Not Racist? You’re protesting too much!

One of the things that I took away from my time in the military was a strong distaste for ascribing statements or behavior to racism or bigotry.   While the military is by no means perfect, in general as an institution it was one of the more merit-based and color/ethnic blind organizations.   In my experience, a charge of prejudice was more often used as an excuse, not a reason.     A number of years in that environment, and you come away with an unwillingness to think “racism” or “bigoted” at first.  But, reluctantly, based on the evidence, I’ve come to the conclusion that the core of a lot of the criticism of the President, from both the Left and the Right is indeed motivated by racism.

I’ve already detailed what I’ve seen from the Right.  The major difference there is that it’s much more blatant.  But yes, it’s there on the Left as well.  One has only to look at how African-Americans are treated on various “progressive” blogs.  Constant attacks, dismissal of concerns, choices of language which often lurch into unacceptable territory.  The constant attacks on the President, all couched in “concern” about a “progressive agenda” which, remarkably, doesn’t seem to be a coherent agenda.  In fact, they often turn around and attack him for doing something they themselves have called for.  The constant, unrelenting look for things they can be angry with him about, and even the use of  of various “dog whistles,”   all lead to me to one conclusion:  It’s based on his race.

I know that a lot of the frustrati and the “professional left” are going to go ballistic reading this because  I’m calling them racists.   That’s right, I’m saying that their reason for attacking this President is because of his race.  They’re going to scream bloody blue murder about it.  But you know why I think that?   The Republicans are working to roll back women’s rights, unions, environmental protections, social programs, and education.  Social Security and Medicare are being targeted.  The programs and protections that progressives spent decades getting into place are being removed or weakened with startling speed.  Do you see a real focus on this from the Professional Left and the Frustrati?  Have they decided to spend most of their time going after Republicans?  No, they’re still spending most of their time attacking the black President.

When this has been (and it has) pointed out to them, there is a remarkable defensiveness.  They can’t be racist, after all, they’re progressives!   One well-known writer at one of the major “progressive” sites told someone that pointed this out that he couldn’t be a racist.  After all, he belonged to a group which had experienced horrible oppression, and he himself had experienced the prejudice and discrimination!  Want to know something?  That’s straight-up bullshit.  Over the years, some of the most racist and bigoted statements I have ever heard came from the mouths of members of one oppressed group and were directed at members of a different oppressed group.   The Republicans have been very good at exploiting those tensions and prejudices over the years.

I’ve heard all the defenses.  I’ve listened to the denials.  But one thing I do know:  The more someone protests that they aren’t racist, or keeps having to say that “it isn’t about race,” the more likely it is that they are and it is.   Being a liberal, a progressive, a member of a now or formerly oppressed group is not a magic excuse or preventative.  Everyone has prejudices,  stereotypes,  or has made offensive statements.   Being willing to acknowledge that, to learn and change, to apologize for it and use those lessons to grow personally is what you have to do.   It’s acknowledging that you have a problem, and you are taking steps towards correcting it.  But you first have to acknowledge it.  If you don’t,  you’ll never change.

Why do I think they’re being racist?  Because they’re protesting too much that they aren’t.



Filed under Politics

66 responses to “Not Racist? You’re protesting too much!

  1. gc

    Norbrook, I agree with you 100%. Back in my DK days I was accused of homophobia. I did NOT immediately attack, but thought about that for days. Were they right? What could I do about it? Our Pragmatic “family” of blogs has less members than the mighty Orange, but a higher relative percentage of members who are persons of color (my estimate, if I “know” them or they have mentioned their ethnicity in posts) What does that say?

    • What really made me “go there” is that I’ve been watching them for a while, and in many ways their denials are almost a mirror image of what I’ve seen from the birthers. The same denials that race has anything to do with it, it’s just a “deep concern” for the issue. Which, interestingly enough, wasn’t anyone’s concern before. In the case of various members of the PL and the frustrati, it’s been much the same. They weren’t for it before, or it wasn’t a big deal before this. Yet now, it’s a “failure” or a ‘concern’. 🙄

    • Aquagranny911

      You, too? I got that accusation once and it really confused me because I didn’t consider myself homophobic at all. But when someone says that you do stop to search your heart to find out if they see something you don’t.

      I have to say, and maybe I was wrong to do so, but I took real issue with those who equated LGBT struggles with what AA’s endured and still do in the form of institutional racism. It was apples and oranges as far as I was concerned.

      Besides, every one has unique experiences and feelings that deserve to be heard and respected. Any pain I have does not diminish or negate the pain of another. It is in discussing these issues with open minds and open hearts that we can come to heal some of the pain of racism in this country, imho.

