AP Confuses Criticism of Obama With ‘Racial Slurs’
By: Warner Todd Huston
Proving that the left cannot tell the difference between “racism” and “criticism,” the AP posted a lengthy March 30 story confusing and conflating the two as it pertains to attacks on President Obama. As far as the AP is concerned it seems the whole country is running around with burning crosses and wearing pointy hoods aiming to cast racial epithets at Obama at every turn. It may as well still be the year 1860 around here.
The AP starts its piece by informing the reader that “racial slurs continue” against the president “despite” his “historic achievement.” But the main problem with the piece is that much of the report details political attacks that aren’t really racial in nature but are instead just those normal sorts of political attacks we see against any president. Granted they are tailored for Obama (like his citizenship and religion questions) but they aren’t really “racial” attacks per se. Still, the AP illegitimately lumps any and all attacks against Obama under the rubric of “racial slurs.”
Initially the AP approaches assumption instead of relating fact in the interpretation of the very first example it lists in its second paragraph.
In Obama’s first two months in office, a New York tabloid took heat over a cartoon appearing to portray the president as a monkey; a California mayor resigned after distributing a picture of watermelons on the White House lawn; and an e-mail making the rounds refers to Obama as “the magic mulatto,” with exaggerated ears and nose.
That political cartoon the AP mentions WAS NOT a portrayal of President Obama. It was a riff on the chimp attack that had been in the news that week. It had no intention of portraying the president as a monkey. An overreaction by race-baiters does not automatically equate to racist intent on the part of the original source.
Then the Obama birth certificate question is branded as an “untruth” despite that it hasn’t really successfully been debunked.
Disproved and disputed claims about his religion and citizenship, namely untruths that Obama is a Muslim and isn’t U.S.-born, zip across chat rooms and dominate the blogosphere. Fringe critics largely are responsible for perpetuating the lies, but even elected officials have raised them.
What ever you believe about Obama’s country of birth and its importance to his election, it cannot be said that it has been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that he was born in Hawaii. The question remains murky because an original certificate of live birth has never been made public. Still, that issue is beside the point here because the AP conflates the birthplace question with racism when it has nothing at all to do with race.
Here is the AP’s central thesis for this piece:
All that underscores how the accomplishment of one man who broke the highest racial barrier hasn’t entirely changed the dynamic of a country founded by slave owners. It also shows how far the nation has to go to bridge its centuries-old racial divide.
“All that” underscores the race conflicts in this country? All what? Thus far in the piece the AP only gave two examples of actual racism with the rest being political attacks that aren’t necessarily racist at heart. The religion question has little to do with racism — after all, we are at war with radical Islam — and neither does the birthplace question. But the AP persists in its own fallacious conflation.
In truth, Obama probably will continue to be dogged to some degree by entrenched stereotypes and viral fallacies.
Now we are talking about “entrenched stereotypes” and “viral fallacies” from the Internet. Notice how they lump the two together, notice this conflation? The AP is quite misleading, though, because a “viral fallacy” is not necessarily race based. Sure they can be race based, but viral Internet rumors aren’t by nature racial attacks. Every single political candidate out there is a victim of these Internet fallacies at some point in their candidacy or career. Heck, there are even Internet attack sites built to attack me, for Heaven’s sake. Clearly the AP is saying that every political detraction cast at Obama is racism.
Here is another amusing sleight of hand indulged in by this AP article:
“There’s certainly no lessening of racially charged barbs aimed at the president,” said Anita L. Allen, a University of Pennsylvania law school professor who has studied race relations for years. “In fact there may be more, some vicious and cruel by his enemies and some distasteful and playful by his friends.”
Ah, I see. So “friends” are only engaging in “playful” racial slurs, huh? But wait, isn’t it taken for granted by race-baiters that any racial slur is a vicious attack? Yet, here the AP is giving their lefty friends a break by grading their racial slurs as a lower, less important brand of slur. It makes me wonder when is it that we are supposed to get mad at a racial slur? Should it only cause outrage when the president’s enemies indulge in racial epithets? Should we just smile and ignore it when “friends” of the president engage in that “playful” brand of racial epithet?
Gosh, fellas, I am confused. Are racial slurs bad or not?
I must say that the AP did, at least, seem to belatedly realize that the “far left” unduly attacked George W. Bush while in office. That is some progress toward balanced reporting, anyway.
Overt and subtle attacks on Obama’s race, religion and patriotism — true or not — are certain. Some opponents on the far right try to undercut his presidency, much as the ultra left attempted with George W. Bush.
But, here is the thing: presidents get attacked. Often with innuendo and slurs on character that are half truths or outright lies. Bush was called a “privileged white boy” by many on the left. Should we rail about that “racial” slur? It would be silly to do so.
Unfortunately for the AP’s race-based thesis, a large portion of the examples it presents as “racial” are simply political attacks that have little or nothing to do with race and everything to do with undermining Obama’s administration on a political basis alone.
Finally, there is no question that many people will attack Obama based solely on his black heritage. But it is just as sure that many blacks attack white politicians just because they are white. In fact, individual attacks, while annoying, are not meaningful when stacked up against the prevailing cultural conditions and freedoms enjoyed by blacks in America today.
One can always find a racist somewhere, we all know (I’d point to Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Jeremiah Wright and their ilk as examples). But how a minority is treated in society as a whole is far more germane to conditions of racism than what individuals do. Blacks hold the highest offices in education, entertainment, business, and government. Middle class blacks are many and numerous and growing. The law sees no difference between the races. These are the facts that makes stupid racial FaceBook comments by a “police detective in Harrison, N.Y.” irrelevant. These are the facts that makes the AP’s little attempt to keep whites and blacks at each other’s throats quite illegitimate.
But one thing that might be said of this piece. It is quite successful for making excuses for the Obammessiah and for trying to drum up sympathy for the president. It’s easy to assume that this was the goal all along.