If anyone had doubts about how great the problem of racism is in the U.S. the Obama presidency will have dispelled them, surely. Yes, I know: every criticism of President Obama doesn’t spring from racism, and the same goes for every problem he has had. Also, he has flaws.
At the same time, if one were to remove his being Black from the equation, the Tea Party might not exist at all, and even if it did, its ferocity would pale, so to speak, in comparison to what it is now.
Why, just yesterday, a gathering of Tea Party “activists” outside the White House featured . . . a man waving a Confederate flag and a Marine Corps flag at the White House; a White man, Larry Klayman, asking the President to put down the Q’ran and come out with his hands up; and the implicit approval of such behavior by Senator Ted Cruz and the inimitable Sarah Palin.
Republicans (and others) like to speak of “entitlements,” and even used the term to refer to Social Security, which is an annuity. Thus I am “entitled,” to their way of thinking, to social-security payments because I have paid into the fund. That’s quite an entitlement. If I pay for a cup of coffee at a cafe, I suppose I’m “entitled” to it in some extravagant, “liberal” way, too.
The entitlement that really counts in the U.S. is Whiteness. It even trumps wealth, believe it or not, although Whiteness and Wealth have been dating for a good long while in the U.S.
Consider this: New Gingrich, who I believe knows how to count, especially when it comes to politics, opined the other day on CNN that “Ted Cruz represents [in his thinking and action] about 20% of [voting] Americans.” Another way to put it is that the Tea Party represents about the same percentage: 20. And yet the Tea Party desire to “break” Obama, in this case by defunding the Affordable Health Care Act or, failing that, disrupting the financial well being of the U.S., has driven the budget negotiations of the world’s biggest national economy. That is power; that is minority power; that is entitlement.
In the U.S., White intensity almost always trumps any other kind of political intensity. It will not be denied because it believes devoutly in White supremacy. It wants to make the President “Kenyan” and “Muslim” so as to make him both Black and un-American and thereby illegitimate. It wants to eviscerate a practical health-care plan (albeit a classically idiosyncratic one, in American terms: we don’t want no single-payer!) because it is “his” plan. White intensity, White anger, will always seek to de-legitimize fair and square victories, fair debates, fair elections, and regular order, including that of “budget-talks.” If White entitlement isn’t given its due, there is always Hell to pay: look at the legacy of Jim Crow, lynching, a race-based justice system, the continuing back-lash against Civil Rights legislation (more than 40 years old), Reagan’s war on drugs and “welfare queens,” and so on.
Even White guys in power--Boehner and McConnell, at whom the Chamber of Commerce and Wall Street must be screaming right now–can’t control White entitlement. Ponder that for a moment.
Amazing. And not.