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Thursday, June 10, 2010

We knew this was coming

It was clear from the 2008 campaign that Barack Obama's supporters would resort to the race card to stave off any criticism of the man or his policies. So, of course, now when Obama is getting criticism from the right and the left for his handling of the BP oil spill, accusations of racism are starting to crop up. What is especially humorous is that it was the liberals who were upset that Obama wasn't showing enough passion in his response to the oil spill. People like David Bonior, Maureen Dowd, David Brinkley, and Spike Lee who wanted the President to demonstrate his anger at BP and his sympathy for those affected by the oil spill. Bill Maher ranted that he wanted Obama to act like a real black president "where he lifts up his shirt so you can see the gun in his pants. That's -- (in black man voice) 'we've got a motherfu**ing problem here?' Shoot somebody in the foot.""

Personally, it isn't the President's demeanor that bothers me or, I suspect, most conservatives, it is his actions. We don't need him to feel our pain, just to demonstrate the competence that supporters swore he had and thus propelled him to the presidency.

But now Obama's seeming lack of passion is being defended as the required care that a black man must demonstrate in order not to be perceived as "an angry black man." On CNN, John Blake wrote that "Obama doesn't dare become the 'angry black man.'" Blake then goes on to quote liberal sources as evidence for this argument.
If you've followed the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster, you've heard the complaints that Obama isn't showing enough emotion.

But scholars say Obama's critics ignore a lesson from American history: Many white Americans don't like angry black men.

It's the lesson Obama absorbed from his upbringing, and from an impromptu remark he delivered last summer. Yet it's a lesson he may now have to jettison, they say, as public outrage spreads.

"Folks are waiting for a Samuel Jackson 'Snakes on the Plane' moment from this president as in: 'We gotta' get this $#@!!* oil back in the $#!!* rig!' But that's just not who Obama is,'' says Saladin Ambar, a political science professor at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
At the Washington Post, Jonathan Capehart echoed this defense of Obama.
African American men are taught at very young ages (or learn the hard way) to keep our emotions in check, to not lose our cool, lest we be perceived as dangerous or menacing or give someone a reason to doubt our ability to handle our jobs. Think of the emotional corset women in leadership positions are expected to maintain to ensure they never cry in public or show TOO much compassion for fear of raising the same doubt and seeming weak.

I pose this question because over the last two weeks, I have watched and listened with increasing frustration to the criticism that President Obama hasn't shown enough emotion, enough rage over the ceaseless flow of BP oil choking the Gulf Coast. Sure, I, too, have asked the president to connect more with the American people over this disaster. To show a little emotion. But I have never and would never advise Obama to do what movie director Spike Lee advised last week on CNN: "One time, go off!"

We all know one of the reasons why Obama won't "go off."' He's just not wired that way. Despite the feisty interview he did with NBC News's Matt Lauer that aired this morning, overt expressions of rage (or any overheated emotion) are not in his personality. That's why Maureen Dowd has consistently dubbed him President Spock. And Obama's cool, "say what I mean and mean what I say" demeanor is exacerbated by his reliance on the TelePrompTer.

But he can't "go off." And I want to talk about why.
Capehart then goes on to explain how prominent and educated black men have absorbed the lesson since they were children not to show rage or they will be tagged with the "Angry Black Man syndrome" and be perceived as too scary for the public to tolerate. That is why Obama must maintain his cool demeanor.

It is funny that writers like CNN's Blake and Capehart must explain to liberals like Maureen Dowd, David Bonior, and Bill Maher that their demands for Obama to show anger are ignoring the dilemma of black men. They're just ignorant white folk who don't understand black men. And Spike Lee is just not realizing the demands on a black leader in public life. I'm sure that, as true liberals, these critics will apologize and stop calling for Obama to demonstrate passion.

I'm not clear how public expressions of rage or some Clintonian lip biting would have made a dang bit of difference in the Gulf. But this is a clever twist on the race card to get critics thinking about the tragedy of the successful black man who can't show his emotions (someone tell Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton about this) instead of focusing on true mistakes that have been made in handling the oil spill.


2421Rich said...

Yes Betsy, this concern about Obama's anger or lack of anger may be designed to distract us from what is really happening. This is a president who wants to expand the power of the Federal Government and of the Presidency. But for some reason, in this crisis, they have yet to use the power they already have. Consider the following: 1.) They have avoided revealing the extent of this disaster from day one. 2.) they have failed to really take charge allowing BP to dither along with the Feds,and 3.) they have avoided implementing any viable solutions and have not allowed others to do so with Federal delays and red tape.
Is it possible that what they are really waiting for is for the extent of the disaster to grow causing an increase of public sentiment for the government to "step in" and vastly expand their power and control over this and other all aspects of our society. Remember! These are people who never let a crisis "go to waste."

tfhr said...

Lee, Maher, Dowd, et al, may want to see their man become Samuel 'Snakes on the Plane' Jackson, but what they have, all too well known to Iran, is Urkel.

Bachbone said...

Fox News showed a video clip tonight in which Secretary Salazar told a congressional questioner that BP had "complied with every request/demand he had made/given." Thus, if, as Gibbs, Obama and Salazar claim, they have had their "boot on BP's neck," and have been in charge since day one, Obama and Co. are responsible for the accumulating mess, not BP. As for the initial explosion and loss of life and the platform, no one yet knows what or who was responsible.

The Left sees Obama's grip slipping and envisions his looming defeat in 2012. It has spent multi-millions electing him, pushing through socialist policies, which many of them view as watered down compromises of what Obama promised he would do, and they now will use any tactic, including race baiting, to try to accomplish the rest of their agenda before Obama suffers, like Jimmy Carter, an ignominious relegation to history's scrap heap.

tfhr said...


If Carter would only stay on that scrap heap or better yet, limit his work to the very positive contributions he has made with Habitat for Humanity but no, he is a perennial rival to Helen Thomas for the coveted "Joos out of Palestine" Award for Commentary.

Locomotive Breath said...

Black men, women and everyone else in a leadership position are expected to not lose their head in a crisis. Duh. But yet, somehow, this is turned into another white man's privilege issue.

tfhr said...

Locomotive Breath,

Good point. It is amazing how the left, particularly the Hollywood chapter, continues to destroy minorities through it's perpetuation of racist and sexist stereotypes.