The Boy Who Cried Wolf and other Bedtime stories

Once upon a time…

How many times did your parents read the Boy who Cried Wolf to you?  Perhaps you read it in grade school when you were learning about myths and fables.  I think almost all societies have a children’s tale about a child that cries out about something foul just to get attention only later to not be taking seriously when the foul actually happens because he’s just said it too many times to be believable.

Has the Obama campaign overplayed the race card yet? Has he yelled race-baiter one too many times? What will this mean, not only to Obama and his aspirations, but how will this impact black people who have legitimate experiences with racism but now face a cynical nation that’s been played one too many times?

Those of us that watched the Hillary/Obama primary unfold were horrified the day the race card was played on Bill Clinton.  He was talking about Obama’s ever evolving positions on the Iraq War, he labelled them a fairy tale, and bam!  There it was,  the race card.   President Clinton was charged with calling Obama’s life story a fairy tale– a story line clearly out of context and fabricated.  Like many fabrications, enough repetitions and they become legend.  Over and over we saw this pattern, some off the cuff remark by Geraldine Ferraro about Obama’s qualifications and resume and there it was again, the race card.

Each time we’d see the Obama campaign run to the press, demand justice, create a stir, then the, candidate would come out in a few days and say, well, I think this was a big misunderstanding.  Folks, how many times will this candidate cry wolf?

This time we see it at play against McCain.  When McCain uses images of Brittany Spears and Paris Hilton to imply that Obama is a media phenomenon, some one in the Obama campaign implies that it’s just one of those ads showing black men wanting young white women.  Scary black men!!!  Young white women!!! There it is again, that race card.

Then, in three separate speeches in Missouri, Obama tells his audience that McCain will try to frighten them because Obama doesn’t look like the other presidents on the currency or his name is a little funny.  There it is again, the race card.

First off, EVERY one knows that Ulysses is a household name.  Didn’t you go to school with tons of boys named Ulysses?  I know my daughters bring home guys with powdered white wigs like Washington’s all the time.

Second off, some one should tell Obama that he’s about as scary-looking as Steve Urkel.

Finally, there are some real racial injustices in the world and I’m afraid they are going to get lost because of all this.  When folks starting talking about racism, I’m beginning to think that no one is going to listen any more.  If Obama keeps playing the race card every time he faces criticism, I swear, this is going to prevent any true dialogue about racism.

I had thought that this tactic would go away after Obama had solidified African American votes during the primary.  After all, it was a tactic that pulled the southern states out of the Clinton column.  However, what is the strategy now?  Portray McCain as a racist for the benefit of white liberals?  Most of the latte liberals are in his column any way, what particular good does that do?   How does this benefit any one at this point?

I teach seminars in economics.  Part of what I do is to try to get my students to think critically about promises candidates make on the economy and what is and isn’t possible.  I teach in New Orleans.  I have many black students.  I’m now completely self-conscious about discussing anything on the candidate’s economy policies now because I feel that any criticism of Obama’s positions or his judgment are going to be taken wrong.  Believe me, if you sit in my class, I run EVERY politician up the flag pole. I’m an equal opportunity critic. This is the first time in over 20 years of teaching I feel constrained.  I can’t discuss even the issues because any criticism surrounding Obama might be labeled racist and create a wall between me and the students I’m trying to serve. I feel like I’ve lost a tool from my tool box. This is impacting my ability to relate to people.

So, what do you think?  How many times can Obama play the race card and his campaign label folks as race-baiters before it is no longer taken seriously? Am I the only one that worries about race relations because of this campaign tactic?

Update:  This is so cute, I had to add it.

6 Comments on “The Boy Who Cried Wolf and other Bedtime stories”

  1. Jmac says:

    “Second off, some one should tell Obama that he’s about as scary-looking as Steve Urkel. ” ——–

    Thanks for the laugh, Dakinikat!

    I have a friend here in Texas who has been a Democratic all her 60 years and her passion has been civil rights (because of the racism she encountered growing up in Texas) and she is completely appalled with Obama and the race card. I think he has set race relations back and it is only going to get worse as the campaign goes along. Bill and Hillary couldn’t fight back but Republicans can and will call him on it.

  2. kenoshaMarge says:

    You can’t shame a real “racist” by calling them on their bigotry. It’s part of who and what they are and most if not all of them are convinced of the righteousness of what they believe.

    When people who use ordinary words; articulate, presumptuous, fairy tale etc. are now called racist you end up alienating people who hate racism and hate being called racists even more.

    This campaign has caused some problems in race relations that will have long-lasting and bitter results. And the Democrats have done it to themselves. Can’t blame this one on the evil Republicans can we?

  3. vixen says:

    its really a damn shame what Obama has done to win using his black-ishness (is that a word? LOL). As a black woman I really think he has cried racism so much that you can’t even have a concise policy discussion with any of his supporters with out being called racist, and I am black.

    He has set black people that deal with real racism back and black pols back as well because they will never be treated as real candidates but treated like Obama

  4. salmonrising says:

    I have become more, not less, vocal about my criticism of Obama’s views and policies since HRC suspended her campaign. Up until then I was tip-toeing around on egg shells with friends who were frenetic Obama supporters and especially with AA classmates and co-workers… and I didn’t feel good about myself for being so “careful” …it’s never been my style! But I well remember the race riots of the 60s’. I was a student leader at the time and ended up being called racist by black students who did not understand that I had made a decision based on cost considerations and certainly not race. Since then I have bent over backwards to make sure I am being aware of others’ perspectives.

    Parenthetically, I must say that I now have a MUCH MUCH better understanding of how black Americans can take offense at something I don’t grok as racist. My understanding was painfully acquired as the misogeny in the present presidential primary was “brushed off”, ignored, or denied. If anything, it has made me more inclined to consider alternate views even when something has seemed innocent to me. It’s been a learning moment for me personally.

    Obama’s actions since becoming the presumptive nominee have simply confirmed what I believed to be his agenda. I use facts to make my points and use facts to refute the counterarguements. Lately, the counterarguements seem to be decreasing….hmmm

    FWIW, I appreciate your teaching dilemna but your writing demonstrates you have the intelligence to critique a policy without allowing your personal views to intrude. It is an especially tall tall order in the present climate in our country, to say nothing of New Orleans but for the sake of your integrity and the education of your students I hope you try. And if the sting of misogeny helps you find ways to hear your students better and communicate with them more effectively, well as Shakespear’s sonnet said “Sweet are the forces of adversity…”

    Best of Luck

  5. Jmac says:

    Salmonrising, I, too, am much more vocal in my opposition to Obama. I hesitated to say anything against him to fellow democrats the same way I used to hesitate to say anything about religion – I’m not at all religious but didn’t like to speak up to a religious friend because I didn’t want to sway their opinion.

    Well, that changed after living in Nebraska for two years and then moving to Texas. The same with Obama – he has convinced me he’s not a Democrat at heart and I don’t mind who knows. It is causing major problems for my husband who is county chair but I have to speak up.

    I’m with you that Dak should try.

  6. CognitiveDissonance says:

    Dakinikat, I think people stopped taking it seriously long before the end of the primaries. In fact, it’s my suspicion that Hillary won such lop-sided victories in WV and KY precisely because of the race-baiting. What has been apparent to me is that for someone who cries racism so frequently, he is quite the racist himself. We’ve heard about “typical white people” and xenophobic Appalachians. How is that not racist? And why would anyone vote for someone who had that image of them? I suspect there are people all over America who feel that way. I would bet that every time he continues to play the race card, he will lose more votes. And unfortunately he will also cheapen the word to the extent that real racism will no longer get much attention. That part really makes me angry!