Former President Jimmy Carter in an address to Emory University students Wednesday:
“When a radical fringe element of demonstrators and others begin to attack the president of the United States as an animal or as a reincarnation of Adolf Hitler, or when they wave signs in the air that said we should have buried Obama with Kennedy, those kinds of things are beyond the bounds,
“I think people who are guilty of that kind of personal attack against Obama have been influenced to a major degree by a belief that he should not be president because he happens to be African-American.
“It’s a racist attitude, and my hope is and my expectation is that in the future both Democratic leaders and Republican leaders will take the initiative in condemning that kind of unprecedented attack on the president of the United States.”
Yes, these attacks are unprecedented because Obama’s presidency is unprecedented. As our former president reminds us, these attacks are from “a radical fringe element” in our society. Or, are they?
So many times over the last few days I have thought about the following quote from President Theodore Roosevelt:
"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public."
So, are we on the left hypocritical in condemning the right, having so arduously criticized George W. Bush?.
Yes, we spoofed his slaughter of the King’s English. He did so himself.
But, we also criticized his policies, most notably an unnecessary war for which we are still paying the price in blood and treasure.
We fought against his efforts, in tandem with a Republican-heavy legislative branch, to overturn all that had been accomplished in this country for decades.
We exposed the many scandals at every level of his administration.
Throughout Bush’s tenure as president, I – and many bloggers I count as friends - struggled to …
Well, Thomas Jefferson in stating his aim when writing the Declaration of Independence said it best: “To place before mankind the common sense of the subject, in terms so plain and firm as to command their assent.”
That’s pretty lofty, but it doesn’t amount to a hill of beans if folks turn a deaf ear to facts.
To be honest, we on the left also have our “radical fringe element,” and, yes, I recall seeing references in blog comments comparing Bush to Hitler.
Here’s the difference:
President Carter got it wrong. The truly egregious comments about President Obama are not limited to a radical fringe element. The most damning lies are coming from a former GOP candidate, Republican governors and Republican members of the U.S. Congress.
To construe every criticism of President Obama as “racist” would be a mistake and, in my opinion, unfair to him.
But, how does one explain personal attacks so devoid of facts they border on the absurd?
Are the racists out there only on the right’s fringe, or are they front and center in the Party which once claimed Abraham Lincoln?
I would like to believe the answer to the latter question is “no,” but, as Carter challenged, leaders of both parties must take the initiative to condemn racism against our president, however subtle or disguised it might be.
There are currently 178 Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives. Earlier this week, 179 House members failed to censure Joe Wilson (R-SC) for wrongly calling the president of the United States a liar.
Not much in the way of condemnation of a man who voted to keep the Confederate battle flag flying over South Carolina's statehouse.
The election of President Obama was a positive statement about race relations in this country. Failure to reinforce this will not bode well for the Republican Party or America.