      Sorry, carried away on one of my hobby horses…

      • gcwp1

        I ran into trouble with that same issue. When the most aggressive of the GLBT posters talked about metaphorical lynchings, it bothered me. My father is Holocaust survivor, his family was exterminated, I was waiting for them to equate that as well. And I won’t go further with that…

        The final straw was when a Kossack posted a reprint of “an ally’s” comment as a rubric for me to follow. I remember going up to P-Town during that time period -my cousin (who I presumably loathe for her sexual orientation) has a place there. I DID self analyze. Do they?

        Oh, never apologize for getting “carried away.” I love reading you.

    • fleetadmiralj

      Largely the same thing for me. I was for gay rights. I was for legislatively enacting gay marriage (I was never, and still am not, really a fan of getting it enacted via court action).

      My crime: arguing how courts could very well rule that gay marriage wasn’t a fundamental right under the constitution. When I tried to argue this? I was a homophobe. When state courts (namely Washington and I think perhaps New York) came down with ruling that pretty much mirrored what I had said, well, then we were all homophobs.

      Of course, my point was, just because something is the right thing or desirable doesn’t necessarily make it required constitutionally (and I still don’t think it is, at least based on current precedent, though that could change). However, holding that position made me a gay hater.

      • Tsk. You were a realist, in other words. How dare you? 🙄 I think that they should look at the Women’s Rights battles, particularly in the courts. Particularly, Minor v Hapersett (1874):

        The right of suffrage was not necessarily one of the privileges or immunities of citizenship before the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment, and that amendment does not add to these privileges and immunities. It simply furnishes additional guaranty for the protection of such as the citizen already had.

        In other words, instead of extending the rights, or saying that there was indeed such a right, the Court ruled there wasn’t. It ended up requiring the 20’th Amendment to give women the right to vote.

        They could even look at the various civil rights cases throughout the years. In the end, it was legislative action which really cemented them into place, not the court cases. Any time you go into court to argue that there’s an inherent “right” that isn’t explicitly stated, you run the risk of the court finding against you. It’s much better to have it in law, and have the law found constitutional.

  2. sjterrid

    Thank you for this Norbrook, I agree with you it’s mostly about race. Kucinich went on tv and said that President Obama should be impeached, because he didn’t go to Congress, when he clearly didn’t have to because of the UN Resolution. We have done this before, I don’t remember Congress asking for impeachment for any other President.
    Whatever this president does something they all go on the tv on radio and act like they know better than him. They aren’t even consistent.
    I noticed that the PL seemed angrier with the President that he didn’t go to the Wisconsin rallies than with the Republican Governors and Legislators doing everything they can to destroy the Middle Class. The head of the Unions didn’t even want him there, because they wanted it to be about the workers, yet they kept on complaining.

    • Aquagranny911

      Exactly, PL and frustrati treat PBO like the “enemy” instead of the Repubs and corporate interests who are doing there best to “sell us all to the company store….”

      If they really cared so very much for their “progressive ideals” they would be fighting everyday to stem the tides eroding all our rights in this country.

      • I Love OCD

        This is my ongoing complaint as well. I came to the same conclusion Norbrook’s come to a few weeks ago – it’s beyond infuriating for a lot of older white people that there’s a competent, intelligent, attractive black man in the White House, and they spend far too much time wiggling around trying to explain why there’s something wrong with him. I’ve never gotten an honest response when I’ve asked for links or data supporting the latest LW canard. Crickets. I’m at the point where I just ask what it is that bothers them so much about him, what exactly has he done? The answer is is pretty clear – he’s black, and we live in a country that has done a splendid job of vilifying black men, presenting them as incompetent, uneducated, dangerous, violent, and unable to marry and raise families. He’s undermined the stereotypes, and that’s made him dangerous for every person who needs those stereotypes in order to feel superior.

        They might not be wearing hoods or burning crosses but they’ve got some deeply held prejudices they’re terrified of addressing. If this was really about the much-discussed but never articulated Progressive Agenda, the rage would be focused at the RW, not at President Obama.

  3. Aquagranny911

    Sing it Brother! ♥ ♥ ♥ Norwood. This is just so stellar! I am forwarding it on to everyone I know. Thank you so very much for putting into such clear and meaningful terms everything I have felt for a long time. This is one of the major reasons I left DK.

    • g

      I cut the cord because of that as well. I buried the cord when Admin, rather than crush the racism, chose to crush those who called out others FOR making racist comments. (“Calling somebody a racist is very a very serious accusation on this blog”, intoned the Bladed One. “You must prove your accusation beyond a shadow of a doubt, or face banning.” Through the looking glass.

