TED Conversations

Sid Tafler

This conversation is closed.

Is racism behind the strident opposition to President Barack Obama?

Every U.S. President faces criticism and resistance, but I don't remember anyone asking to see Bill Clinton's birth certificate.
It seems part of the political discourse in the U.S. to insist Obama is a Muslim (it's telling in itself that this is a curse word among conservatives), un-American in background and character, or even to wave the Confederate flag in front of the White House, which is way behind code for Jim Crow sentiment.
Obama has had his failings--inexperienced when first elected, promises unkept, dithering on crucial issues, failed program delivery.
But are some of his failures the result of intransigence by hardline opponents, their absolute denial of his presidency despite two elections?
Do his shortcomings deserve the deep enmity, the instinctive resistance to everything he stands for or proposes?
Actor/director Robert Redford says some members of Congress are trying to "paralyze the system. There's probably some racism involved, which is really awful."
Meanwhile, critics like Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert accuse Obama
himself of "stirring up racial tension and violence."
I'm not suggesting everyone who opposes Obama is racist, but are some of his political foes in Congress in that camp? And do others provide comfort and support to the millions of Americans who are?

Share:
  • thumb
    Oct 20 2013: Unfortunately Sid, racism still exists in our country.
  • thumb
    Oct 21 2013: Are you voting for Hilary because you are racist or voting for Obama because you hate women? Have you stopped beating your wife .. answer yes or no please. If a woman does not accept your advances is she a (enter any bad name you can think of).

    We live in a age of labels. The question is why. You think he is great .... I don't like where he is taking the US then am I racist. Is the race card being played. You bet. The citizen issue came to light when his grandmother stated he was born over seas and was present at his birth ... and later he traveled to countries that were not allowed by the US for its citizens ... then what country did he claim to be able to enter the off limits areas? He offered to have the most transparent presidency in history and locked every document, record, and account of his and his wife's past. So when anyone questions any of these events .... they do it because he is half black. To question is not racist .... to follow blindly is stupid.

    I do not like the fact that we will be 17 trillion dollars in debt by the end of the year and no end to spending that we are facing a recession and depression ... that we are embracing UN Article 21 through Hilary Clinton .... that the Constitution has been raped and laid aside in controlling the boarder for the purpose of accruing votes .... Why can't immigration deport his Aunt and Uncle who are on welfare ... he is a multi-millionaire who chose to let his relatives live off the government than to aide them ... he is not a nice person ... of any color.

    A new poll came out that said he was the worst president of all times passing Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton .... there was no mention that he was black .... just doing a lousy job.

    Why is it than when human rights takes a step forward someone like you must again stir the embers and bring it back to the front and throw labels onto anyone who disagrees.

    You sir are part of the problem.
  • Oct 20 2013: Racism is an issue in our country, but I really do not see it as the driver for the partisan hatred that we seem to be burdened with in our political system, more a catalyst in some instances.

    It seems that the struggle for equality associated with skin color is used as justification for a lot of arguments. The reality is that changes brought about by this struggle have forced rules to change, laws to change, and attitudes to change, with the last being the slowest. It is difficult for people to un-program attitudes and behaviors learned during their formative years, even when they know they should introspectively weed these memories and inclinations. Some choose to suppress the memories and feelings, others try and take affirmative actions believed to right past wrongs.

    I see it as an old wound that is healing slowly. I think with time, and efforts to not transfer feelings of racism to subsequent generations, the wound will heal. The subject of racism should be addressed when there is evidence of wrong-doing or prejudice, and perhaps considered as a potential source of statistical bias in population surveys. It exists, it should not be ignored. Equal treatment for all should be our goal. However, this wound is re-opened when religious leaders, media opportunists, and politicians choose to use it to provoke emotions, increase ratings or re-direct attention from plans to fix problems to personal attacks.

    To people outside the United States, it must seem strange and confusing, particularly with the denial, spin, and misinformation generally associated with the topic. I think racism is not the driver for opposition to Obama, but it seems to be a tool opponents are willing to deploy, despite the cost to our nation.

    I think more of a culprit for current problem is the constant barrage of negative campaigning, and decisions to win elections with short-term solutions rather than keep the focus on the long-term solutions our country needs to stay strong, and greed.
  • Oct 18 2013: The bigger problem is ignorance. The more we embrace education, the faster racism goes away.

