is under attack in part due to his race. This is apparent when one sees the teabaggers’ protest signs. Some of the signs depict Obama as an African witch doctor, a terrorist and Adolf Hitler. One protester's sign read, “We came unarmed (this time).” Some of these protesters actually came to town hall meetings armed. At one of the town hall meetings, one deranged protester carried a sign threatening the President and the First Family’s lives. One preacher actually prayed for the President’s death. With their racially divisive remarks, Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh are inflaming the situation. For example, Limbaugh said, “In Obama’s America, white kids get beat up with the black kids cheering right on, right on, right on.” Furthermore, the birthers claim that President Obama is not even an American citizen.

In the face of all this ugly racism and hatred, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs asserted that “the President does not believe that criticism comes based on the color of his skin.” On Meet the Press, President Obama said, “This debate that is taking place is not about race. It is about people being worried about how our government should operate.”

I understand the Administration’s reasoning. The President is attempting to pass health care reform. He does not need any unnecessary distractions. It would be illogical for him to jeopardize long term goals for the sake of posturing. Politics is like a game of chess. One may have to sacrifice lesser pieces or even important pieces in order to win. Although I understand, I wish the Obama administration had the courage to speak the truth about race. Since Obama is silent, the progressive bloggers, activists and organizations must continue to speak out.