  4. MsKitty

    Thank you for this. I have been saying for awhile that the number one lesson I’ve learned from the Presidency of Barack Hussein Obama is that liberals can be just as racist as conservatives. Period.

    From the get-go a lot of these so-called progressives saw PBO as either the 1.) cool black friend they never had, or 2.) the magical negro that will do their bidding because he owes them for being elected. It took less than a week after the election for these phonies to realize that President Obama was not going to be their pet boy, which coincidentally is when all their screeching began (cabinet picks, Rick Warren, etc.).

    It’s one thing to attack the President on policy issues, but with this crowd 90% of the attacks are personal which tells me there’s something much more deep seeded at work.

    Once again, kudos. You really nailed it.

    • My original thinking about their reasons for attacking him was that they were in their own little fantasy world. After all, his actual platform, and what he said he was going to do while running, didn’t match up with what they were saying he said. So I figured it was mainly a problem dealing with reality.

      That didn’t mean that I didn’t see a lot of undertones of racism in various sectors. But what really sold it to me was that even given a clear and present danger to everything progressives hold dear, they’re still in “let’s get the President” mode. So telling us it’s about principles is not flying anymore.

      • Let’s not forget, Norbrook, that Ralph Nader called Obama an Uncle Tom back in 2008. It angered the hell out of me to see Nader’s bulls**t defended in comments, but since then, I’ve gotten even angrier at the Frustrati.

        From calling Obama the “Chocolate Carter” to just flat-out calling him a “house n****r” at FDL (which Angry Black Lady discussed at length at her site), it’s there, seeping out. The cries about how he’s now WORSE than Bush, and the moans about how “He’s not acting the way we want him to!” And then there was Bill Maher, claiming that he wanted Obama to be a pistol-packing gangsta.

        With all the problems facing the US, and with the scorched-earth policies of the Republicans in Ohio, Wisconsin, and Indiana as examples (thanks, all of you folks who “sat this one out!” in 2010), why the hell can’t the Frustati focus on these problems? If you have an honest criticism of this President, fine. That’s okay. But what I’m seeing now, more and more, is just a heaping pile of bulls**t.

        • Aquagranny911

          Dang! I wish Norwood had a “like” button. That was a great comment, especially your last paragraph. The last real time I spent at the ‘dark side’ was during GOTV last fall. Some of us were out busting our butts to get out the vote, trying to use DK to share info and do fund raising but there was a group of people constantly bashing the Prez and trying to discourage those doing the work.

          If I had listened to all the bs, I would have stayed home and played with my grandchildren.

  5. theboysisters

    Oh, how I love you. Will you marry me? 🙂

  6. Pingback: Tuesday’s Mishmash « The only adult in the room

  7. makesense4tulips

    Thank you for this.

  8. Nathan Katungi

    Excellent post Norbrook! I think you’ve decoded the real reason why the “Professional Left and the Frustrati” have been relentless in their vicious attacks on the President. I am especially glad that you called them for not going after Republicans who are intent on destroying all progressive achievements of the past 80 years. It seems very clear to me is that their #1 goal is ensuring that President Obama is not re-elected. They really hate the President more than they hate the Republicans. That hatred can’t be about policy. Any objective person, and not just the Obama supporters, knows that in just two years President Obama has done a great deal to advance the progressive cause. He certainly has done more for the progressive cause than President Clinton. Yet we never witnessed the non stop vicious attacks on Clinton coming from the left. The attacks on President Obama can’t be because of character. By all accounts he is a man of impeccable character who treats all people with respect. So if its not policy or character then there must be another reason that is driving these non-stop criticism and denigration of the President. Norbrook , you cracked the code.

    • Aquagranny911

      Yes! President Obama has both character and grace. He treats others as I am sure he would like to be treated himself. Sometimes I wish he would just cut loose and call them all racist pigs and be done with it! This is not his way.

      I’ll say it for him: They are racist pigs, no matter how much they deny it and try to justify all the nasty. Well, that cleared my sinus cavities!

      • majii

        It would serve no purpose for PBO to do what you suggest although it would probably give him, and us, the Pragmati, immense pleasure. If he called them out on their racism, it would play directly into their hands, and there’s no way he’s going to give them the upper hand. Believe me when I say that the president expected the racism, even from his side of the political aisle.

