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.