    I know better and I still stuck my foot right into this quagmire. Shame on me.
  • thumb
    Oct 17 2013: No. He is just a very ineffective president. Jimmy Carter was Caucasian and a very ineffective president.
    But, to ask if it is racial, could imply racism.
  • W T 100+

    • +1
    Oct 17 2013: How can anyone really answer your question?
    How are we supposed to know the truth of it all?
  • thumb
    Nov 8 2013: After more thought and reading these comments, I have come to the conclusion that the strident opposition to President Obama has so much more to do with his effectiveness as a president then his race.
    Promises, Inspiration, all the things that would have seemed to come to pass under this president did not. In fact, when compared to previous presidents, I am not sure he will rate very high, his few successes are not of historical mention... but we'll see.
  • thumb
    Nov 8 2013: I would guess there are far more Obama supporters accusing his opponents of being racist, than there are people who oppose him on racist grounds. There are certainly racist jokes and comments circulating, but even in those circles, the actual source of the resentment is more likely to be his policy. For conservatives, Obama's ideology is on the other end of the battlefield. For liberals and independents, it would probably be his allegience to the War on Terror and the Patriot Act, lack of interest in Occupy and general attitude change compared to his 2008 campaign.

    Probably a big reason for the disenchantment is because there was so much enchantment with him on the campaign trail. It must've been a solemn day for liberals when they realized "Hope and Change" was coined in a conference room.
  • thumb
    Nov 5 2013: Brian is gone... for what ever reason. So my comments seem out of place without context. I should take them down. But, I have to admit, I am disappointed in current administration.

    I see no healthcare coming to people who could use it.

    In a war, there are opponents... and opponents battle each other until there is a winner or all the resources of war are exhausted. The Healthcare law has become a war with all the horrors of war. I am not looking at the opponents, I am looking at the battlefield and the innocents effected by collateral damage.
    It has been said that the worse causality of war is the battlefield. Collateral damage is passed off as "unfortunate"!
    In this current war of health insurance, The USA is the battlefield and people needing healthcare are collateral damage.
    Yet, the war is being waged on faulty principals.... It's about insurance, not healthcare.
    What about doctors and other healthcare providers, will there be sufficient practitioners available? What about facilities, will there be enough hospitals and clinics available? Even in that little town I visit 60 miles from my home? There is nothing there now!
    So, In this dynamic, how is it going to play out. I have no idea. I know from experience that people who have government insurance here and in other countries sometimes have to search for medical care or have to wait for heath services for extended periods. America is different. Sick and broke? Go to an hospital emergency room and get treated. Potentially having to wait a couple of days or even weeks to see a doctor under the new healthcare law, why wait? Go to a hospital emergency room and get treated today!
  • thumb
    Nov 1 2013: Brian,
    I am sorry, I think we have differing views on leadership. I have personally followed what could be described as leaders. Mr Obama is not a leader. I can list a dozen descriptions demonstrating that statement, but I only have 2000 characters.
    To be of mixed race and opening the discussion about race is a nobel social cause, it may have added to Dr. King's foresight, but I am not sure how much. But, we are talking about the Presidency of the United States. That office is not about social causes. It is about administering the greatest and the largest nation in the world.
    The number of issues facing the country requiring a "President" again to long to list.
    The one thing that he has hung his legacy hat on was a new healthcare system.
    Wait a minute, it provides no health care. It provides at best supplemented health insurance for poorer people. It came together as an output of Mr. Obama's best political schemers and health insurances companies... each thinking they could take advantage of the other. The people will not win. Maybe, the political minions, who seem to be hoping the health insurance companies will see the futility of the program and fold, leaving the health insurance to the government and the insurance companies seeing a chance to score significant profit potential. I have little confidence in minions, the winner is the health insurance companies.
    Mr. Obama will become known as American's first mixed race president who squandered the visions of Dr. King's bringing America together. Maybe the next black president will be a leader who will inspire the nation and bring the races together.
  • Comment deleted

    • thumb
      Oct 31 2013: I agree Brian, there is little to suggest blatant racism. But, it is a little early to thank him for what he has done.

