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Such a mystery!

By Amanda Marcotte
Wednesday, October 14, 2009 23:41 EDT
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Jamelle at Post-Bougie reports on a new Rasmussen poll that shows that only 14% of African-Americans polled agreed that America is a fair and decent place, compared to 55% back in February. That is a precipitous drop, but those of us observing American politics since Obama’s inauguration aren’t really in a place to be surprised by this. And those of us observing wingnuts being wingnuts shouldn’t be surprised that said wingnuts blame black Americans and white liberals, who they routinely assume are able to push around black people with ease. Jamelle dug into Assrocket at Powerline arguing that this is basically evidence that black people are gullible.

The only possible answer is that many Americans have opposed President Obama’s policies. But why would that cause African-Americans to think that our society is “discriminatory” rather than “decent”? No mystery there: in a well-coordinated campaign, the Democratic Party has relentlessly portrayed all disagreement with the Obama administration’s policies as “racist.” That contemptible and divisive tactic had seemed to produce no results, but we now see that it had one consequence: alienating African-Americans from their country.

The only theory he’ll accept is that there’s been a campaign to trick black people into assuming that there’s racism where there isn’t. And that they’d be so easily fooled. Not that what he’s saying doesn’t fall right in line with the usual conservative mythology that presents black voters as sheep that follow white liberal shepherds, because conservative literally cannot accept that black voters who vote for Democrats might do so because they want to. This assumption is 2 parts racism and 1 part unwilling to admit that the racism of Republican politics drives off black voters. But it’s 100% offensive, because the assumption is that black people are feeble, or they’d be able to see through the evil lies spun by the Liberal Mafia of Hollywood Elites. I submit instead that the perception that this society isn’t fair and decent is an evidence-based belief. For instance, the very next blog I read after Post-Bougie was Sadly, No, and look at what they found.

Tammy Bruce is not some fringe right wing blogger with no traffic. She’s a talk radio show host, a frequent contributor on Fox News, and she even fronts like she’s a centrist who is pro-gay and pro-choice. Well, she may be those things, but she’s also a mega-watt asshole who just used a picture to call the President by a nasty racial slur. Of course, she’s claiming now that it’s stupid to suggest there’s anything racist about calling the President a “coon”, but as we all know, that claim will be trotted out no matter how ridiculously false it is.

Of course, the 41% of black respondents to the survey who changed their mind between February and now have probably not seen Tammy Bruce’s site specifically. But the sad thing is, hers is far from an isolated case. We’ve all been subjected to months of screaming from conservatives who simply cannot stand either that there’s a black President or that there’s a potential for health care reform that would ideally go a long way to rectifying the vast differences in health outcomes experienced by the average black patient and white patient in this country. Bruce’s little raccoon joke is just part of a larger tapestry of Confederate flags, screaming white people at town halls, and the unmistakable stench of a white conservative freakout at the very idea that this is not just their country, but that it belongs to all of us. The sheer numbers of people participating in the freakout are depressing, because it really feels like the mask is being ripped off and the racist resentment and anger of huge quantities of white people is pouring out all at once. It’s, at the very least, unnerving.

What really bugs me is that 55% of white people said that this country is a fair and decent place. This is demonstrably untrue, since this is a country that tolerates an insurance company denying a 4-month-old baby coverage because he’s “obese”. Any country where someone could suggest that the 4-month-old hop on the treadmill is a society that has way too high a tolerance for extreme stupidity.

Giving the 55% the benefit of the doubt, however, asking people if our society is fair and decent is a loaded question. Your answer is really going to depend on if you’re thinking about the big picture or just people you know. Like, if the term “society” made me think about people in terms of who you deal with on a day to day basis, I’d be more inclined to say “yes”, because it’s true that most people wait their turn in line, say “excuse me”, believe that Roman Polanski should go to jail for raping a child, etc. But if I was thinking about “society” in a more political frame of mind, and you flash on those crazy teabaggers and the fact that many of our Senators are more interested in paying tribute to insurance companies than the health of the nation, then I’d be inclined to say “no”.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
 
 
 
 
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