        When members of the DK community began nitpicking at everything the president did and were saying that he has the bully pulpit and questioning why he wasn’t using it, I tried to explain PBO’s position from that of someone who lived under segregation and has had to deal with issues of racism all of my life. They turned a deaf ear to my comments when I tried to explain to them that if the president did certain things, he’d be viciously attacked because many Americans would be expecting him to exhibit the kind of behavior that the MSM and our culture has promoted down through the years. That many have called him a thug, referred to his administration as using “Chicago thug tactics,” called him “the magic negro,” and referred to him as “an Uncle Tom” confirms this. They lack the ability to see him as an individual and not as a member of a group that this society, in general, doesn’t really value the contributions of no matter how monumental they have been/are.

        The problem with those who make these subtle race-based attacks on the president is that he is NOT the commonly promoted/accepted image of what/who a black man in America is, and it is difficult for them to divorce the societal image and the media spin from the real person. IMO, this shows three very obvious things about them. First, they’re no different than those on the right who make these kinds of attacks. Second, they’re not as “progressive” as they want to be or think they are. Third, they, just like many on the right, show that they have limited contact with, or acceptance of, people of color.

        Little do they know that they can continue making these race-based attacks on the president, and they STILL will not get a response from him. He knows what it’s like to live as a person of color in a country like the U.S. He knows that in order to accomplish what he has set out to accomplish, he cannot allow himself to be distracted from the course of action he has established. This has been the technique that successful blacks and other people of color in America have always followed. We’ve been conditioned all of our lives to focus on the goal(s,) forget the nonsense, and keep working toward our goal(s.) One can choose to devote precious time toward trying to change the minds of those whose minds can/will never be changed, or one can keep one’s eyes on the prize. PBO has chosen the latter, and rightly so.

        • g

          Thank you, as always, majii, for your input. I am not a strong writer as you and Nathan, and GN and Norbrook and so many here are. And I am lazy. But my instincts are excellent and they tell me it IS, in fact, racism, in most cases. BWD has some interesting counter viewpoints posted, but that explanation (warped thinking from the Bush years) does not work for me. I believe there IS dysfunction at play here, but it is not political. Regardless, I respect all the pragmatic voices.

          The MSM, the PL do not get BHO, period. He IS more emotionally and intellectually evolved than they are. For us, he is a role model, his comportment something to aspire to. For them, he needs “to be knocked down a few pegs” to their level.

        • Great, great comment majii! 😀

          I came away with the same impression – they wanted someone who was going to “act black,” whatever the hell that is. 🙄 I voted for him because I thought he was the smartest candidate in the field, and that’s not a slam on the intelligence of any of the other Democratic candidates. I read his platform, and I was deeply impressed by his organizational skills and ability to keep calm despite all the distractions and furor around him. That’s what I saw, and that’s what he’s given us as the President. That he happens to be able to give a rousing speech and is black? Well, that’s nice, but it’s not why I voted for him. I don’t agree with everything he’s done, and heck, I didn’t even agree with a few things in his platform. But I didn’t expect to in the first place. On the whole, though, I’ve been pretty satisfied.

        • Aquagranny911

          Wonderful comment Majii and I know you are 100% correct but forgive me if I get angry at how some treat him. I admire him so much and I appreciate what he is doing and trying to do. It pains me when PL and frustrati are so nasty. They should be putting that nasty to real work fighting the Repubs and RW not this President.

  9. Mary Gray

    Thank you for this diary. I too think that so much of the hatred is racist. We have the most liberal and probably the most brilliant president and yet the left complains. Well, I am left and I just love him.

  10. Maggy519

    I LOVED this. Please share it..I plan to.
    One thing that has been bothering me from the beginning of this administration..even before, during the transition, was the constant refrain of” Obama shoulds.” Every body and their brother in the blogesphere seemed to think they had the credibility to tell Obama what to do, every day, on every issue. Geez, we didn’t elect them, we elected him! When this reached a fever pitch during 2010, I finally decided that these people were just bigoted! Surely the black guy in the White House couldn’t make a decision without THEIR superior wisdom! Makes me sick! This goes on all the time, and seems to be the past time of most who editorialize about the President, but MORE so when it is someone from the left.

  11. donna dem 4 obama

    Be still my beating heart…this is just awesome. Thank you for saying it so succinctly.

  12. V C prezOfan2

    Sad, isn’t it, that they have the opportunity to work towards real progress , and instead they are splintering the base. My hope is that enough voters will wake up to their hypocrisy in time and leave them behind. These days I’m encouraged by the fact that there are sites with participants who stand behind the President, regardless of his colour. A year ago I couldn’t find a site without snarky commenters – now I can find more than one. 🙂 Progress will come in spite of them!

