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Frank Schaeffer has recently posted an article entitled “The Slow Motion Lynching of President Obama” http://www.patheos.com/blogs/frankschaeffer/2013/12/the-slow-motion-lynching-of-president-barack-obama in which he equivocates criticism of the U.S. President, Barack Obama, to people blaming the victim of a lynching for the crime perpetrated against them. Within this argument, he metaphorically asserts that what is happening to Obama is “slow-motion lynching.” This characterization is not only wrong, it's offensive. The article originally featured an image of three victims of lynching but has since been removed.

In the article Mr. Schaffer effectively ties critique of Obama with racism, which presents several questions. How do you separate typical republican dissent from racially-motivated dissent, knowing that political rhetoric has been in decline for decades? I have a very hard time believing that Hillary, for example, would have had it any better. What has Obama done, outside of being elected, that has advanced race relations in the country? What has he done to alleviate poverty? Obama has outrightly insulted MLK, advanced bank-friendly policies, exhibited an eager willingness to cut safety-net programs, and ignored traditionally “black” issues. MLK believed that combating Poverty and Militarism were crucial to the fight against racism… unfortunately, Obama has a terrible track record on both accounts. http://obamatheconservative.com

Many conservatives hate Obama for any number of reasons, including his race, but I don't think that the level of racism can be quantified. It seems to me that the majority of racism against Obama is expressed as an overt “grassroots hatred” at the local level in conservative districts and as a subconscious disdain in the minds of average conservatives. Does this result in more heated rhetoric from elected republicans from those districts and obstructionism? I don't know… I think many republicans would come up with any number of inflammatory statements about the opposition. Even if that opposition wasn't a “black intellectual,” I think the obstructionism would remain. Casting blanket blame on racism for dissension from the right AND left, I think is false and simplistic.

The author confuses roles by defending “Obama the person” from attacks against “Obama the president.”

e.g.

“We’ve been watching a slow motion lynching of a moderate brilliant family man, a father, and faithful loving husband.” ← defense of Obama in personal terms against → “The Republicans in Congress are so dedicated to lynching the President they’ve been willing to shut down our government and risk the future of our economy.” ← political “attack”

again

“They say “he’s not reaching out enough” or “he’s too cold.” ← a political assessment vs. perceived personal characteristics → “I’ve changed because if this country will lynch a brilliant, civil, kind, humble, compassionate, moderate, articulate, black intellectual we’re lucky enough to have in the White House, we’ll lynch anyone.”

What I continue to find odd is the notion that defending Obama is somehow anti-racist, or that the simple act of electing him has propelled America into a post-racial state. There is a very odd allegiance paid to Obama by the democratic “intellectual” elite, despite his contempt for traditional liberal policies. The hypocrisy is glaring. The reality is that Black America is deeper in poverty than in 2008, the distance between the rich and poor is as bad as it was in the 20's, the Obama DEA has deported far more immigrants than W., and the Obama foreign policy is WORSE than Bush's. I think we are seeing the emergence of a centrist party in the US as the Democratic party. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to reflect “worker” values and traditional progressive policies like the old Democratic party. 5 years in, Obama has served the interests of the establishment and big business far more than he has helped the impoverished and the black community. I sincerely hope the next 3 years reflect a turn-around in policy.

Racial motivation toward Obama clearly exists, but there are no examples provided in this article to tie *political* racism with the actions of congress. I, personally, have _no clue_ what it's like to live day-in day-out as a black american, but I can't help but wonder why Obama is getting a pass from liberals on supporting policies that prop up institutional racism in this country. This article sheds some light on that question for me.

“Weirdly, I just realized that through all my writing, this has been the first time in my life I’ve personally gone to bat for a black man. It just happens that he’s a president. But my emotional stake in his life is now personal.”

Whether or not he “just realized” that he is defending a black man is questionable, but to the author, this has clearly become a mission of justice. He is passionately supportive of Obama, driven by a deep emotional desire. I appreciate his, and other Democrats concern to defend Obama against unjust (sometimes racist) criticism. My problem (and opinion) is that, for many, this sense of justice in the defense of Obama is inflexible and unrealistic. When Obama himself supports and implements policies that are bitterly unjust (war, drug war, doj prosecutions, ICE deportations, economic policy hostile to the poor,) the same Democrats/liberals will ignore it. I wonder if they believe that retreating in their defense of Obama will somehow collapse this portion of their belief system sustained by President Obama and take America two steps back in race relations. I don't know the answer.

I believe that it's just as important to stand up to Obama when he is wrong as it is to stand up to conservatives when they are wrong about him. Giving him a free pass because he's a “brilliant, civil, kind, humble, compassionate, moderate, articulate, black intellectual” can be just as damaging as obstructing him because he's a black intellectual. Truth isn't party/belief dependent and poverty doesn't care what color the president/fed/bankers are.

As for the lynching equivocation… I cannot get over how wrong this is, metaphor or not. The author does NOT know what lynching is as evidenced here:

“So I’ve changed from a white guy who used to read news about some black man getting shot or beaten by cops or stand-your-ground types who assumed that the black man must have “done something,” to a white guy who figures that the black man was probably getting lynched. I’ve changed ideology but I’ve also changed my gut intuitive reactions.”

Lynching is not simply being beaten or shot by cops… it is a uniquely grotesque torturous violent encounter worse than much of what you would even see in war. Victims do not survive. They are not able to bring a law suit against the perpetrator. It is an expression of the worship of violent destruction of life jointly engaged in by a crowd outside of or supported by law enforcement. (If you are a christian, it can be seen as a celebration of death and rejection the essence of Jesus, an anti-eucharist if you will.) In this country, Lynchings were deeply racist and they were a perfect expression of hatred toward the victim for the simple reason of skin color.

To compare this type of event to even the worst racially motivated verbal jabs at Obama, is deeply insulting to those three people hanging from a tree, caught by a picture the author flippantly snagged from the internet. He probably doesn't even know their names.

Politics


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