September 17th, 2009
12:30 PM ET
12 years ago

Race and politics in the age of Obama

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="President Obama during the 2008 campaign faced questions over race and politics"]

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Race and politics are a combustible combo that explodes into headlines when an ex-president lights the fuse, as Jimmy Carter did recently.

"When a radical fringe element of demonstrators and others begin to attack the president of the United States as an animal or as a reincarnation of Adolf Hitler or when they wave signs in the air that said we should have buried Obama with Kennedy, those kinds of things are beyond the bounds," the Democrat told students at Emory University on Wednesday.

"I think people who are guilty of that kind of personal attack against Obama have been influenced to a major degree by a belief that he should not be president because he happens to be African-American," he added.

The controversy erupted this week when Carter first raised the race issue to NBC.

"An overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man," he said.

Bill Cosby, a black comedian and actor, said Wednesday in a written statement that he agrees with Carter.

"During President Obama's speech on the status of health care reform, some members of Congress engaged in a public display of disrespect," he said.

CNN contributor David Gergen said that some of the allegations of race-baiting might have some weight among Democratic voters.

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Filed under: President Carter • President Obama
soundoff (71 Responses)
  1. yuri

    Those handlers who carry utterly nasty portrayals of BHO posters need to be publicly flogged. Have they not got better things to do their pathetically pitiful and parasitic lives?

    Glen Beck and Rush Limbaugh are adding directly or indirectly kerosene to those inflammatory innuendos and those two, along w/ Hannity, Coulter, and Ingraham, must be punished duely, if a case can be made againt those creatures.

    September 17, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  2. Polar Bears Against Palin

    Of course, conservative whackos are racist. Just one of their many flaws.

    September 17, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  3. Right Leaning Independent

    Where was Carter's outrage over the comparison of Bush and Hitler in the ad on The ad was finally removed after the Jewish community lodged complaints about it. What a double standard politicians have today!!

    September 17, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  4. Expat American

    Weren't effigies of the President of the United States hung from trees during the campaign by McCain and Palin's 'Country First' patriots? During the campaign, the educated world got to see the real face of Conservatives in America on video at Palin’s hate rallies thanks to real time news. I love how so many republicans try to cover up their racism by calling out terms which they don't even understand (i.e. Socialist, Communist and Terrorist).


    September 17, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  5. Neil

    I guess that means the overwhelming portion of the vitriol, equal to and exceeding the virulence Obama is experiencing, that was directed at Bush was because he is white.

    I'm sure there are those who oppose Obama only because he is black. I'm sure there are those who support Obama only because he is black.

    I am also sure that the vast majority of both support and opposition is based on policy.

    When do the adults show up to this party? There is a definite need for chaperones.

    September 17, 2009 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  6. Kate in San Diego

    White people don't understand and never can because they didn't experience it and never will. I am in an interesting position because i am white and my first husband, to whom I was married for 15 years, is black. We experienced plenty of unpleasant racial stuff, like people yelling things at us out of car windows, purposely bumping into our grocery cart, being pulled over for no reason, and being denied service in restaurants and hotels, albeit in a sneaky manner. And most of those people would tell you with a straight face it had nothing to do with race. It does. The disrespect shown to President Obama is far worse than anything any president has faced since the 1800s when poeple used to hit each other in sessions of Congress. Bush did not face this level of disrespect. Racism is alive and well. And by the way, we did not live in the south. We lived in southern California and Seattle.

    September 17, 2009 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  7. james in TN

    It's about time we had a real conversation about race. Forty years after Dr King race is still a big issue. What a shame.

    September 17, 2009 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  8. Elaine

    Pres. Carter should realize that most of us do not live in Georgia, and he is not making his case very well, if at all. The cry in congress for Wilson and the profanities at our town hall meetings are just bad manners, and I find it astounding that there were no cries when Bush was spewing his lies to our elected officials. But then Dems are just more polite, which may turn out to be their problem. As to comparing Obama with Hitler, I saw the same stuff for Bush. It isn't race, it's opposition. And a sad thing it is, too.

    September 17, 2009 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  9. katiec

    Thank God the majority of the American people are not racists or radicals. This, by some is not just disagreement on issues, it is hate, anger,
    and ignorance.
    This is not representative of the United States of America, but, unfortunately, this is what the world sees.
    The media has been totally irresponsible on its continuation of headlining , sensationalizing and supporting these unAmerican actions and tactics.
    We must get our respect and honor back.
    Can we demand the media start showing integrity, become non bias, and perhaps become trustworthy again??

    September 17, 2009 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  10. Lynda/Minnesota

    "When a radical fringe element of demonstrators and others begin to attack the president of the United States as an animal or as a reincarnation of Adolf Hitler or when they wave signs in the air that said we should have buried Obama with Kennedy, those kinds of things are beyond the bounds," the Democrat told students at Emory University on Wednesday.
    And yet, the nuts on the right would have us believe that it is Mr. Obama who is the racist. Perhaps these same individuals would like to explain which half of Mr. Obama is the racist - his black half or his white half. Or, who he is racist against, whites or blacks.