  13. Sabreen60

    I have visited some of the so-called far left web sites and the racial slurs used against President Obama were disgusting. When I called the posters out, all I got was a bunch of bs and absolutely NO remorse, regret or even willingness to even modify their name calling. One poster asked me not to leave, but stay and fight. HA ! I have so many more important things to do than battle some racist keyboard warrior in cyberspace. Besides these people are cowards. They would never say to anyone’s face what they write on some web site.

  14. Just a quick note for anyone commenting: WordPress is having some server/database issues which prevents me from approving new comments. They are working on it, and hopefully your comments will appear shortly. I do have them, but they’re in limbo for now.

    • Aquagranny911

      Must be okay now, my comments seem to be posting. Or maybe wordpress just likes me, lol.

      • It’s any new comments. For quite some time, I’ve had the comments set so that I have to approve the first comment of any new commenter. I have quite a pile of new comments (I get an e-mail with each one), but WordPress is not allowing me into the administrative functions. Yes, it’s been reported, and yes, they’re working on it. 😦

  15. maritza

    Thank you for stating the obvious, not many people are willing to spell it out as you did!

  16. Bobfr

    Norbrook, you’ve penned a valuable essay and I hope it is read by as many people as you and others can find ways to distribute. I will certainly be sharing it.

    Thank you

  17. louc1

    You are right on the mark. There is no other explanation for their actions!

  18. g

    Norbrook – Reading this article after Rootless’s at TPV adds to the growing feeling of solidity I feel between between the Pragmatic “family” members.
    HAH, DK, not the end result you anticipated!

    • Great minds think alike. 😉 I’ve had this one in my drafts for about a week. Rootless’s post just made decide that I should put a final polish on it and publish it. 😆

  19. gn

    Nothing to add. It’s all been said in this excellent, excellent piece.

  20. Excellent rant, Norbrook, and entirely too true. Thanks for going there.

  21. Admiral_Komack

    Thank you for this.

  22. Crystal

    I will tweet this to see the response.

  23. Blogvirgin


    Thank you for understanding and for writing this. Whenever I have tried to point out the inconsistencies or to remark or comment on race at that blog, I have been termed a race baiter and a racist. It has been unbelievable. The admin in my opinion most responsible for the tone that permeates the blog has been constantly defended because I understand he was active in the civil rights movement 40 years ago.

    40 years is a long time, and if that is the standard I have been Black 65 years. I think that counts for something in terms of experience and the ability to discern racists and racist behavior.

    Thanks again for your honesty and courage. I completely agree.

    • You’re welcome. Honestly? I wish I didn’t have to write this. But the instantaneous, knee-jerk responses instead of sober reflection and a bit of self-examination, are big indicators.

    • g

      Tha admin you speak of was active during a time when there was no Black POTUS, ie, there was nobody in a superior position to his…burden. Perhaps he cannot assimilate the new normal.

