The election of Barack Obama as president in 2008 was a global feel good moment. Americans savored the notion of a young, energetic and brilliant new president. The sickness of war and the souring economy had this country yearning for the change that Obama promised. And the world looked on with wonder that a nation with a history that has been stained with the impossible atrocities of racism since its birth could elect a black man to lead it. It was at that moment that the narrative of the post racial fairy tale began to be told – and sold.
White Americans held up the election of Barack Obama as proof that America had “moved on” and that race was no longer a factor in political discourse. Even black Americans got caught up in the moment as President Obama’s inauguration was touted as the fulfillment of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream – even though towards the end of his life Dr. King’s rhetoric was decidedly anti-establishment.
To paraphrase Shakespeare, upon Barack Obama taking office, his opponents could let slip the racist dogs of war all the while claiming that the president was “fair game”. Rush Limbaugh bellowed that he wanted President Obama to “fail” while Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell muttered hours after the oath of office was administered that his only goal was to insure that Barack Obama would be a one term president. Although such post-inaugural invective was unprecedented we were assured that there was nothing racial going on…just “fair game”.
And then, like mushrooms popping up in the slime of the forest, the Tea Party appeared. And so did effigies of Barack Obama being burned. And so did posters of Barack Obama depicted as a deranged black Joker and a witch doctor (complete with a bone through his nose). Republicans, Tea Party zealots and Teapublicans assured us that there was nothing racial going on….just “fair game”.
History can be a trickster. We can remember where we were on 9/11 but we forget that the Teapublican Party apparatus dedicated itself to complete and unalterable opposition to the Affordable Health Care Act proposed by President Obama, even though it would address the urgent health care needs of over 40 million Americans and the ongoing health care needs of over 300 million Americans. They opposed the Act even though its key elements were taken from the health care initiative proposed by the everlasting conservative (and Republican) Hoover Institute. Once again, we were assured that we were now living in a post racial America and the entire furor was just politics as usual.
President Obama was called a liar while giving an address to the United States Congress (by a United States Congressman!!!!) and we were told that in post racial America it was politics as usual. Sarah Palin winked at supporters who shouted “Kill him” referring to President Obama and we were told that it was just part of the post racial political scrum.
Throughout his presidency Barack Obama has been subject to the shameful “birther” attacks. Unprecedented in American presidential history, idiots from Rush Limbaugh to Donald Trump has sucked up news time and air space questioning the authenticity of President Obama’s citizenship. Once again, we were assured that there was nothing racist going on, just legitimate inquiry, or “fair game”.
Finally, and hopefully not too late, the cover of the racists and the bigots and the prejudiced miscreants has been blown. Over a dozen states have instituted laws that, while touted as being written to address non-existent voter fraud, are intended to suppress voter turnout among black Americans.
This is a throwback to the days of the Klan which had as its twin guiding lights the preservation of the sanctity of white women and the prevention of blacks from attaining any political power. Voter suppression was the key weapon of Klan because it recognized that voting black Americans were dangerous.
In this allegedly post-racial America, voter suppression has replaced Willie Horton ads and hysterical calls to action. In 2000 the Republican Party literally stole the presidential election and ushered in the Bush-Cheney flirtation with national and global disaster. As has been written before, rather than try to steal another election in November, the Teapublicans have decided to steal the election in August.
Mitt Romney goes to England and takes his foot out of his mouth long enough to sputter some inane comments about Anglo Saxon heritage and how the first black president of the United States doesn’t appreciate that heritage. One of Mr. Romney’s surrogates suggests that the first black president of the United States needs to learn how to be an American.
There is nothing post racial about all of this. If it quacks like a duck it is a duck. And this duck is a racist duck.