      I don't see anything praise worthy as yet. What I have seen in the last 5 years, is a complete lack of organizational management. A failure in policies to balance the budget as promised, open the administration to better public view, to end the effects of lobbyists, etc. etc.
      Everything I have seen from his administration is the continuance to provide federal redistribution of tax funds in an effort to gain electorate support.
      However, since his administration, there are more poor, more less educated, more ill people then ever in the USA.
      His signature program to provide healthcare is not healthcare, but a questionable insurance program. There are no free clinics, no increase in medicare care providers, a profession in some fields that is critically short... there are simply more people that will purchase insurance for services may not have available. Insurance companies will make profit which is fine, that's what companies do. Wealthy taxpayers will find loopholes and those not so wealthy will pick up the tab
      for all those supplemented supported insurance premiums.
      • Comment deleted

        • thumb
          Nov 4 2013: I look at the Presidency as more then just a "leader".
          A leader is one who inspires people to do their very best at whatever their task. A leader is one who can ask for one's life and it would be gladly offered.
          Our President may be a leader to some, but not to me. I am not inspired. I am sad.

          I also see the presidency as a position of administration. To manage a huge bureaucracy in the accomplishment of tasks as ordered by law. To insure those tasks are done economically, efficiently and timely. I see restraint and thoughtful consideration to the electorate. I see respect for the order of law and governance.
          I see little or none of these characteristics in the current administration.
  • thumb
    Oct 21 2013: It was racism and the fear of being labeled racist that got him elected. When a black person assumes a person is racist because their skin color is white, and a person will worthy because their skin color matches theirs it is racist. It is your fear of being labeled racist, keeping you from seeing the truth.

    Thanks to the democratic party, America is hated by the world and by its own people, and it quickly becoming a 3rd world country. And try to defend by giving dump quotes from the Republican puppet party, for they only exist to keep to illusion of having a two party system.
    A legit party would focus on the fact he was not raised in America, instead of his birth.
    A legit party would know that the Great dust-bowl was largest natural disaster in modern times, and that is clueless about American history.
    A legit party would have played the beetle song about change and people carrying signs of Chairman mao’bama.
    I could go on and on, but it is clear Republican party is a scam, and the Democratic party hates freedom now as much as it did in the US civil war. .

    So thank for playing your part in killing America.
  • Oct 21 2013: Sid,
    First of all, why is it impossible, or should it take several years for Obama to produce a birth certificate?
    If there was a doubt about his eligibility, then it is fair to have him, like any other candidate, prove his citizenship.
    That, I believe has nothing to do with racism per se, although there may be some for whom this is true.
    The story of the law involved is bogus, IMO because this person was running for the Presidency!!
    This was a matter of national concern and urgency, yet when one downloads it and opens in Adobe Illustrator, it is filled
    with layer after layer of information rather than being one document. It has been drastically altered and is most likely
    a fake.
    I know of only one candidate who tried to come out of nowhere and run for the presidency and his career was ruined for 25-30 years before he was able to climb back to a Mayoral office and now a Governor.
    Obama came out of nowhere.
    Obama is a Manchurian Candidate and U.S. citizens are Manchurian Citizens.
    The Conservatives in Amerika are still devoutly and deeply racist and keep it well-hidden.
    The surface is only what we see and is only a game to keep the populace talking
    about things rather than doing something about the state of the Un-united States.
    Politicians for the most part, are all part of one big camp.
    I believe nothing any of them say. I believe that is the only prudent, wise and sensible
    way to handle their words. They never keep promises, Charley Brown, so stop lying
    to yourselves (Americans), that some day they will.
    At present, there is virtually no politician in American't who deserves respect, trust or support.
  • thumb
    Oct 20 2013: As an outsider, the racist card is being played to some extent, and so are several other 'cards'. What else can one say?
  • thumb
    Oct 20 2013: OK,
    Are there some in America who are truly racist? Yes. Millions? I think is overstated.
    Most of the "racial criticism" of the President is what I call " frustrational racism". Many people, maybe millions, are frustrated by his political policies and can not adequately express themselves. That frustration could sound racist, especially if used by supporters of the President to denigrate the frustrated comments.
    It could be said that the use of the "Racist" accusation is in it self is racist.
    The accusation is a deflection of criticism. If you accuse someone of racism it causes the accused to question his motives and rational.
    Which begs the question.... " Is racism behind the strident opposition to President Barack Obama? " a racist comment?
  • thumb
    Oct 20 2013: Being an observer from outside, I feel your proposition is quite possible.
  • thumb
    Oct 18 2013: Short answer, yes racism is clearly a factor. How influential a factor? It must be greater than many admit since most of his policies would rate him as a moderate Republican in a blindfold test. Also his personal manifestation in speech and other areas is also not noticeably what most would call culturally black. Evidence of prejudice is seen in the very minimal differences between Romneycare and Obamacare. The first is generally accepted as okay the other the evil plan of the Antichrist. I have never met anyone nor heard of anyone besides Malcolm Gladwell who admits to being racist. Where I live if you have ever had one nonwhite friend then this proves that you are not racist.(even if you never contacted them after you left the army). It seems to me that a lot of politicos have used his race to make people fearful. One friend told me in Dec 08 that he was definitely going to give black people superior rights so that all white people would be forced to underclass status. Here is the underlying motivation of most such people. They believe that there are not enough resources available for all and that then justifies any means to secure their personal supply. Think about how often they complain of welfare queens and people who refuse to work.They assume that welfare and foreign aid are the biggest part of the deficit.
  • thumb
    Oct 17 2013: IMO~
    Bad leadership is bad leadership.