  24. Insipid

    I agree with your conclusion but disagree with your analysis. I think protesting, even vociferously protesting, that you’re not a racist doesn’t make you a racist. I was just arguing with a frustrati about the war and he kept on calling me a war monger and a chicken hawk over and over. Yeah, i denied it.
    Why i think you’re right in your assessment is the unique way they’re criticiing Obama over any other Democratic President. A case can be made that Bill Clinton DID sell out the left. He didn’t run on telecomunication reform, but he gave us that and the birth of right wing media. He didn’t run on Nafta, but we got that. And while there was SOME minor itty bitty grumbling from the left but no calls to primary him, no cries of his “betrayal” etc. Obama has basically been following the letter of his campaign promises. Granted we didn’t get a public option, but we also got an 85% loss ratio, 100% payment for all preventive care and huge funding for local care. So on balance it’s at least as progressive as what he campaigned on (i’d argue that it’s actually more progressive, but let’s give it to them). Yes, he did not close Guantanamo, but all evidence shows that he attempted it. He did not break up the banks, but 1. I don’t think he promised to during the campaign and 2. Legally that would be much more difficult to do (especially with THIS court than regulating them). Other than that there’s not that many major sins of Obama for the left to grouse over.
    But look at what they did….FDL actually worked to DEFEAT his signature initiative, health care. I don’t recall any major liberal group working to defeat Nafta, for goodness sakes. All throught the debate there were constant stories from Huff po about the alleged “back room deals” about health care. They spent 100s of columns talking about “abandoning” the public option but hardly any about obtaining 85% loss ratio and none that i can recall about no payments for preventive care (both of those will have more of an impact on every-day folks than the public option would have). Why are they treating Obama so differently than Clinton? If it’s not race, what’s the explanation.
    The same is true of Carter. While he was ostensibly more liberal, he wasn’t nearly as effective. Yeah, he put solar panels on the white house. Yay. Reagan took them off 4 years later. Obama is working to pass a law to make government agencies use certain amounts of sustainable energy. Something that takes another act of congress to tear down. And did the left go after Carter for ineffeciveness in passing general legislation that will effect the whole country the way the left is doing for failing to close Guantanamo?
    Then there’s the weirdness of the “progressive” blogosphere. For literelly months, Susie Madrak of Crooks and Liars was confidentally predicting with absolute and complete certainty that President Obama was going to use his State of the Union to call for austerity and cripple Social security. Then it didn’t happen and she STILL insulted the state of the union speech BEFORE it happened. Making fun of him for using words like “optimism” . That’s an obnoxious tactic pulled from Rush limbaugh (they know he’s a stong speaker, so before he performs, work the reg) but even if it weren’t AT LEAST acknowledge that you’re wrong. Maybe it’s wrong for me to label an individual as racist, but the fact that she’s actually going out of her way to slam a President and make sure that people don’t like him even when he’s doing something she’s been demanding of him is just weird. If it’s not racism, i don’t know what is.
    Then there’s Huff Po. She of the misleading headlines. I can’t say how many times i’ve read a huff po headline only to look inside and find that either 1. it’s not as bad as the headline suggests or 2. It’s not even bad but a good thing. Now she knows the majority of people only read the headline and the first paragraph or two. Why mislead people if not racism. In fact those reporters are more damning because they KNOW the truth.
    Then there’s the other weirdness of 1not being able to say they’re wrong or celbrating ANY of his achievments. The DAY BEFORE President Obama passed DADT Huff Po was saying with certainty that Obam was going to stab gays in the back in a compromise to pass the start treaty. The bastard! Then the next day it passed. Was there an i’m sorry? Or we were wrong? No. Absolutely not. They celebrated it for half a day (naturally you don’t want to spend too long on anything remotely positive that took two years to do,) and moved on. How do we explain that, without racism being involved.
    Then there’s the fact that NONE of the Presidents they LOVE to compare Obama unfavorably to come even close to measuring up to the standards they’ve imposed on him. Never mind the fact that FDR and LBJ had comparitively 80% and 70% Dems in both chambers. Barack Obama didn’t close Guantanamo? FDR interned Japanese AND he turned away Jews on the U.S.S. St. Louis. Plus he bailed out banks and hired a wall street executive to head the first S.E.C.
    LBJ compromised on Medicare. His original vision was to cover everyone, he couldn’t get it passed like that so he covered those over 65. Then there’s the whole Vietnam thing. Why are they so blind to the actual history of these two presidents (both of which i happen to like, though i know their history) in villifying Barack Obama. If the explanation isn’t racism, i don’t know what.
    Wow….long comment. Sorry.

    • Very insightful comment. To address your first point, you’re right in that most people will, the first time or so they’re accused will tend to react vociferously with a denial. But when there’s a lot of repetition, it gets to the point where there is more likely to be a grain of truth in it. That’s why I said “the more someone protests.”

      • Insipid

        I understand, but i still, respectfully, disagree. When a charge is particularly heinous, like the charge of racism you’re much more likely to never stop denying.
        If i accused you of murder, for instance, is there ever a time where you’d say “Fine, i did kill the guy, i’m tired of arguing, now leave me alone!”. No, you pretty much never give up on that denial. In fact, OJ’s lack of outrage during his initial interogation is one of the many reasons i think he got away with murder.
        If someone accused me of racism, i’d probably keep denying it. Or i’d do what i did with the guy accusing me of being a “warmonger” by accusing him of condoning slaughter of the innocent. I can be stupid too, if pushed.

        • But at some point you may stop and do a look at your argument, or examine whether they might indeed have a point. On an individual basis, one may not be racist, but when an overall pattern emerges, that has to be taken into account.

          As I pointed out, there’s a lot of similarities to the Tea Party’s denial of racism as a basis for many of their actions. Yet, somehow, it’s hard to look at the signs, the attempts to pass birther laws, and attacks on civil rights legislation and say “oh, no racism there.” What I see from the PL and the frustrati is a constant looking for things they can use to attack the President. Even when he actually accomplishes something that progressives have been working on for decades, they still attack him. They’ll even make things up to attack him about.

          Now, I was willing to attribute a lot of this to a complete break from reality, but unfortunately, looking at just how they’re phrasing it and who else they tend to attack, as well as the inconsistencies, the use of “it’s not about race” rings hollow.

        • Aquagranny911

          I think you are comparing two very different things here. If someone accused me of murder I would absolutely know whether I killed someone or not. I would certainly deny it if I knew I was innocent.

