Jimmy Carter acknowledges/embodies racism

Look, I like getting on the web and yelling about politics and current events as much as the next guy. But there’s a right and a wrong way to do it, and if we’re going to waste our time with loud debates that ultimately won’t change a thing, then we ought to at least behave like we know what we’re talking about.

Now, I’m only going to say this once, so pay attention. This is what Jimmy Carter said yesterday about Barack Obama and his opposition:

“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, that he’s African American. I live in the South, and I’ve seen the South come a long way, and I’ve seen the rest of the country that shared the South’s attitude toward minority groups at that time, particularly African Americans.”

He also predicted that Obama will be able to “triumph over the racist attitude that is the basis for the negative environment that we see so vividly demonstrated in public affairs in recent days.”

But that’s it. For the record, I don’t agree that racism is the “basis” of the opposition to Obama. I certainly don’t think the Joe Wilson outburst was “based on racism,” as Carter claimed this morning. Partisan bitterness, misinformation, ignorance and fear are the more likely culprits in both cases. Racism’s up there, sure, but it’s not the basis.

But hey, you know what? Racism is still a really big problem in America. Not only that, but there are a lot of Americans whose opposition to Obama stems at least in part from their discomfort with the fact that a black man is president. These are facts, and if you’re not ready to acknowledge them, then you’re not ready to have a mature conversation about race in America. I’m sorry, but there you go.

It’s no surprise that people are up in arms about Carter’s remarks, but many of them are mad for the wrong reasons. Lots of people have condemned him for suggesting that anyone who disagrees with Obama is a racist, despite the fact that he suggested no such thing. Predictably, a lot of people are calling Carter himself a racist, just because he dared to suggest that racism might exist. That’s the rebuttal that pisses me off more than any other, because it shuts down any dialogue on race in spite of the fact that it makes no sense whatsoever.

If we take only one lesson away from this whole debacle, then please, let it finally be this one: acknowledging racism in others and being a racist yourself are two different things.

For God’s sake, follow the logic! If Jimmy Carter calls someone a racist, and that makes him a racist, then calling him a racist would make you a racist! And me calling you a racist would make me a racist! And I don’t want to be a racist, so knock it off, damn it!

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2 Responses to “Jimmy Carter acknowledges/embodies racism”

  1. One question: where you from? If you live anywhere south of the Mason-Dixon line you are in denial. Carter is a little older and smarter than us. He’s lived in Georgia all his life. Dude knows what he’s talking about when he cites white resentment of a black man running this ‘white Christian country’ as a driving force behind the hatred for Obama.

  2. Matt says:

    Hey, thanks for posting! As the .ca will tell you, I’m a Canadian. And although it sounds like you and I are probably on the same page here, I wouldn’t mind some clarification as to what you think I’m in denial about. I have a feeling you might just be criticizing me for giving his opponents a slight benefit of the doubt.