Towleroad Guide to the Tube #536: Jimmy Carter Racism Edition

At a town hall at Emory University last night, Jimmy Carter repeated assertions he made to Brian Williams on NBC Nightly News earlier this week, that the vitriol being spewed toward Obama by right-wing conservatives is race-related.

Said Carter in the Williams interview (above, left): "I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated
animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is
a black man, that he's African American. I live in the
South, and I've seen the South come a long way, and I've seen the rest
of the country that shared the South's attitude toward minority groups
at that time, particularly African Americans. And that racism inclination still exists. And I think it's bubbled up
to the surface because of the belief among many white people, not just
in the South but around the country, that African-Americans are not
qualified to lead this great country. It's an abominable circumstance,
and it grieves me and concerns me very deeply."

At Emory, Carter stood by his remarks (above, right).

Reactions from the right wing have come fast and hard:

RNC Chair Michael Steele: Carter "trying to color the debate."

LAURA INGRAHAM: Carter "a self-loathing Southerner".

GLENN BECK: Osama bin Laden supports Jimmy Carter's views.

NEWT GINGRICH: Carter a failed President.


  1. Mike says

    Carter was right on target! These people can’t stand having a black as president. Of course, the republicans are seizing the comment and twisting it to change the subject from health care, etc. The LA TIMES spun it as this: “Former President Jimmy Carter, who has a habit of stirring controversy, said this morning that “an overwhelming portion” of those opposing President Obama’s policies are racist.” Of course, Carter didn’t say that… and it’s obvious these people don’t care
    what his policy agenda is, they just don’t want a black president – so they will oppose EVERYTHING he does. We need to seize the debate, we are letting the wingnuts control it. If we don’t, they win, we lose!

  2. willie says

    Lets see Carter successfully NEGOTIATED the release of Iranian Hostages (released on his last day in office). Reagan on the other hand had an out of control White House and Pentagon selling WEAPONS to IRAN to try to get them to release hostages … I think Carter will be remembered quite well and in years to come all the things named for Reagan will have that name come off.

  3. Nick says

    The 4 individuals’ reactions are inconsequential. None of them are qualified to judge what the Nobel laureate
    has to say as one would have to have a pulse and a conscience and intelligence in order to contribute in any way. The four Republican personalities (and that is all they are) possess none of the above mentioned qualities. Shooo go back to the holes you collectively crawled out of.

  4. says

    Much of the animosity is OBVIOUSLY race-related, and Carter is absolutely right.

    Just take a look at what the folks at wingnutdaily say about healthcare and illegal aliens:

    “The white-hating 50%-white, 42%-arab, 8%-African, race-baiting extraordinaire and racist in chief, Obama and his followers of mentally-ill self-hating white leftists and all white-hating non-whites (about 80 % of Afro-America (the other 20% are just plain old Americans), are going to give “free” health care -especially to the illegals mainly because they are not white.

    The name of this game is: “whitey’s gonna pay” for everyone (i.e. from the mind of the massively ignorant: “whitey’s gonna get enslaved for pay back- yo! and our man’s gonna do it”).

    Not only will “evil whitey” be forced to pay for 30 million “Afro-Americans” and all 20 million plus illegals who have flooded into the USA from south of the border – unhindered and by plan – but “evil whitey” will be helping to pay for health care of the rest of the non-white world – once the USA is divided and dispersed to the “one world government” -socialist utopia. (that’s the bonus prize -“evil whitey” loses his/her nation).”

    And it’s NOT about race???

  5. another matt says

    I think anyone with more than a 4th grade education would have heard Carter’s comments and said “Well…yeah, duh.”

    And that’s why the right doesn’t get it.

  6. anon says

    Carter’s attempt to cut-off all debate about Obama’s policies is going to fall flat. “A conspiracy so vast!” is not a good argument, particularly when the press dutifully reports poll numbers showing a lack of consensus, not to mention Democratic members of the house and senate that aren’t going alone. They’re all racists now? The only way to prove you’re not a racist is to support Obama’s policies? This argument is DOA.

  7. RB says

    So it is no surprise that I am not a fan of either Carter or Obama. However, having spent my life in the South, Atlanta specifically, Carter was not wrong with this assessment of race. I do think Obama has faced an enormous amount of criticism that is deeply based upon the fact that he is a black man. I find that sad and wrong.

    I disagree with Obama’s economic policies, his support of unions, big government and taxes and that has nothing to do with his race. While I was excited to see a black man break that glass ceiling I was and continue to be concerned by the policies of this black man.

    In regards to Carter, I still say he was one of the worst presidents we have ever had but in this case he wasn’t wrong!