    I actually admire Mr. Obama more than ever for not allowing himself forced into the discussion of race baiting, something which the right has wanted for months now - racial class warfare. - with MSM cheerleading in anticipation of soaring ratings.

    How despicable the extremist GOPers are becoming.

    September 17, 2009 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  11. Lillie

    not all rehetoric is racist....some is out of frustration with some of the President's policies, although I think he's doing thet best he can with the mess he was handed. And I do agree with Pres. Carter that some of it is racist. You only have to read some of the protest signs and look at the folks holding the signs! More importantly, even during a war of CHOICE, no one protested the billions of dollars not even claimed in the budget !! And no one ever yelled "you lie" to the president while he was speaking to congress I'm from the south (South Carolina) and I know and can smell racism. Yes, America it still exists and has risen its evil head in SOME of those protestors! SAD!!!

    Pres. Obama was elected because he WON!! Race is the ELEPHANT in the ROOM! My parents taught me to love everyone...just think if all parents taught their children the same. Children aren't born prejudice to skin color, you know!

    Get over it!!

    September 17, 2009 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  12. Meka

    President Carter, is correct. It's unfortunate that in 2009 . . . Ignorance is alive and well!

    September 17, 2009 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  13. GI Joe

    Make hate crimes come with a speedy death penalty by law.

    This will not stop until parents start teaching their children that prejudice and hate are wrong. Shame on the people that continue to propagate this evil sin.

    Thank God we will all be tan some day – no more white, no more black.

    September 17, 2009 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  14. Joe In Vegas

    These noisy republicans who are spreading all the hateful rhetoric–

    you people are so MEAN and NASTY.

    September 17, 2009 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |

    IF the current President of the United States of America WAS a TRUE A M E R I C A N – 1) he would be an AMERICAN – not African-American 2) he would SO STATE for ALL AMerican's so we would sit up and take notice 3) he would ENCOURAGE ALL AMERICANS to be proud of OUR heritage and to STAND UP for the Values that our forefaters fought for.
    As we are almost ALL emigrants we have the right to be proud of who we are as well as where we come from. Having said that there are millions of people dying to become AMERICAN and we have to ask ourselves "why is this?" Haven't we as a nation stood for what is GOOD in ALL people? Isn't that one of the basic principals our country was founded on? BEING ONE AND ALL FOR ONE ! ONE is the NUMBER – We cannot be part something American – WE HAVE TO BE ONLY ONE – A L L A M E R I C A N Period End of story.

    September 17, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  16. Tim

    Apparently, it's ok to play the Bush is Hitler card, but not the Obama is Hitler card. Democrats got the instruction manual for the race cards, Republicans did not.

    September 17, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  17. Tim

    I missed the Democratic talking points conference call that instructed everyone in the media to play their race cards. Can you replay it for me?

    September 17, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  18. Leilani

    At first I didn't see Wilson's outburst as racist as much as it was ignornat behavior.

    But when I think further, I do perceive that the only reason why Wilson was able to show such a lack of respect for a sitting president is because he doesn't think he should be president.

    And for what other reason should Wilson show such a lack of respect other than Obama is black?

    If his outburst was due to a difference of opinion on policy issues, then why be so disrespectful?

    In the end, Wilson is both racist and ignorant. Or are they one in the same?

    September 17, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  19. Shirley In California

    Sorry, I meant – I have a friend "whose" black.

    September 17, 2009 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  20. Dave

    Just what our country needs – when we disagree with the current Administrations policies, us white people will be called racists. This is a perfect example of why our country will continue to have race issues. I do believe President Obama is above this but the various talking heads, like Maureen IDIOT Dowd, on the Dem side will play the race card for all it's worth and it is sickening

    September 17, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  21. Duck Fallas

    It is not racist to disagree with the President. Far from it.

    It IS racist to call him a monkey, portray him in "white face", put his image on a witch doctor, etc. Teabaggers are in a cometition with themselves to be as racist as possible and get away with it. No class, no respect, no ideas, no clue.

    September 17, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  22. vic nashville , Tn

    I wish remove the word racism from dictionary but we can’t because still some people are acting stupid example Tea party , boycotting Obama’s students speech

    September 17, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  23. Roy

    So if you dont agree with Obama's policies, your a racist? Wow, thats desperate. When liberals get up against the wall, they scream racist. His popularity has plunged so they need an excuse. This is pathetic. People hate his policies, not him as a person.

    September 17, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  24. Scott, Tucson

    The only ones here bringing up the race card are the democrats and their sycophants in the left wing media. I guess it's true that when they can't defend the issue, just call those on the other side a racist.

    September 17, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  25. RONNIE

    Just look at the over reaction,especially in Texas,to Obama's planned talk to school children! The only explanation is RACISM! I live not far from Arlington,Tx. and was embarrassed for the rednecks who live there.The republican dracks wouldn't have said BOO if it had been Clinton.

    September 17, 2009 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
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