          However, if someone accuses me of racism, I would not absolutely know that in fact, in their eyes, if something I said or did seemed racist. I would want to examine my heart and my actions. I would want dialogue with the other person to understand better why I was perceived as a racist.

          We all have prejudice even though we may not all be racists per se. What we need is open honest, dialogue and real empathy for the unique experience of each other.

          I hope I did not offend you. If you wish I would be interested in any thoughts you might want to share in response.

  25. Blackman

    My first post here, Norbrook. Been lurkin’ for a while. I, too, am a cat guy and always enjoy your odes to the felines. But, THIS post….

    Gee… take time off….and, like the group War says on their fabulous cut: “The Cisco Kid”, come back BLASTIN’ (whether you’re drinking port or not is your own personal preference 🙂 ). WELL DONE and I’m SO glad that this matter is being put on the table. And, I’ll tell you….

    History will show time and aGAIN not only what it’s like when a black man gets into the rareified air of arenas that have been thought to be for white males only, but, also, what that man is made of. These men are somethin’ SPECIAL. For that given task at hand, they HAVE to be. We are bearing witness to the right man for the job – on MANY levels. We all continue to pray that he’s able to see the job through. This is NOT an accident, Norbrook. Again, examine history and let us stand WITH him. He is uniquely gifted and though the noted barbs of race are thrown all over him, what do we see? He is keenly aware of his position and can take it.

    Your points re: the PL and Frustratti not pushing back HARD on these hateful and SCARY Republicans and rippin’ the Pres. instead not passing the “smell test” which therefore means…… DEAD on!!

    He doesn’t walk on water, but I believe his actions MORE than merit our trust. And, you, Norbrook – and any number of others that I see here and on the other Pragmatic Blogs – are saying eNOUGH of this stupid foolishness because we have work to do.

    Again….let us stand with him. And, THANK YOU, my man.

    • Aquagranny911

      Bravo! You are so eloquent and right. Even though I get so angry at some of the treatment of our Prez, I remind myself to try and use that energy where it belongs and do the real work. Let the ducks quack. We can stand with PBO and help him get the job done.

      Thank YOU for a wonderful comment.

    • gc

      Nice to meet you, Blackman
      When I watch BHO, I see somebody I want to emulate, when the partiers see him, they see somebody they need to destroy. It will be our loss as Americans, their loss as homo sapiens.

  26. Great Essay Norbook and thank you for finally putting it out there in plain language. Once we stop with our denials and admit our issue we can begin to work on it.

    • Bobfr

      Precisely, HurrikanEagle – “Once we stop with our denials ….”

      That is the critical point of departure for those trapped in their bigotry.

      I am amazingly fortunate given that I’m very white, male, well passed 60 and had all kinds of issues in my teens, given where I lived and aspects of family prejudice, but by the time I was entering my 20’s I realized that no person – irrespective of race, culture, or any other characteristic – should ever be considered anything other than my brother, my sister.

      It’s actually such a comforting and compelling way to live – the bounty of differences in our hew of skin, our cultural backgrounds, and any other aspect of apparent difference, we are all so totally fortunate to be alive, to be aware, to have language, to have the capacity for thought, the ability to create, the bounty of our different heritages is a trove of boundless innovation and the reason for boundless empathy and, truly, love of one another.

      That is my passion, my mission, my every motivation – bringing that message and skills and bounty to every member of our species.

      Norbrook – thank you again – for having the courage to speak so cogently to the core dysfunction in all those who are so disabled by ‘color’ to be totally self-destructive.

      We must prevail.


  27. Darnell From LA

    Many on the left when they envisioned Obama’s Presidency, and what it would be like, imagined an extended episode of “The West Wing” featuring Will Smith as “The President.” The fact that Obama isn’t living up to their cinematic, racial fun-bag quota is part of their frustration.

    Another reason, IMHO, is that many on the left really felt a black man had no chance to become President without the approval and help of the white, suburban liberal progressive machine. They figured this black man therefore owed THEM his lockstep obediance in a way no past Democratic President had before. And now, the black President, isn’t following directions from the white people without whom he (a black man) would not be President.

    (this is where a random “progressive” says that’s not true, and rather they really, really want to “see Obama succeed”.

  28. beulahmo

    Thanks for this, Norbrook.

