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So Much For A "Post-Racial" America?

US President Barack Obama
CBS
By Washington D.C. standards, the locals say it's been downright cool this summer. Not so, though, when it comes to the escalating political passions over race.

First, it was the Sonia Sotomayor hearings, where deep suspicion greeted the first Hispanic nominated for the Supreme Court over her "wise Latina" commentary.

Then it was the prospect of even bigger government on the horizon: a possible trillion dollar price tag attached to medical reform legislation that infuriated conservative critics dismiss as yet another entitlement. But it is the racially-tinged backlash against President Obama's criticism of the police arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. at his home in Cambridge, Mass. that has brought all these long-simmering resentments into the open at once.

In the week since it first grabbed headlines, the endless arguments surrounding the arrest exposed America's race (and class) fault lines. On Thursday, President Obama hopes to calm the controversy when he meets at the White House with Cambridge Police Sgt. James Crowley and Gates, an event the administration has billed as a potential teaching moment.

But the president's detractors on the right aren't in the mood. President Obama, who rode into office on a wave of popularity, has been forced to respond to critics who cast him as a leader that views the law through a racial lens, (and put forward a Supreme Court justice who said - and then tried to clarify - that her status as a racial minority imparted special wisdom.) Now that they have him on the defensive, they're not relenting. In recent days, their criticism has taken a harder turn.

On Tuesday's "Fox and Friends," Glenn Beck had this to say:

"This president, I think, has exposed himself as a guy, over and over and over again, who has a deep-seated hatred for white people, or the white culture. I don't what it is. But you can't sit in a pew with Jeremiah Wright for 20 years and not hear some of that stuff, and not have it wash over....What kind of president of the United States immediately jumps on the police-just like what kind of president would ever say "Oh well, yeah, well, he's black. Of course he was breaking into the house. You'd never do that. You'd never do that. He wanted to address this...

"This guy has a social justice. He is going to set all of the wrongs of the past right...I'm not saying that he doesn't like white people. I'm saying he has a problem. He has a-this guy is, I believe, a racist. Look at the things that he has been surrounded by... Let's give his new green jobs czar. The guy is again, black liberation theology, a black nationalist, who is also an avowed communist. He comes in and he puts that guy in. Well, wait a minute. How many people with this kind of philosophy do you need to have in your life before we start to say, "show me your friends and I'll show you your future."

On Wednesday, Beck stood by his remarks:
"I deem him a racist based on, really his own standard of racism, the standard of the left. Now I don't know what I'm supposed to - I'm not sure how I'm supposed to judge people. How, I'm supposed to be able to say, 'Wait a minute, I have these things that don't fit. So what do I do with them? So I have to use the community standard'."

But Beck's statements are part of a longer-running meme. Radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh, who called Sotomayor a racist, last week responded to the furor over President Obama's remarks by accusing the president of playing the race card and for displaying the "instincts of a community organizer."
"Trust me when I tell you that all during the campaign these precious moderates and independents believed that we were genuinely getting over the racial hump. Post-racial, so many, so many guilty people voted for Obama just to get that legacy of sin due to slavery out of our system to be done with it. They thought the election of a black president would accomplish this."

All of a sudden this guy that they elected who they thought was all of these wonderful, perfect things, is now behaving as a community organizer and is fanning the flames of race and is calling the police stupid, and I guarantee you those people -- we've all been waiting and asking the question, "When are these Obama voters going to wake up?" Well, this incident might be -- I don't know yet, a little early to say -- this incident might be the wake-up call for some of these moderates 'cause folks, don't doubt me. You know that there were a lot of people that voted for Obama out of pure guilt, hoping that his election would just wipe the slate clean, at least make them feel better about it. And this just destroys that. Here you have a black president trying to destroy a white policeman when he doesn't know the facts of the case, admits he doesn't know the facts of the case."

There's a big police coalition press conference going on right now, and the police union, fed up, police officers, Fraternal Order of Police all over the country, they recognize the damage and the danger this puts them in when the president of the United States runs around and calls them stupid for just doing their jobs. It's bad enough for the cops in this country as it is. This just exacerbates it."

You know the cliché about politics being a contact sport, but this is especially rough stuff. And there's more. Talking Points Muckraker found a photo forwarded to a news group by David McKalip, who is the founder of Doctors for Patient Freedom in which President Obama was depicted as a witch doctor with a bone through his nose.

TPM reported that McKalip, who opposes the administration's health care reform proposals, wrote "Funny stuff" on the note forwarded to a Google listserv affiliated with the Tea Party movement. McKalip later told the site that the "artist" depicting Obama as a witch doctor "was expressing concerns that the health-care proposals [made by President Obama] would make the quality of medical care worse in our country."

The White House isn't commenting on the criticisms but it did receive support from an unexpected corner on Wednesday. MSNBC's conservative talk show host Joe Scarborough put out a Twitter post responding to Beck's tirade noting that "conservatives attacked the Dixie Chicks for saying much less about President Bush than what Beck said about President Obama."
By Charles Cooper