GUEST COMMENTARY: Disagreeing with Obama does not equal racism

Thursday, September 24, 2009 | 12:01 p.m. CDT; updated 11:01 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, May 4, 2010

My wife and I recently visited our son, a freshman, during MU's Family Weekend. We are very proud of our son who is intending to major in journalism. Having heard great things about Missouri's School of Journalism and its daily paper, the Columbia Missourian, I found the September 11-12 edition and devoured it front to back. Being away from university life for nearly 25 years, I thought I should pay particular attention to the political leanings of the paper, especially in light of the Pew Research Center’s recent poll that shows over two-thirds of Americans believe there is bias in the media or news. I was particularly drawn to George Kennedy’s op-ed column titled, “Lack of civility shows America’s ugly side." 

Yes, this was an op-ed piece, but I would expect a “professor emeritus” to check his facts and give a balanced view of what is happening in America today. Kennedy’s article was regarding Rep. Joe Wilson’s shout out “You lie!” during President Obama’s health care speech. Wilson shouted out after Obama declared that illegal immigrants will be excluded from insurance coverage. Kennedy states that Obama’s assertion was “demonstrably truthful.”  While House Resolution 3200 does not allow for health care for illegal immigrants, it does not provide for any enforcement of that provision.

It's kind of like setting a speed limit on the highway and right next to it posting a sign that states the highway patrol does not have the authority to hand out speeding tickets. Wilson shouted out “You lie!” knowing that two Republican amendments were voted down in committee which would have required proof of citizenship in order to qualify for benefits. It is interesting that now after the shout out, the Senate is making sure that there are provisions to enforce the exclusion. I guess the devil is in the details.    

I think everyone would agree that a joint session of Congress is not the place to confront the president. Kennedy states that Wilson apologized to Obama (which was accepted by both the president and vice president), but he thought that the shout-out was probably more sincere. And that is correct; Wilson apologized for shouting out during the address, not for calling Obama a liar.

Truthfully, it is about time that someone has had the guts to call this president a liar, which he is. Obama promised before the election to not have any lobbyists in his administration, to have all legislation posted on his Web site for 72 hours before signing it and to have the most transparent administration ever. Which of these promises has he kept?

Obama continues to state that if you like the health insurance that you have, you can keep it. While on the surface this appears to be true, his statement is disingenuous at best and more likely to be untrue. When you dig into what HR 3200 says, what amendments were defeated, and what Washington legislators say, Obama’s statement doesn’t hold up. I, like many other Americans, have a high deductible Health Savings Account plan and I like it. These HSA plans are not specifically mentioned in HR 3200, however the House committees and the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee give the HHS secretary broad authority to impose whatever plan mandates he or she wants on all plans in the Health Insurance Exchange. Reps. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., and Phil Gingrey, R-Ga., offered an amendment in the House Energy and Commerce Committee that would protect peoples option to use HSAs.  That amendment was defeated along party lines. Congressman Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., offered an amendment in the same committee that would have ensured that existing health plans could continue to provide coverage to its enrollees.  That amendment was defeated as well.  Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., has stated on numerous occasions that he wants HSAs abolished.

Kennedy somehow tries to state that Wilson’s rudeness and the hissing and booing from other Republicans was tied to the paranoia that Richard Hofstadter wrote about 45 years ago. He doesn’t say anything about the left’s rudeness to President George W. Bush, especially during his 2005 State of the Union speech.  I suppose that the Democrats were not paranoid and were correct in their rudeness.  He states that "Paranoia isn’t a right-wing disease, but in this country the right has usually been equipped with the bigger megaphones.”  I’m still trying to figure out which megaphones he is talking about. ABC which is in bed with Obama?  NBC which is owned by GE and is getting rich off of “green technology”? Cute Katie at CBS?  The New York Times?  What are the “bigger megaphones” that Kennedy is talking about?

Kennedy is right, there does seem to be a real lack of civility in the U.S., especially in Washington. Besides the Democrats booing Bush at the 2005 State of the Union address, we have had Harry Reid stating the Bush was a liar and Nancy Pelosi calling the CIA liars.  Neither one has apologized. John Kerry accused young American soldiers of going into the homes of Iraqis in the dead of night and terrorizing women and children, and John Murtha accused the Marines of going into houses and killing civilians in Haditha. Both of these allegations were proven false and neither of these men has offered an apology.

