Now that he’s gone from the White House (forever, one hopes), it is time to ascertain when Barack Obama became an overt black racist. Some will opine that he always has been, which may be true, but is less important than the racial divisiveness that occurred on the national scene between 2009 and 2017. I shall eschew commenting on his record as a youth, a community organizer, and an Illinois politico. Let’s stick to his legacy at the national level.
Some say Obama’s dislike of America undergirds what he did, but anti-white sentiments better explain his behavior, especially after 2012.
The historian in me says it’s too soon to have the perspective needed to make any definitive judgments on this topic. The political scientist in me, on the other hand, says Obama has a record and we need to explore it. Since my ultimate graduate degree is in Political Science, I shall apply that discipline’s standards.
Obama emerged on the national scene with his keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. We begin there.
If you read the transcript of that speech, you’d believe that the Barack Obama of 2004 sincerely believed in America’s unity. Aspiring candidates for national office give lip service to views that will “play in Peoria,” but set that aside. At one point, he told the delegates “[t]here’s not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there’s the United States of America.” He added, “[w]e are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.”
In his only direct reference to race, Obama criticized “the slander that says a black youth with a book is acting white.”
Elected to the U.S. Senate in 2006, Obama was actively seeking the presidency within months. The gist of his campaign in 2007 and 2008, insofar as it related to the race issue, was to be post-racial. As a product of a mixed-race relationship, Obama could not escape the question of race, which was made even more pertinent following revelations of incendiary remarks by his long-time pastor, Jeremiah Wright. Obama tried to defuse the more divisive implications of Wright’s rants in a major address given in mid-March, 2008.
Although his acolytes in the mainstream media (MSM) quickly opined that Obama had defused the issue, a careful reading of that speech suggests otherwise.
Although, at points, Obama seemed to challenge Wright’s belief that racism was endemic and a perpetual feature of American society, he also asserted that the Constitution, even though it contained the principles that would end the institution, “was stained by this nation’s original sin of slavery.” He also asserted that he could no more disown Wright than he could either the black community or his white grandmother. Obama stated that blacks and whites “all want to move in the same direction,” but he eventually made clear that America had much to do to perfect that part of its union pertaining to race, presumably because Americans “have never really worked though” racial questions.
Obama also called for black men to take more responsibility for the children they sired in his 2008 Father’s Day speech in Chicago. That speech, however, caused an outcry among some African American spokesmen. Subsequent Father’s Day addresses did not have overt racial connections.
Even after he became Chief Executive, Obama tried to maintain a façade of racial even-handedness, although his nomination of Eric Holder to be Attorney General should have alerted us to potential problems. Almost as soon as Holder became AG, he refused to imprison two New Black Panthers found guilty of voter intimidation in Philadelphia. It wasn’t long before the Obama/Holder-led Department of Justice manifested an unwillingness to prosecute African Americans accused of racially motivated violations of whites’ civil liberties.
A turning-point in Obama’s statements regarding race occurred in mid-July 2009 when, after Cambridge (MA) police arrested Harvard Professor Henry Gates, Obama’s friend, for disorderly conduct, Obama said that, although he did not know all the facts, Cambridge police “acted stupidly” in arresting Gates. Soon thereafter, Obama was forced to hold a “beer summit”between himself, Vice President Joe Biden, Prof. Gates, and Cambridge policeman, Sgt. James Crowley.
Thereafter, Obama’s even-handedness in matters of race became less evident.
In the aftermath of “white Hispanic” George Zimmerman’s killing of African American Trayvon Martin in 2012, for example, Obama made his sympathies for the latter very obvious. He blurted out that, “[i]f I had a son, he would look like Trayvon.” The Obama administration and the DOJ provided assistance to the prosecution’s ultimately unsuccessful effort to convict Zimmerman.
The Obama administration also pursued one-sided policies in the aftermath of the killing of African American Michael Brown by a white Ferguson (MO) policeman on August 9 2014. When race riots immediately broke out, the Obama/Holder-led DOJ sent agents to investigate the “gentle giant’s” death, but had to accept a grand jury’s decision not to charge Darren Wilson, a decision followed by another round of race riots.
By late summer, early fall of 2014, any sense that Obama was interested in racial healing was threadbare.
One consequence of the crisis in Ferguson was the emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement, an overtly black racist organization which had begun after the Zimmerman-Martin incident, but had not received nationwide attention.
Shortly after a raucus demonstration against police in New York City, Obama invited leaders of this racist clique to visit the White House.
In short, Obama’s tack vis-á-vis race had shifted full-bore away from racial harmony.
Public opinion polls provide insights into public perceptions of trends in American race relations. Look at the Gallup poll, which asked the same question on several occasions: “Would you say relations between whites and blacks are very good, somewhat good, somewhat bad, or very bad.”
In mid-2008, 70% of whites said race relations were “very/somewhat” good, 29% opined they were “somewhat/very” bad, and 2% had no opinion. In mid 2016, 55% thought they were “very/somewhat” good, 44% opined they were “somewhat/very” bad, and 1% had no opinion. Among blacks in 2008, 61% thought race relations were “very/somewhat” good, 37% believed they were “somewhat/very” bad, and 1% had no opinion. By 2016, 49% of blacks still thought race relations were “very/somewhat” good,” but 50% said they were “somewhat/very” bad, and less than one percent had no opinion.
Some polls show larger shifts in opinions about the state of race relations before and after Obama entered the White House, and they are always toward worsened perspectives, especially among African Americans. Far from being a racial uniter, Obama was a divider.
In short, both whites’ and blacks’ views of race relations soured while Obama was Chief Executive. If Obama believed that by becoming more overtly racialist, he would witness improvements in blacks’ perceptions of race relations, he had to be disappointed. One wonders, therefore, what the price of a president’s overt black racism is.
Obama’s record on race relations indicates what may happen when the MSM refuses to vet an aspiring presidential candidate.