  8. Darren says

    Yup! Former President Carter nailed a lot of this on the head. “oh my god, white folks done lost their powers.” bs that these gonzos are going on with as the real fear for the behavior at the town halls and protests. I keep remembering these were the same folks who vilified me for being against the war in Iraq because I didn’t support the President and I should support the President no matter what. Yeah, shoe, other foot. Hypocrites, thy name is GOP.

  9. ED2 says

    President Jimmy Carter never fails to impress me with his honesty and thoughtfulness. Rather than be PC or blunt for sheer media exposure, his comments seek to expose the elephant in the rooms. He doesn’t pull any punches and his “controversial” comments are attempts to bring honesty to situations so that we can have frank discussions and hopefully resolution. Too bad being truthful is generally met with scourge and dishonesty in this bullsh*t world.

  10. elg says

    Jimmy Carter is NOT helping Obama even if what the former president is saying is true.

    Obama is going to be on “Meet the Press” this Sunday as well as several other Sunday news shows. Instead of being asked about Health Care Reform, Obama is going to be bombarded with questions about what Carter said.

  11. Jason Young says

    Accusing people who have policy differences with Obama of racism for their opposition to his policies is not doing the Progressive side any favors. While there are certainly aspects of the Tea Party crowd who are racist, I highly doubt that the majority of people who are opposed to the current proposed reforms do so for the reason of racism.

    Support for Obama’s/the Democrats policy proposals are falling in all categories from the polling I have seen for various reasons, including opposition due to the lack of a public option. Frankly the racism accusations reek of desperation on the part of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. The new focus of racist accusations against Obama’s opponents is idiotic and counterproductive to the efforts of Progressives. Who really thinks that conservatives and libertarians would be not be just as likely to oppose these measures if the President was Joe Biden, a crusty old white guy. The constant shouts of racism are making it appear that the Progressives have lost the “intellectual” argument to Republican framing of the issue. Most of the charges of racism are just ad hominems and more and more people are realizing it. Opposing some policy of Obama’s is not racist any more than opposing some policy of Reagan would have been ageist.

    I am a libertarian therefore I do not support any of Obama’s current policy proposals as relates to healthcare. I am opposed to the current corporatist healthcare proposals such as the original HR3200 and I am opposed to socialized healthcare whether “single-payer” or outright nationalization of the healthcare industry. I do not oppose Obama because he is of a mixed racial heritage or is perceived to be black. In fact I am glad that America elected a member of a minority who has a “foreign-sounding” name. His election was a watershed moment in American history. If you don’t believe me ask an older black person who had to live through Jim Crow laws, segregation, and the often painful process of integration. While I oppose Obama, as I would oppose all others who support policies I do not support, it is because we differ starkly on political philosophy and ideology and not due to some innate characteristic he possesses.

  12. keith says

    “Never argue with a fool… they will drag you down to their level and beat you up with their experience there…” While I’m paraphrasing, the Right is so wrong on this point!

  13. Jim says

    With signs at the Sept 12 rally comparing Obama to Hitler and saying things like “Keep your black hands off my white body,” I’d say Carter’s statements are pretty dead on.

  14. John says

    One conservative even had the gall to dismiss minorities as “ungrateful cretins” for refusing to embracing “civilization.”

    That’s quite a lot of audacity from folks who have been stealing from everyone else for centuries. Why do you think all the loot of Asia, Africa, and the Americas are locked away in the museums of Washington, New York, London, Paris, Berlin, and Rome?

    The Egyptian Pharaohs and Chinese Emperors were having a special yard sale?

    Not to mention the natural resources enjoyed by the West that were – and still are – mined from the land using forced labor (diamonds from South Africa, oil from the Middle East, rubber from Southeast Asia, agricultural goods from Central America, and so forth).

    These are just two examples of why the wingnuts have their blinders on. I’m sure we could easily list numerous others.

  15. says

    Carter’s comments are on the money, and the proof is apoplectic idiots like Glenn Beck.

    But Carter’s honesty is probably the last thing the Obama administration wants or needs in the middle of the health care reform process. The right loves to accuse the left of using accusations of racism to distract people from Obama’s policies but actually the reverse is true–the right adores the race stuff because it muddies the policy waters and takes the focus off Obama’s attempts to actually accomplish things.

    Any smart progressive would realize that the right–empty of concrete policy proposals at the moment–benefits from fueling the racial fires, not the left. Carter’s political skills are, alas, dimmer than his insights.

  16. BEACHMAN says

    Let’s get real, even Democrats rebut Jimmy Carter’s lastest rant..add to the list of those who publicly oppose the remarks the following Democrats: Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.), Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), to name a few

    this is another tactic to subvert honest debate. Personally attack the person, to ignore the ideas. It only divides Americans rather than uniting us to find solutions to challenges facing our nation.

    Voicing opposition to the president’s policy proposals is not being a racist. It is being an American.

  17. says

    Jim, and don’t forget: Obama’s Plan: White Slavery

    No, never about race.