And last, Kennedy does the unthinkable, he pulls out the race card! Lately the left has done this when they can’t argue with facts. They just call you a racist. Kennedy states in a recent national poll that 25 percent of the nation refuses to believe that Obama was born in the U.S. This group of people is known as the “Birthers," and most on the right want nothing to do with them. Since we just had the eighth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attack we could also discuss the other lunatic fringe, the “9/11 Truthers."  This group believes that Bush and the government either knew about or were behind the terrorists attacks on 9/11, and that Bush planned them so that the U.S. could go to war in the Middle East. A recent poll shows that roughly one-third of Americans believe this. The majority of these people are on the left. Can we agree that there are lunatics on both sides and not lump all on the right as being “Birthers” and those on the left as being “Truthers”?  

Kennedy states that the grassroots ground swelling (he called it orchestrated) of opposition at last month’s town halls was evidence of this racism. He questions why else would there be caricatures of monkeys and pictures of Hitler at the town hall meetings and the tea parties? I think what he meant to say there was caricatures of Obama, because directly above Kennedy’s article is a political cartoon with a caricature of Obama. Caricatures are drawings that point out and exaggerate one’s features. A caricature of Jay Leno would point out his big chin. One of Bob Hope would exaggerate his nose. In Obama’s case the caricature pointed out the size of his ears in relation to his head size. I didn’t think it made him look like a monkey, but apparently Kennedy did. Underneath the caricature were the words, “With ears like that you think that you’d be listening." 

It seems that no one can disagree with this president on anything without being called a racist. The people at the town halls and the tea parties are very concerned about the direction their country is going in, not because there is a black president in the White House, but because they disagree with his policies. They don’t want government health care (just what has the government done well?), and they are tired of the bank bailouts, auto bailouts, TARP,  the stimulus bill, cap and trade and the more than 30 czars that have enormous power without any congressional oversight.  They want the freedom and liberty to be able to live their life as they see fit, and that includes their health care. They understand that there is going to be a time when we can’t even pay the interest on the debt. They want answers to their questions. Do you actually believe that $50 billion can be saved by cutting out fraud in Medicare?  Why isn’t it being cut out right now?  After all, the program is going bankrupt!

Kennedy “googled” Wilson to find out he is a 62-year-old real estate lawyer, a native of South Carolina, a Presbyterian, father of four, and oh yea, his real name isn’t Joseph, it’s Addison Graves. To save Kennedy the time on “googling” me, I’ll do it for him. I am a 50-year-old white, self-employed dentist and I pay over $100,000 personally to the federal government in taxes each year. I am wealthy enough to be able to live in any neighborhood or school district I want or send my children to any private school that I would choose. However, my wife and I decided to live in a diverse school district, both economically and racially. My kids were the minority at their high school, 60 percent being African-American. They saw the good, the bad and the ugly. They had African-Americans as their baby sitters, friends and classmates. Currently one of my children has an African-American as a roommate and the other one is dating an African-American. We talk the talk and walk the walk. Disagreeing with the president doesn’t make you a racist. 

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Ray Shapiro September 24, 2009 | 5:56 p.m.

(...Kennedy does the unthinkable, he pulls out the race card! Lately the left has done this when they can’t argue with facts. They just call you a racist...
Disagreeing with the president doesn’t make you a racist.")
Thank you Dr. Gase for a fine article.
Methinks you're wisdom teeth are still intact.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr September 24, 2009 | 6:38 p.m.

>>> avatarcourt says...
Not all republicans hate black people. But all people who hate black people are republicans. <<<

I tend to agree with this statement from all I have seen in the media and through public opinion the last couple of years.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith September 24, 2009 | 6:44 p.m.

Sometimes the difference between what's being called journalism and what's really theater appears to be paper thin. However that may only be a serious problem when the journalists themselves can't recognize the difference.

(Report Comment)
Paul Meyer September 24, 2009 | 7:00 p.m.

Thanks Dr Gase.

Mr Dudley, have you ever heard of Robert Byrd DEMOCRAT from West Virginia? He was grand pooh pah of the KKK. I think he might be racist. He couldn't recall if he or others ordered any lynchings of blacks during his leadership in the KKK.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro September 24, 2009 | 7:57 p.m.

RACISM is the BELIEF that a particular race is superior or inferior to another, that a person’s social and moral traits are predetermined by his or her inborn biological characteristics. Racial separatism is the belief, most of the time based on racism, that different races should remain segregated and apart from one another.
(Source Anti-Defamation League)

HATE, fear, anger and guilt are EMOTIONS.

Hence, RACISM and HATE are two separate things.

Then of course there's the blame game and scapegoats.
Globally, outside of the Republican and Democrat name calling of "haters," there's the apartheid system of colonial and racist domination.
(I couldn't say who or when anyone experienced the emotion of hatred with this political/racist approach to living, but I assume, as human beings were involved, emotions ran wild.)
Chuck, I consider the comment made by avatarcourt to be a false statement.
What value do you place on associating Republicans with any feelings of hatred towards blacks?

