A common canard among some white voters going into the 2008 election was that Barack Obama was going to be President of black America, and not of the entire country.
This may have cost Obama a few percentage points. Actually, I was pleasantly surprised that enough white Americans overcame their racism to get him elected.
But now some prominent rightwingers are shamelessly playing on this old fear, despite the fact that Obama has studiously avoided doing much of anything to help blacks.
Just this week, Glenn Beck said that there is some basis in the claim that Barack Obama “hates white CEOs.” Not even BP has made that claim.
And then Steve King, the Republicans' rank opportunist from Iowa, said that Barack Obama’s “default mechanism” is to “favor the black person.”
King, who had to cancel some appearances because of this outrageous statement, then compounded it by refusing to apologize.
What Steve King and Glenn Beck are doing is appealing to the basest sentiment in white America, a sentiment that is most pronounced among the tea party crowd.
One of the euphoric things about Obama’s election was that it looked, finally, as though we, as a country, were moving beyond racism.
But people like Steve King and Glenn Beck keep pulling us back.
Matthew Rothschild is the editor of The Progressive magazine.
If you liked this article by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive, check out his piece “Glenn Beck’s Revivalism.”