Of course, it’s always easier to set up a caricature of someone rather than dealing with the complex realities of humans. Any human institution gets things wrong and right, usually simultaneously. Almost nobody is purely wrong or right about everything. You may disagree with town hall attendees shouting at elected officials or bringing (legal) weapons to make a point about 2nd amendment rights, but you can’t honestly insist that they don’t have any point at all, besides racism.
Still, rapid-fire, short-attention-span news relies on sensation and soundbites.
MSNBC went on at length about the people who showed up at health care town halls with pistols and even one with a semi-automatic rifle. “I mean, you’ve got a president of color, and now you have these whites showing up with guns…”
They even showed a shot of the rifle draped over this guy’s shoulder and hanging against his hip. But they didn’t show the entire shot. (Glenn Beck’s site doesn’t have it up yet, so go see the MSNBC footage (creatively cropped) vs. the CNN footage (showing the face of the man with the rifle… he isn’t white), over at Bluegrass Pundit.)
Oh, wait, that isn’t a white guy with an assault rifle, angry about some uppity black man getting out of his place… it’s a black guy, making a statement (however ill-advised) about his concerns over where our country is going.
But why let facts get in the way of a good smear?
Leonard Pitts, a liberal columnist who I frequently read and often disagree with, a few days ago spent his entire column railing against all those racists who hate having a black president. You know, all those racists at town hall meetings saying, “Read the bill!” and “I don’t want Britain’s health care system!” and “I want my country back!” It isn’t that they have concern about the lurching turn to the left we’ve taken recently or the inadvisability of nationalizing health care… oh, no, it’s people who are going home tonight to watch “Birth of a Nation” (again) while they starch their KKK robes. The only driving force behind the protests, Pitts says, is racism.
When I was on my second tour as a naval officer (still very junior), I was the top officer of the deck (OOD) on an aircraft carrier: if we were doing something especially difficult and/or dangerous at sea, I was the one who had control of the bridge. As such, I was one of the people who had some say-so on whether or not other officers would be allowed to sit for their officer of the deck oral boards. If I expressed reservations about somebody’s readiness to become qualified as OOD, they likely would not be taking their qualification board at that time. Which is all to say, my opinion was respected because of the position I had earned.
Another officer (we’ll call him John) got to the carrier at about the same time as me. He told this sob story about how his last captain “didn’t like him” (it happens, and it can be very hard to prove) and that’s why he had failed to earn his surface warfare qualification on his first ship. At first, I commiserated. Then I stood watch with John. No, it had nothing to do with his ethnicity or his likability: he was just incompetent. I didn’t find John unlikable for being Filipino, but for being lazy, clueless, and utterly oblivious to his own lack of ability. He let it be known that the special evolutions OOD’s (me and one other officer) “didn’t like him.” No, we didn’t like his incompetence or his attitude that he was owed a pass on his lack of effort for some reason.
I dislike President Obama for the same kinds of reasons I disliked my incompetent shipmate. I couldn’t care less what color either one of them happens to be. If, instead of President Obama, we had President Alan Keyes or President Bobby Jindal, I would be perfectly happy. Neither Keyes nor Jindal would be promoting nationalized health care, appointing several dozen unaccountable czars, bestowing billions upon billions of bailouts for incompetent companies, or repeatedly botching our foreign relations by snubbing our democratic allies and trying to buddy up to various dictators.
Of course, it is/was easier for both President Obama and John to pretend that it’s all personal prejudice, which they can safely and condescendingly ignore.