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr September 25, 2009 | 4:17 a.m.
This comment has been removed.
Ray Shapiro September 25, 2009 | 9:48 a.m.

If you believe that lefty progressives are champions of the poor, you are sadly mistaken.
They are tempting and using the poor and placing guilt on the "bleeding hearts" while advancing their agenda of a one world order. (ie ACORN)
Instead of small "mom and pop" business loans or direct assistance to those in need of foreclosure reorganization, I've seen the democrats "bail out" and practically now own banks, insurance companies, auto manufacturers...only to realize that they now want to "own" the health care industry. (Consider that Republicans have not been "embraced" by the new administration to sit down and formulate a "small government" true free market health care measures.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro September 25, 2009 | 9:49 a.m.

("John Palatiello, president of the public affairs consulting firm John Palatiello & Associates, said that President Obama’s plans to continue to expand government while the private sector struggles is a strange way to go about strengthening the economy.

“[This trend] creates a very interesting and unfortunate irony: You have rising unemployment in the private sector and you have rising employment in the government sector,” he said. “It seems to me that, if you really want to stimulate the economy, you should do the opposite.”

“You should be trying to get more and more things out of the government and into the private sector because that has a much more stimulative effect,” said Palatiello. “You should put the brakes on some forms of government spending and increase the number of people who are on payrolls, paying taxes and employed in private sector jobs.”

The Obama administration has indicated that many more federal jobs are on the way. Last week, the president unveiled a $3.6 trillion budget that included a variety of projects in education, health care and energy independence.

Experts have suggested that to accomplish the goals set out in the budget, hundreds of thousands of workers will need to be added to the government’s payroll. Independent estimates set the number of new workers needed at 100,000, while the conservative Heritage Foundation said the number could be as high as 450,000.

Bill Beach, director of the center for data analysis at the Heritage Foundation, said the group analyzed the effects of the recently passed American Recovery and Reinvestment Act based on the details available.

After applying the details to a large scale U.S. economic model, the center determined that there will be a rapid acceleration in public sector employment starting this year and continuing through 2012.")
source and more:
Private Sector Jobs Decline, Government Jobs Increase
And, here's a great response to your Trib poster:

("glassa says...

There are a small minority of people who are racist in their criticism. That little fact is not stopping most of his supporters from using it as a political tactic to stop any and all criticism and opposition to whatever the man wants to do. He is NOT the first president to face opposition. MLK did not die so that the first black president and his supporters could scream "omg racism" anytime problems arose. I think MLK would be severely disappointed that people are using race as a battering ram to bully anyone who dares question the President of the United States.
The Democratic Party is quickly becoming the Boy Who Cried Wolf in using the race card. There is REAL racism in this country and they are just watering down the meaning of the word.

September 25, 2009 at 8:01 a.m.")

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro September 25, 2009 | 10:07 a.m.

("Many have wondered how ANYONE AS EXTREME AS Obama’S “Green Jobs Czar” Van Jones – a self-described “Communist” obsessed with racial conspiracy theories – could have been named to head a federal agency. David Horowitz described the radicalization of the Democratic Party as the appointment’s subtext. Closer to the fore, Jones owed his elevation to another new factor: the unparalleled influence of Valerie Jarrett. To call Jarrett a presidential adviser, even a close adviser, is misleading. She is an alter ego, an inner conscience, a touchstone of clarity for both President Obama and first lady Michelle. In the frenzy of the presidency, she reminds both Obamas of their identity and deepest-held beliefs. In exchange, the president makes no decision without her and has said she can “speak for me.” Unfortunately, she is also a racially polarizing elitist. She obtained her first foothold in Chicago politics through the patronage of a former SDS radical who regrets “nothing” about her role in the Days of Rage and ventured in 2003 that she “would probably reject violence as a useful form of revolution.” The same radical tried to persuade Rod Blagojevich to name Jarrett to Obama’s empty senate seat. Instead, Jarrett has served as a conduit of far-leftists into the administration.")
source and more:

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr September 25, 2009 | 10:22 a.m.
This comment has been removed.
Ray Shapiro September 25, 2009 | 10:39 a.m.

What makes you think progressives care about you?
(And, I'd appreciate it if you do not drag my personal life into this idealogical debate.)
You are also a fool to insinuate that I am with any "in-crowd."
(As you well know, I do not fare well with any crowd.)
I am through conversing with you.
Stay well, Chuck.
Good bye, Missourian.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr September 25, 2009 | 8:34 p.m.
This comment has been removed.

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