    @Jason: there may be a few who object to Obama’s policies for ideological reasons, but the right wing sites I read all reek with racism. I grew up in New Orleans, and I know it when I see it.

  18. says

    I also agree with most here and Carter that it’s about race. But I also think it’s about culture and class (yes, both kinds). Obama is African American, cultured and classy. So I think it also comes back to the elitism charge that was so bizarrely, but successfully handled by G W (I went to Yale) Bush. They want a yuk, yuk (yuck) president who’s just like (white) them.

  19. nader paul kucinich gravel says

    (((fear & smear)))

    to: All Shills & Trolls
    from: AIPAC Neocon Megaphone
    re: Demonization of President Carter

    Ventura Sheehan Perot Paul Nader McKinney Kucinich Kaptur Gravel Gonzalez Clemente Choate Carter Baldwin Anderson

    Israel-first dual-nationals of AIPAC
    Willful major media disinformation
    Federal Reserve scam
    Anthrax intimidation
    9/11 sham

  20. B-rod says

    The irony here is that two of the videos are by two political failures…Gingrich and Steele, and the other two are never-elected blabber mouths who represent no one but themselves and their “audience”. And they think they’re even qualified to discuss race in this country, esp Beck who is clearly a race-baiter and seeks to incite a race war. Irony much?

  21. dramaticartchild says

    Of course, you all oppose the president’s proposals due to your “libertarianism”, and such. Okay. Have any of you been way uptown lately,like WAY uptown. . .176th and up? Or maybe beyond the confines of Williamsburg and actually seen the rest of Brooklyn? Have you ever passed through an impoverished upstate NY town, where the factories have closed and the jobs moved overseas? If you have, you would know that there are some people, NOT illegal immigrants, who , that’s right, WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO AFFORD HEALTH CARE ON THEIR OWN. Even what the president is proposing WILL NOT go far enough when it comes to helping them. I plead with you, if you have any moral compass at all, to rethink your views. I’m not some raving socialist, and I hardly think you’d manage to find a sizable majority of “socialists” in a country like, Britain, which already has “nationalized healthcare. If you think health is a “privilege” not a “right”, then you have to take that belief to its logical conclusion. . .which is that people without health insurance, or those who are kicked off their plans, should be left to die. After all, America is all about individualism and self-sufficiency (except if you’re a bank, apparently), and if you can’t make it, its survival of the fittest. Evolution! Manifest Destiny!
    Or maybe, just maybe we can all EVOLVE a little more and realize that as fellow citizens of this sometime Republic, we are all in this together, that it CANNOT be just about “MY family, MY house, MY bills” all the time,but a little bit about the person on the street who has less than you. Please, please, please reconsider.

  22. Jason Young says

    For starters not all libertarians are just Republicans who like to smoke pot. You shouldn’t lump me in with the idiots who believe, or for that matter even listen to, Limbaugh, Hanity, Beck or any of the other corporatist mouthpieces of Rupert Murdoch, and other billionaires’ media empires. I was involved with the tea parties before the Beck crowd came in and took them over. I was organizing them back when they were libertarian anti-drug prohibition, anti-war, anti-corporatist, pro-civil liberty, pro-freedom events that drew maybe 20-50 people on a good day. It makes me very sad to see what became of the movement that I inadvertently helped start. I never would have participated or helped start them had I seen where they would go. I figured they would remain fringe events that I could have fun at and disseminate information about my political viewpoint. I guess that’s part of being young and naïve though. That is why I am not involved with anything but my local Stonewall Democrats chapter anymore, because I have had the nasty experience of seeing where things can move badly quickly.

    There is certainly a racist fringe now present within the Tea Parties, however the ones I have attended locally and seen reports of from around the rest of my state suggest that many of the protestors are coming out to oppose our massive national debt, the bank bailouts, and socialized medicine. The majority of these people would be out protesting even if Hillary Clinton had won the nomination and the presidency instead. I remember at many anti-war protests I attended between 2004 and 2006 there were many, many signs comparing Bush to Hitler and monkeys and many other things. People should not dehumanize other people irrespective of which side of the political spectrum they fall on. Jimmy Carter is wrong about this being the first time a sitting President has been dehumanized as even a cursory glance at newspaper comics from the 1700’s and 1800’s would tell you.

    I’ve never been to New York, so I have no idea what conditions are like there, except from reports and statistics that I have seen. I live in Arkansas and it has been and remains one of the poorer states in the country. Many of our counties had double-digit unemployment during the boom much less the bust, although the more urban parts have been and are doing ok.

    Why do you think I particularly care about whether immigrants come here or not? I’m not Native American so obviously I can’t be that opposed to immigration. I’ve lived in Europe in one of the Arabic ghettos and frankly I think too many people get themselves in a tizzy about immigration. I think if someone immigrates to a country then they should adapt to the culture to at least some extent, but I have zero problems with people coming here and trying to find a better life. Illegal immigration is caused by stupid laws that need to be reformed to allow more people to come here legally.

