Page 3 of 5   <       >

A Black-and-White Question

"I received an email from a long time reader yesterday who was concerned I couldn't see that the protests were, at bottom, 'anti-American, racist, and dangerous . . . ' There's nothing 'anti-American' about protesting anything. We are, after all, a nation born out of protest, nurtured in the bosom of contrarianism, and defining progress by going against the grain in order to right significant wrongs in our society. This is not 'dangerous' by any stretch of the imagination - except to the comfort of the elites who always believe it dangerous when the hoi polloi become restless and disagree that only they in their superior wisdom are fit to tell the rest of us what to do.

"As for the charge of the protest being 'racist,' well, that's nonsense. If you're going to tar an entire movement with that epitaph based on the beliefs of a tiny fraction, then you should have no trouble referring to the civil rights movement of the 1960's as a 'Communist' movement since the CPUSA played a prominent role in the SCLC and other civil rights organizations. The same holds true for the anti-war movement where you couldn't attend a protest without tripping over a Communist or two."

By the way, when I referred Monday to efforts to cash in on his presidency by Obama's "native country," I obviously meant that Kenya was his ancestral homeland. Sorry for the sloppy choice of words.

Beyond the racial question, more journalists are examining the growth of the anti-Obama protest movement. "Amid a rebirth of conservative activism that could help Republicans win elections next year," says the L.A. Times, "some party insiders now fear that extreme rhetoric and conspiracy theories coming from the angry reaches of the conservative base are undermining the GOP's broader credibility and casting it as the party of the paranoid.

"Such insiders point to theories running rampant on the Internet, such as the idea that Barack Obama was born in Kenya and is thus ineligible to be president, or that he is a communist, or that his allies want to set up Nazi-like detention camps for political opponents. Those theories, the insiders say, have stoked the GOP base and have created a 'purist' climate in which a figure such as Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) is lionized for his 'You lie!' outburst last week when Obama addressed Congress.

"They are 'wild accusations and the paranoid delusions coming from the fever swamps,' said David Frum, a conservative author and speechwriter for President George W. Bush who is among the more vocal critics of the party base and of the conservative talk show hosts helping to fan the unrest."

At the Daily Beast, John Avlon uses all kinds of adjectives other than racist:

"The weirdness of the Wingnut summer isn't over. The anger has metastasized into the body politic, and it's going to get a lot uglier from here.

"Obama Derangement Syndrome is establishing itself as a potent political force, able to rally tens of thousands of citizens to the Washington Mall after Glenn Beck's call. Joe Wilson's outburst isn't an embarrassment of incivility to these folks; it is a rallying cry for an army of useful idiots. But Republicans will soon find that they cannot contain or moderate this strain--while Democrats won't understand what hit them.

"The wave of white people that descended on Washington, D.C., this Saturday wasn't motivated by simple racism, as some liberals might wish--at least that's what the lady waving the Confederate flag told me. No, this was something else: a pent-up frustration at unprecedented Washington overspending and an individualistic resentment of the welfare state, all mixed with a dose of self-referential patriotism and a spicy dash of paranoia."

How's He Doing?

A USA Today poll has Obama at 54 percent, while a CNN survey has him at 58 percent.

Obama vs. Kanye

"Nightline" co-anchor Terry Moran tweeted Monday that "Pres. Obama just called Kanye West a 'jackass' for his outburst at VMAs when Taylor Swift won. Now THAT'S presidential."

<          3           >

© 2009 The Washington Post Company