Point of View Columns

The Negro Problem and the Letter

Ever since Barack Obama was inaugurated as president, there has been a split screen perspective on his administration. On the one hand the livid, steel-boned opposition of the Teapublicans has been described as normal politics – perhaps a tad more strident, but nothing worse than what Lincoln or both Roosevelts or Clinton faced during their presidencies. But there is another perspective which is a reflex that reflects the vile virus of racism that still afflicts this country.

“There is no negro problem. The problem is whether the American people have loyalty enough, honor enough, patriotism enough, to live up to their own constitution.” – Frederick Douglass

The eloquence of Frederick Douglass in damning slavery and its racist foundation reverberated in real time and has echoed through the ages to this very day. His challenge to the American people to “live up to their own constitution” could have been spoken this week.

One of the interesting aspects of the United States Constitution is that even though it was written over 200 years ago, it continues as the governance document for this country because of its initial clarity and its continued capacity for adapting to modern times. On the issue of the role of the President and Congress with respect to foreign policy, Article II of the Constitution states:

He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur

This week that 47 members of the United States simply defied the Constitution that they are sworn to uphold by sending a letter to the leadership of Iran that was clearly intended to interfere and subvert the Obama Administration’s negotiations with Iran regarding limiting its nuclear energy usages. Even the most serious student of American history would be hard pressed to locate a similar instance of absolute insult and disrespect by Congress for any President of the United States.

It is reasonable to ask whether these 47 senators and their supporters are so firm in their fear of Iran or so steadfast in their unequivocal and unquestioning support of Israel that they felt it necessary to shatter the centuries old divide between the Presidency and Congress on matters of foreign policy. Was there some imminent danger to which the Obama Administration had turned a blind eye which warranted this shameless conduct?

The answer to all three questions is simply “no”. So why would these senators take such an outrageous action that embarrassed the entire nation in the eyes of the world. Could it be the “negro problem” to which Frederick Douglass referred?

Could it be that the fact that President Obama is black suddenly changes the Constitution, rules of decorum and traditions of probity and respect? How the unprecedented pledge of the Republican opposition in January 2009 to ensure that President Obama would “fail” as president be explained? What other reason can there be for no sanctions being imposed on South Carolina Congressman Joe Wilson when he called President Obama a liar during his State of the Union speech to Congress?

Could there be any other explanation other than the “negro problem” for Congress shutting down the federal government and precipitating the lowering of the nation’s credit rating by doing the default death dance with the national budget. And for what other reason would Congress unilaterally invite a foreign head of state to speak for the sole purpose of criticizing the policies of a sitting president?

It would be a waste of time to search for other explanations. The “negro problem” has unhinged the Obama Administration’s opponents to the point that they cannot even feign respect. The “negro problem” has stripped the Teapublicans of their ability to respect the Constitution and it is proper to wonder if this “negro problem” has impaired their ability to think clearly, if at all.

When will the Teapublicans have “loyalty enough, honor enough, patriotism enough, to live up to their own Constitution”?

Inquiring minds need to know.

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10 thoughts on “The Negro Problem and the Letter

  1. Jim Ruxin says:

    No other president has been so damned by the leader of the opposition as when Mitch McConnell declared their job was to prevent Obama’s re-election, after his firs inauguration. Every Republican advocated policy and program has this obstructionism as its ulterior motive.

    Obama has been treated worse than any other president from the beginning. The recent letter is just a continuation of Right’s betrayal of the entire country.

    Is it racism? Well, it’s clear they do not have honor or patriotism to serve their constituents and the constitution, but the Supreme Court helps them out when it can, claiming strict construction only when it suits them.

    I think it is worse than racism, although that is a profound evil. I think the Right has a cynical lack of respect for all of humanity, and insists on foisting on everyone else their primitive view of the individual as base, selfish, craven, corrupt and incapable of being responsible for themselves and their actions.
    Their intellectual dishonest is alarmingly great, and their denial of it seems the height of arrogance. Their cynicism does not make sense alongside their worship of the free market.

    Funny how their own actions define these same failings of character.

  2. Tyrone Byrd says:

    Wallace,
    You hit it out of the ball park. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad had a peculiar name for them…smile.

  3. Linda says:

    Just shared your article with a friend…he observes that there aren’t “Teapublicans,” they are nothing but the Clan.

  4. Jeanette Spencer says:

    Wallace, thank you for your thoughts. I understand that their is something called the Logan Act prohibiting this type of behavior by any American. These senators should be charged breaking the law.

    • Thanks for your comment….much appreciated..unfortunately, although the Logan Act has been in effect since the 18th century, no one has ever been successfully prosecuted pursuant to this law……looks like we are stuck with this Free Range Congress for a while.

  5. Ellen nelson says:

    An excellent article that is right on. I am afraid we have only seen the tip of the iceberg and the only way to fight racism is to be blatantly upfront and honest as Wallace has been.

  6. Robert Williams says:

    Just because Obama, is black he not suppose to be oppose or to do so is racism. I do not by that lie. Actually Obama, Al Sharpton , Jessie Jackson, the NAACP , you (Wallace Ford) and others have done more to hurt the black race than to help it. It sad to say but it true and I am a black man.

    • Tyrone Byrd says:

      Robert,
      You have a right to your opinion, and we agree to disagree. In this case, we are completely on opposite poles, and that is being nice about it.

  7. Jim Ruxin says:

    Ouch, Robert. We all have our flaws (OK, Sharpton has many) but it takes people with fire in their belly to make long term social changes. The people you named have not misinterpreted Dr. King’s example. Granted the times are different, but they are acutely responsive to the times. You can criticize Obama; those of us who support him do too.

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