    What you don’t seem to understand is that socialized healthcare is a dead end. It makes advancements in healthcare become virtually non-existent. It stagnates medical care. When I was in France and I went to the hospital for something very minor. I felt like I was stepping back into the 1970’s. The rest of the world depends on the U.S. for most of its major medical advancements at the moment. Our prescription drug costs are so high because we subsidize the rest of the world’s prescription drug costs. We are the country that develops most new and effective treatments for cancer, heart disease, and many other diseases that are expensive to treat. Socialized medicine works fine as long as you have a very typical medical problem. However the more unique a particular aliment is the more likely a person is to have to travel to the U.S. or other countries with a relatively free market healthcare system to receive the specialized treatment.

    It is no mistake that healthcare which is one of the most heavily regulated industries in the United States is also one which experiences huge cost increases with every new layer of bureaucracy that is tacked on and layered up by politicians. The government is responsible for the current outrageous costs of medicine. The federal government has created and subsidized a corporatist system for its well-connected friends. The answer is not more government but less. The only way to decrease costs is to eliminate the layers upon layers of current bureaucratic crap. There is no reason to believe that costs will decrease under a government plan as every medical “reform” they have passed has cost at least two to three times more than estimated. To make matters worse HR3200 is one big handout to all sorts of special interests groups in the medical field. The U.S. is already bankrupt. There is no money to pay for Obama’s plan even if it wasn’t a horrible idea.

    You have presented a false dichotomy by saying healthcare is either a right or a privilege. All positive “rights” are merely state privileges. One cannot have a right to force someone else to provide them a product or service because it would violate the other person’s rights in order to use violence against them to provide it for you. If someone can take something away from you for whatever reason then it is a privilege not a right by definition. Healthcare is a product and a service. Like all other products and services it is best provided through the system of voluntary agreements and exchanges that make up a market when it is free. No one in their right mind would argue that we have a free market healthcare system. Our current system is a chimera of government and big business partnerships that need to be torn down as quickly as possible. I may be mistaken, but you also seem to assume that charity does not exist in the world and that it would somehow be incapable of taking care of people, despite the fact that it did so for many years before the corporatist state expanded under the guise of welfare for the people. I know that I give to charity all the time and I don’t make much money at all (below $30,000 a year and with zero benefits). In a free market system costs would be inexpensive enough that charity could cover most, if not all needs.

    My support for a free market to take the place of the current corporatist system is out of concern for the needy in the future and not just my own health or family’s health. Only a free market can give us the medical advancements necessary to truly prolong life further while making it worth living as well. We need a system that emphasizes quality of life as well as quantity. The current system drastically reduces our ability to research new drugs and treatments, while drastically increasing costs for the benefit of the politically well-connected.

    One major problem is that the Republicans, who are and always have been the party of corporatism and government privilege at the expense of the common man, use the rhetoric of being for free markets to get elected and then do nothing but support their corporatist buddies (not that the Dems are much better in that regard). The Republicans do not and have never supported free markets, outside of a few fringe figures that actually believed the Republican Party’s rhetoric and managed to win somehow within the party. Republicans support government intervention just not in the same ways that most Democrats do.

  23. Debbie Wilson in Washington says

    Obama is a nigger, and should be treated as such.

    In 2012, when President BIDDEN takes on his Republican opponent, the Democrats will learn.

    The party of Communists and socialists must pay for the damage that they are doing.

  24. says

    YEAHISAIDIT: Actually, I think Obama is the perfect example of how race is no longer the way class is experienced. I am white, educated, middle class and I consider myself in the same class (if not quite as wealthy) as Obama. I even went to the university where he taught. I would say that for most Americans, race is now distinct from class and that’s what many of the teabaggers are so upset about.

  25. John says

    Libertarians could’ve divorced themselves from the Republicans when Bush went to war for no reason. Or when Cheney dismantled our civil liberties. Or perhaps when the religious right started with this anti-gay nonsense back in the 1970s.

    They didn’t. Fact.

    Like all “junior” partners in the GOP ruling coalition, they were seduced by power and money. They kept their mouths shut and got those capital gains tax cuts they’ve been bitching about for decades. And now they’re trying to blame the failures and excesses of the conservative revolution – which dated all the way back to 1994, 1980, or even 1968 depending on who you ask – on everyone else but themselves. They refuse to take any responsibility for being the passive enablers that allowed the Republican Party to run amok with the racism, sexism, homophobia, and what have you. Typical selfish behavior from a selfish constituency.

    Republicans who smoke pot?

    Try crackheads who are too delusional, egotistical, and self-righteous to admit they’ve been a steady of the GOP drug for years. They’re addicted and they don’t even know it.

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