Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Sarah Palin Playing the Race Card is Absurd

Sarah Palin's new book, America by Heart, comes out today, and according to the UK Guardian, reads like a treatise by a would-be US presidential candidate.

Palin claims to be tired of Obama's apologies for America, and suggests that he is almost embarrassed to be American.

If that's true, he has plenty of reasons to be embarrassed, not the least of which is Sarah Palin.

But what I find disturbing is that she is pulling out the race card, which may be a bit of a preview of her election campaign, should she decide to throw her hat in the ring.
One of the most controversial parts of her book deals with race. McCain avoided this during the White House campaign, partly because he did not want to be accused of having fought an election in which he had made Obama's colour an
issue. Ignoring the advice of some Republicans, including Palin, his vice-presidential running mate, he also refused to exploit provocative comments made by Wright, Obama's long-time pastor and mentor in Chicago.
After suggesting that she belongs to a group of "patriotic Americans", as opposed to the current president, she quotes Michelle Obama as stating that she had "never felt proud of her country until her husband started winning elections".

She got it wrong, however, because what she really said was: "What we have learned over this year is that hope is making a comeback. It is making a comeback. And let me tell you something--for the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country. And not just because Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change. And I have been desperate to see our country moving in that direction, and just not feeling so alone in my frustration and disappointment. I've seen people who are hungry to be unified around some basic common issues, and it's made me proud."

An entirely different meaning, but it won't matter. The people who read Palin's book will believe it, and an "us against them" mentality will be the result. And of course the "us against them" is getting dangerously close to becoming "whites" against "blacks".

Read Palin's next comments that follow that misquote:

"In retrospect, I guess this shouldn't surprise us, since both of them spent almost two decades in the pews of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright's church listening to his rants against America and white people."

You can almost see the white sheets.

Anger vs Hurt

My first experience with bigotry, that I can remember, was when I was in elementary school. We had a new student join us mid-term, who was of German descent. He was tall, blonde and very good looking. And he was nine.

One day at the end of class, our teacher dismissed the new student but asked that the rest of us remain behind.

One at a time she had us stand up and disclose what we knew of our heritage. "My grandmother was from Ireland, my grandfather Poland", that kind of thing. The exercise was to remind us that we were all descended from immigrants.

She then moved on to name calling. She said that if we called a classmate stupid, it was just a word, unless that person was a slow learner. She used other examples that I can't remember, but what I took from that was the difference between saying something that might make someone angry, and saying something that would hurt.

Apparently at recess, some boys had called the young German boy a 'Nazi' and an 'Aryan' something or other. Both terms no doubt came from parents, since I doubt they really knew what they meant at that time. But for the boy whose family had escaped Nazi Germany, those words hurt because he knew exactly what they meant.

They were not just words.

I hear the argument from white nationalists all the time, that if blacks can be proud of their race, why can't they? If they can be called "whitey" why can't they use the "N" word?

But the difference is that white people in America have no history of oppression. Black power was used to make African Americans proud of what they had been able to overcome, and though the struggle is far from over, attitudes had been changing.

"Whitey" may make a person mad, but it does not hurt. Overall, there is no history of pain.

Not that either is right, but there is a fundamental difference between the two.

While few come right out and say it, the problem with Obama, for many who have joined the Tea Party gang, is that he is black. It's below the surface, but it is there. Read their signs.

"He is Muslim" (a terrorist). "He is a socialist" (a Communist). He is Kenyan (black). He embodies all of their hatred and fear.

He's actually a Christian, social-Democrat, born in Hawaii, with a black father and white mother. In other words, an American. But it doesn't matter.

If Sarah Palin uses a kind of "white pride" associated with patriotism, and the good old USA, this could very well ignite a race war, as opposed to a political campaign.

Let's hope she doesn't run. Or if she does run, keeps running. The political climate in the United States is volatile enough.


  1. After the sixties, after the sacrifices that were made, I never thought I'd see racism resurrected in the 21st century.
    I'm glad my father didn't live to see this happen. He believed that some day all races would intermarry and produce children who would never be "different" because of skin colour. I, foolishly (apparently), believed it would happen in my lifetime.
    You're absolutely right about the name-calling, Emily. If there is no history of hurt, it's just a name. Where pain exists, it's an epithet.

  2. And therein lies the fate of America. The more they tear each other apart, the less they become in the eyes of the world. Having just returned from SE Asia where I spent a month looking around, I've seen into the future and it isn't America and won't be Canada either unless we see the light and change our ways...

  3. dead on , again. you deserve the CWA awards , hands down.....great stuff.