This week, there has been much ado about Jimmy Carter's comments that suggested that much of the fringe right-wing attack against President Obama is rooted in racial animus. Many Blacks, familiar with recognizing racial discrimination and having said the same thing for months, applauded the former President for his remarks. However, many political pundits in the media, such as Morning Joe talk show host, Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, have made the common logically fallacious leap of broadening Carter's words into the proposition that anybody who criticizes President Obama is a racist. Thus began the week-long debate over whether or not anybody who speaks out against Obama is a racist. Not only is such a proposition incorrect (people can obviously criticize Obama without being racist), but it is also not what former President Carter said. He said:
"I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man."
So unless you are one of the people "intensely demonstrating animosity" then, quite frankly, former President Carter was not talking about you. In other words, pundits like Scarborough and Brzezinski should take the straw man argument elsewhere and stick to what was actually said.
However, everything discussed so far is merely the foundation for the latest controversy over the Carter statements. I have received many e-mails, phone calls and text messages regarding the new and improved controversy that many of you are now having a problem with surrounding Carter-gate, and it actually has less to do with Carter and more to do with Obama.
Yesterday, President Obama's soft-spoken press secretary, Robert Gibbs, said the following:
"The president does not believe that that criticism comes based on the color of his skin."
Jaws across America hit the floor simultaneously. Everybody who applauded Carter's astute observation on Monday struggled on Wednesday to understand how the first Black President could drop the former President's perfectly placed alley-oop pass. So let's get this straight...millions of Americans in the fringe-Right, who have clearly evidenced racial animus towards the President with their proclamations of taking "their country back [from the Black guy]" were finally called out by a credible white political figure, and the Black President comes back and says "no they're not racist." WTF?
We know that political protocol dictates that Obama has to walk a fine line down the middle in order to get re-elected in 2012, but sometimes hanging out in the political "safe zone" is just as damaging as taking a stand on a controversial issue. Sometimes, by walking down the middle, you alienate those who would be your biggest supporters.
The fringe Right has made it clear, they are never going to support Obama. Mr. President, perhaps it is finally time to write them off.
Should Obama take a stand on the issue of race here or should he play it safe?