Last week, in an interview with Brian Williams, Jimmy Carter accused Joe Wilson's comments, and the current political tenson, to be racially motivated.
"I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man, that he's African American," Carter said. "I live in the South, and I've seen the South come a long way, and I've seen the rest of the country that shared the South's attitude toward minority groups at that time, particularly African Americans," continued Carter, who is famously from Georgia:"And that racism inclination still exists. And I think it's bubbled up to the surface becauseof the belief among many white people, not just in the South but around the country, that African-Americans are not qualified to lead this great country. It's an abominable circumstance, and it grieves me and concerns me very deeply."
Those who have disagreed vehemently with Obama's policies, particularly those regarding health care reform, denounce these statements with equal vehemence. They have called Carter's comments ridiculous left-wing rhetoric that bubble up from his "sanctimonious guilt". Glen Beck, not surprisingly, took it one step further and touted that Jimmy Carter's comments were analogous to terrorist attacks:BECK: Nobody is saying we’re blowing children up or anything like the Taliban. But this is the same kind of tactic being used now in America. You can’t get your agenda, so you unleash the hounds and point the fingers, and everybody is a racist.I have read several op-ed pieces that call out Carter for pulling the "race card".What do you think? Do you- my white, black and brown friends- think the fervor demonstrated regarding politics today has anything to do with Obama's being black? I think it is interesting that the White House spokesperson stated that Obama does not feel that the opposition to his policies are racially related. Do you think that is really true or is he just trying to stay above the fray?
I find it interesting that Jimmy Carter is even considered to have a race card. He is white, and therefore, seems excluded from the right to even carry one (Of course, he could, theoretically, have a white one, but certainly can't have one a black one in his deck, if he is, in fact, not black. But, this would also bring up the matter of whether or not a white race card even exists). I think Obama is right to disagree with Carter's assessment of his opposition's motives because he himself is black. He can't say he's being discriminated against. People will assume he is just pulling the race card and dismiss it. But, Jimmy Carter, precisely because he does not have a (minority) race card, he is able to call it as he sees it. He thinks its time to discuss this issue.These conversations on race are critical at this time in history. It is an ideal time to talk publicly about the state of race relations. Our children are growing up in a culture that communicates openly about the value of all people, regardless of race, gender, age, etc. But, they see something that is altogether in conflict with those messages. They hear adults say they refuse to vote for a man whose middle name is Hussein. They see people of color without jobs. They see the media filled with pictures of dark criminals. How can they be called to value people of other races when their parents have not had opportunities to show them? Well, we have one now. What next?