Profound Cynicism

Carlos Dew wrote this in the Philadelphia Inquirer on April 25  (hat tip to Field Negro Blog):

“Jimmy Carter was lambasted for having recently explained that the vehemence with which many Americans resist Obama’s presidency is an expression of racism. Carter was accused of fanning the flames of racial misunderstanding by labeling as “racist” what on the surface could be perceived as legitimate policy differences. Like Carter, as a white Southern man, I can see beyond the seemingly legitimate rhetoric to discern what is festering behind much of the opposition to Obama and to his administration’s policy initiatives. I also have access, via the racist world from which I came, direct confirmation of the racial hatred toward Obama.

The veiled racism I sense in the United States today is couched, in public discourse at least, in terms that allow for plausible deniability of racist intent. And those who resist any policy initiative from the Obama administration engage in a scorched-earth policy that reminds me of the self-centered white flight, the abandonment of public schools, and the proliferation of private schools, that followed the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision to desegregate public schools. The very people, like my own rural, working-class family back in East Texas, who stand to gain from the efforts of the Obama administration and the Democratic Congress are, because of their racism, willing to oppose policies that would benefit them the most. Their racism outweighs their own self-interest.

Unfortunately, racists in the United States have learned one valuable lesson since the 1960s: They cannot express their racism directly. In public, they must veil their racial hatred behind policy differences. This obfuscation makes direct confrontation difficult. Anyone pointing out their racist motivations runs the risk of unfairly playing “the race card.” But I know what members of my family mean when they say – as so many said during the town hall meetings in August – that they “want their country back.” They want it back, safely, in the hands of someone like them, a white person. They feel that a black man has no right to be the president of their country.”

In addition to racism, I think this points to a possibly more corrosive part of our culture:  profound, unabashed cynicism.

Denying that race plays a role in our assessment of President Obama’s policies, whether we support them or not, betrays that cynicism.  It denies reality big time.  Pretending that we don’t see the smirk, read the body language, hear the hatred, catch the wink, or understand the code words, opens the door to make-believe.  What’s the problem with that?  Audre Lorde may have said it best:  Reality liberates, fantasy enslaves.

Case Study:  Arizona

Is there anyone alive who truly believes race has nothing to do with this situation?

We’re watching  facts and policy analysis, history and sound arguments — never popular — have diminishing sway.  Does anybody remember that President Bush’s proposed immigration policy was much more ‘liberal’ than the stance the Obama administration has taken?

The Bible warns about this in the first Psalm:

Blessed is the man
who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
or stand in the way of sinners
or sit in the seat of mockers (scoffers).

Sarcasm, cynicism, denial and lying — slow acting poisons.


About liftingasweclimb

Mildred Lewis writes and directs for theater, television, film and the web. She's also a full time professor, Christian, activist and troublemaker with a passion to save as much of the world as she can.
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One Response to Profound Cynicism

  1. Field says:

    Great post, and thanks for the shout out.

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