Saturday, September 19, 2009

Obama, Carter, and Race

The Karl at Patterico's Pontifications has some thoughts on President Carter's senile rant on opposition to Obama and racism.

The Obama presidency is running into growing opposition — as presidencies tend to do. However, for some reason, the Washington Post's Anne Kornblut was interested in a racial hypothesis:

[White House communications director Anita] Dunn played down the role that race could have in fueling the rancor. "I think that is less a part of it than some other people might think," she said.

It may be true, as Allahpundit suggests, that the White House refuses to accuse its opponents of racism directly because "every last halfwit in big media is happily willing to do it for them." But these statements are not mutually exclusive. When Dunn speaks of "some other people," she may well be thinking of the legacy media.


On this topic, the legacy media have turned from investigatory journalism to hallucinatory journalism. To assist those still hearing voices in their heads, let's use a visual aid:

For Carter to be correct, we would have to assume that a large portion of the population was unaware in late 2008 and early 2009 that Barack Obama is a person of color, or that an increasing portion of the public is turning racist. Occam's Razor suggests the correct answer is that Carter is an unhinged, race-baiting demagogue.

And contrary to some White House correspondent, there is not "a national conversation going on about race and the role it has or hasn't played in some of the hostility" toward the president. Only 12% of likely voters hold Carter's view, most of whom are Democrats. Only 20% of registered voters hold Carter's view, 34% of Democrats. Those figures are comparable to the 35% of Democrats who believed in 2007 that George Bush knew in advance about the 9/11 attacks. It is a view held by a minority of a minority. The legacy media's seeming obsession with the notion says far more about them than the president's critics.


At this point, I should take a moment to concede that some of Pres. Obama's critics may well be racists, and may hold extreme views. On the other hand, I can find Hispanics in New Jersey (most of whom are likely not members of Radical Right) who think that Obama is the Anti-Christ, or are "birthers" or "truthers." Indeed, the same poll has half of the African-Americans surveyed as truthers.

We could also look at the 2005 study which showed that a majority of blacks believed that a cure for AIDS was being withheld from the poor; that nearly half believed that AIDS was man-made, with a quarter believing that it was created in a US government laboratory and 12 percent naming the CIA as its source.  Such fringe conspiracy theories were peddled by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, whom Pres. Obama counted as his spiritual adviser until Wright's comments before the National Press Club made his extremism politically impossible to dismiss. Extremism is not difficult to find in any large demographic, but the legacy media only sees it selectively.
...we may be looking at a case for Hanlon's Razor: "Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity." Of course, I would not want to engage in the same sort of gross generalizations discussed above. Life is just too complex for that. Accordingly, we could also employ Heinlein's Razor: "Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity, but don't rule out malice."

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