Huffpost Politics
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Jan Herman Headshot

Barbara Ehrenreich Does It Again

Posted: Updated:

Just as she did last month, she has published the best op-ed read of the day, this time with an assist from Dedrick Muhammad.

Their lede asks, "What do you get when you combine the worst economic downturn since the Depression with the first black president?" And answers:

A surge of white racial resentment, loosely disguised as a populist revolt. An article on the Fox News Web site has put forth the theory that health reform is a stealth version of reparations for slavery: whites will foot the bill and, by some undisclosed mechanism, blacks will get all the care. President Obama, in such fantasies, is a dictator and, in one image circulated among the anti-tax, anti-health reform "tea parties," he is depicted as a befeathered African witch doctor with little tusks coming out of his nostrils.

For the next 1,600-plus words, with one example after another, they illustrate and prove what the headline calls "The Recession's Racial Divide." And they draw the appropriately grim conclusion that "despite the right-wing perception of black power grabs, this recession is on track to leave blacks even more economically disadvantaged than they were." Noting emphatically:

Does a black president who is inclined toward bipartisanship dare address this destruction of the black middle class? Probably not. But if Americans of all races don't get some economic relief soon, the pain will only increase and with it, perversely, the unfounded sense of white racial grievance.

Give Ehrenreich this year's Pulitzer for Commentary already. She oughta win hands down.

Postscript: Bill Osborne responds:

Very interesting blog, but it might leave the impression that all critics of Obama (or the larger systemic problems of our government) are racists.

Going back to the Shay's Rebellion thread you addressed a few weeks ago, we might remember Madison's comments during the constitutional debates:

In England, at this day, if elections were open to all classes of people, the property of landed proprietors would be insecure. An agrarian law would soon take place. ... If these observations be just, our [own] government ought to secure the permanent interests of the country against innovation. Landholders ought to have a share in the government, to support these invaluable interests, and to balance and check the other. They ought to be so constituted as to protect the minority of the opulent against the majority. [emphasis added]

Chomsky takes this idea and asserts that America is not a democracy and that it was never intended to be. He says we live in a Polyarchy. Just before the midterm elections of 2006, he gave his arguments, which are really worth a listen. They still apply.

Bush pushed Polyarchy to its extreme in favor of the opulent, and a huge amount of the population lost faith in the government. Obama has become the perfect alibi for rebuilding trust in Polyarchy. On one hand, his race is a basis for rightwing hatred; on the other, it is is used to mollify moderates and the left, making them think that the basis of our economic injustices have significantly changed, when in reality they haven't. Both sides of this equation are forms of racial exploitation. Is one worse than the other?

Observations like these about race are close to being a taboo topic, so it isn't discussed. This makes the exploitation of Obama's race an even more effective tool as a propaganda instrument.

As always, one is struck by the ingeniousness of our powerful elite in politics, media, and finance. The exploitation of race has become far more subtle and sophisticated.

After the 2008 presidential election, Chomsky detailed some of his criticisms of the Obama administration:

One sees the nature of a one-party state with its two factions, repubs and dems. Too bad this must all seem so radical when it's really mostly just rational observation.

Please don't be fooled.