    Race has nothing to do with it.
    • Oct 18 2013: What do you think about John Boehner?
      • thumb
        Oct 18 2013: I think he's not the president.
        • Oct 21 2013: he is the speaker of the house of representatives and leader of the republican caucus in the house
      • thumb
        Nov 7 2013: No kidding. But he is not the leader. He is middle management.
        • Nov 8 2013: Linda,

          Think we will have to agree to disagree - looking at prior speakers, tip, newt, etc. they negotiated with the president on a equal level. Hence, I do not think of them as middle management.
      • thumb
        Nov 8 2013: Think about it. There are a bunch of people he represents, who may or may not agree with each other. He takes their issues to the leader who will probably not listen to him. You can't get more middle management than that.
  • Oct 17 2013: The answer, is like most things in life "partially, but its far from the only reason".
    Its probably not even the main reason, though we'll likely never know for sure, as quantifying exactly how big a part racism is of the overall opposition to Obama is difficult.
  • thumb
    Oct 17 2013: Well, The hardliners down in Nz like using " Hussein Barrack Obama" rather than Barrack and for some reason they barely contain themselves in their spittle, which is funny since he is not our President.

    Honestly, I thought at the time of your elections it was bad for him to be elected as there was no way he or anyone was going to steer your country back from the brink in 8 years, it's a 3 term problem. I would've turned it down and got in after all the pitfalls of restarting the beast. From just watching the old conservative groups who are predominantly of old European ancestry and a little jaded and insecure at not having good old England as a mother country to look back upon down here. Yes, it's racism.

    Thinly veiled with the words Muslim, Kenyan, Moochelle, the funny thing is is that it would not have mattered whether he was Japanese American, Chinese American, Hispanic American, Whatever American.The Presidencies of Bush and Barrack has literally killed these two guys, virtually aging them on television before your two eye's, that's how much of a beast America is when she's down. If they had come to me and asked me to stand I would be running for the hills screaming "Give it back to the Texans."

    Your countries down but not out and it might be adjusting painfully from a deep old culturally European sense of empire to just being part of the planet. My countries old conservatives are in mourning and so desperately want to become your 53rd State. They still use the words Communist and long for the cold war era.
  • thumb
    Oct 17 2013: Lots of people have a visceral hatred for Bill and Hilary Clinton, others for George Bush or for Sarah Palin, some for Barack Obama, and the list goes on.

    I don't think these strong negative feelings are based entirely on the policies these public figures stand for. My guess would be that some of this is a reaction to personality types or how they present themselves to the public..

    In terms of perhaps surprising beliefs, an AP poll one year ago seems to say that more Americans think Obama is Jewish than Muslim: http://www.mediaite.com/online/ap-poll-finds-more-americans-believe-obama-is-jewish-than-muslim/