Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Racism and the President

To most people watching the passionate and sometimes rabid protests against anything President Obama does there is a troubling reaction that his election is not a transformation in the issue of racism that they desire but just a milestones on the dreary and long journey to prove the obvious. There is only one race the Human Race should be trite and accepted. There is however a problem that every time there is an issue or event that can be viewed as evidence of this racism a powerful group of pundits and commentator use that to further to argue that those who see racism are themselves playing a race card. The President himself is very consistent , he sees anything but Race driving any issue. I think its not that simple.

The basic issue here is that President Obama has been in his role for less that 1 year in which he inherited a lot of crisis from the prior administration and even though he has formal authority to deal with these things, the apparent support for his informal authority i.e. credibility was very soft as its quick erosion has shown. There are many possible explanations for this including the much vaunted lack of experience but that does not explain the visceral opposition, the level of organisation and the persistence of Fox News in attacking him. There is an edge to all this especially from a people who made the mantra of any criticism of a President during a war being the same as disloyalty to the troops and hatred of country. Most of the policy criticisms seem to deal with perception of what the President will do i.e. so called Death Panels, allowing health benefit for illegal immigrants amongst many others. Simply it is an issue of credibility.

This is the first African American President therefore it is a new challenge for many US citizens. These are people who are finding it difficult to see ultimate power exercised by someone from a group for whom they have little respect and interaction . Why is there any surprise they do not trust or give any credibility to the potential of that person to have integrity or transform their lives positively. Layer this with political differences as well as the obvious class and panache of the guy then this becomes even more hateful. Finally throw in cheerleaders like Limbaugh, Beck, Hannaty with the subtle and not so subtle support of the rest of the Fox News Network and Talk Radio rabble then we are off to the races. It is a complex and volatile cocktail and many of those who participate are in so much denial that they have buried any racial motivation deep into a sub- conscious a natural defensiveness with an issue and label that carries so much social disdain.

When the word racism is used to describe this pattern it is an oversimplification and it groups a broad range of people widely divided across the spectrum into one stereotype. It also makes it even more difficult because it is an emotional red card that introduces a knee jerk defensiveness and also absolves the President (if he wants it) from critical problem solving. Any relationship is co-created the President has his challenge truly cut out. Thankfully he knows the solution and can deliver it. By the way racism is live and well but it does not manifest itself independent of a reasoned disagreement it actually acts as an exacerbating factor that distorts the quality of interaction and engagement. It is therefore a false debate as to whether something is racist or reasoned disagreement actually it can and often is both. The tinge is found in the tone, tenor and the persistence of opposition almost in absolute disproportion to the facts.

The President as always must respond with unrelenting pursuit of excellence without excuse or self pity. He has raised the bar and the consequence must be institutionalized. Is it Racism? No matter it is still a challenge to turn it around.


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john said...

wale did you go to university of ife

Onibudo said...

Yes John certainly went to University of Ife.

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