    What convinced me that racism *must* be the motivation for much of the vitriol from the left was the utter lack of reluctance among the frustrati to assume the very worst motives of President Obama. I was appalled at the memes spreading through certain regions of the blogosphere, almost completely unimpeded, with vicious “screw you, Obot!” pushback against those of us who said, “Wait. Seriously? You’re positive he’s nothing but a weak puppet being manipulated by corporate interests? You have some special insight that allows you to be certain that he *planned* to deceive the left and he hates us as much as the GOP? And the sudden emergency due to the crash of the global economy, combined with unprecedented shit-spewing from a well-financed and well-coordinated right-wing propaganda apparatus aren’t more apt explanations for Obama not being able to push his agenda a little further left? Really???”

    It broke my heart to observe the utterly personal nature of their hatred of President Obama, their downright paranoid suspicion about his motives, and the *sheer speed* in which the hatred and suspicion was accepted and mainstreamed in certain quarters. For a while I was heartbroken and absolutely gobsmacked. Lately, though, I’m just really, really pissed off.

    President Obama’s pragmatic style has not surprised me. Nor has his tendency to avoid the “bully pulpit” in favor of allowing the people to express their political will, especially when issues already have plenty of momentum *without* his “bullying” (yeah, I’m talking about DADT repeal, labor protests, and Middle East liberation protests). But then, that’s because I read his books and paid careful attention to his policy proposals when he was a candidate. His pragmatism is so *unshocking* because he was always quite forthcoming about it. And his background as a community organizer means he will always favor power being legitimized by political will that rises organically from the “grassroots.” There are NO SURPRISES HERE. What. The. F*ck?????

    • You’re welcome. 😀

      As I have said, I was reluctant to attribute much of this to racism, instead attributing it to an inability to deal with reality. Seriously, they were griping about things things he hadn’t promised, or hadn’t run on. That’s combined with their demonstrated inability to understand politics and the legislative process. A little over a year ago, they were threatening Bernie Sanders and Dennis Kucinich. 🙄 I’m sure that the fact that they didn’t get their magic rainbow-pooping unicorn (which they weren’t ever promised) is a factor. But when you look at the entire picture of what they’re doing, including the things you point out, along with their rhetoric towards others, it becomes clear that yes, racism is damn well a big part of it. All you have to do is look at what they’re doing now, with the Republicans running amok. They’re still acting like this is 2009.

  29. Well said Norbrook, I think there is a nice mix of motives out there. I think ego plays a large role in the mass rendering of garments and mashing of teeth. They got him elected and now he isn’t acknowledging them regularly.

    Right now I’m looking at a sign that says Hope and below that is Fear. It’s a campaign sign that I held up in the streets during campaign season in 2/08. Hope over Fear. I remember wanting to help end the era of fear. I wanted to be able to look in the paper and not see my government finding a new way to expand war, destroy the economy, the environment and our image abroad. I got what I wanted, it appears these people wanted much much more and don’t have a clue what to do about it besides bitching and harassing those of us that don’t go along with their shallow campaign. And the one sensible thing we could have done, supporting Dems in 2010 was like pulling teeth. Only the leftiest Ds got easy money, the fundraising started late and our message was weak and defensive. If they didn’t lift a finger in 2010, they don’t deserve the luxury of opening their maws and spewing criticism.

    • Thanks. 🙂 The reason I was originally leaning towards “disconnected from reality” for them was their constant bitching about being “the base,” and, as you said, that “they got him elected.” I did the math, I can look at polls like anyone else, and one thing became very clear: They weren’t the base. While they may have been a small part of the overall election effort, they “didn’t get him elected.” It’s remarkably arrogant of them, so the ego trip aspects are definitely there. What became clearer though over the past year is that it wasn’t the only motivation, and watching what happened to BWD and BK, among others, made it obvious what that other motivation was.

  30. Jennifer

    Thanks for this post. Got led here from a link on blackwaterdog’s blog. I’ve been puzzling and puzzling and puzzling over how two years ago we had the wind at our backs and then it just went pffft. I couldn’t figure out what happened. Racism on the left did not occur to me. I think it’s a compelling argument. I’m not sure that I agree that the biggest clue is the denial; I think the biggest clue to the racism is that, as someone said, we have 4 senators and 1 president standing between us and Republican Armageddon – and what is the left doing? Whining. We should be rallying behind our president. For the first time in a long time, the White House is on our side and is trying hard every single day to make things better for this country. But we would rather whine than rally to protect our dearest progressive goals. There has to be a reason for us all standing around and cutting off our noses to spite our face while the Republicans organize. And I guess I would agree with some of the commenters that it seems to be a very specific kind of racism. It really hurts to write this, but I guess maybe for some progressives it’s just as hard to have a black man in charge at the pinnacle of power as it is for the tea-baggers. I would like to be wrong about that.

  31. princss6

    Great post…great comment thread.