05/07/2015 01:14 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Obama's Not to Blame for the Racial Discontent in America

Scott Olson via Getty Images

Ted Cruz, the little prince of the religious/racist wing of the Republican Party, was inexplicably asked his opinion about the Baltimore protests recently. Cruz immediately laid the blame for the explosion of violence in Baltimore specifically, and racial tensions in the country more generally, at the feet of President Obama.

In the world of Ted Cruz and his ilk, President Obama has pursued policies and made statements that have served to inflame racial tensions in the country, instead of defuse them. The thinking goes something like this: President Obama came to office promising hope and change, then cynically manipulated and exacerbated divisions in the country to pursue his radical socialist agenda.

The right wing is correct that President Obama's presidency has been racially divisive. But they're at best willfully ignorant as to the causes of this racial division.

In American politics, the opposition, when it is Republican, always looks to jockey for power at the expense of the dominant party's agenda. And for those on the fringes of the right wing, the craziness always ratchets up a little more when a Democrat is in office. Even in this context, the reaction of these epicenters of the American right wing to the past seven years of the Obama administration has been extreme.

Now, a lot of this has to do with extenuating factors. The rise of the Internet and its role in disseminating views and opinions and the disaster of the Bush administration and the subsequent need for the right wing to explain away those failures as aberrations of conservatism, for example, had already created the fertile ground for a right wing populist movement that would have existed with or without a black president.

But all things being equal, the racial divide in America has gotten a lot worse in recent years, and the blame for it is on the right wing's reaction to the very existence of an Obama administration. From the infamous southern shriek of "you lie" by South Carolina's Congressman Joe Wilson at the president in 2009 to the rise in hate groups over the past seven years, the right wing in America has lost its damn mind.

The legitimacy of the president has been challenged on grounds of his birth (a problem that the Canadian born Mr. Cruz doesn't appear to have), his religion, his devotion to the current economic paradigm, and his love of America. No other president in American history has seen this vitriol and attempts to delegitimize their right to hold office.


The right wing can't accept that the American people elected a black man to the highest office in the country, so it fights to take away his legitimacy.

The racial divide and racial hate inspired by Obama that the right wing engages in does not stop at the White House, of course. In fact, while the hatred stems from the administration, it's acted out in the streets of our cities and in our communities.

Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Freddie Gray: these are the names of but a few young black men killed over the past three years. Whether it's the institution of the police or lone gunmen out to prove their manliness in their neighborhood watch, violence towards blacks by whites is increasing in brutality.


Obama has not reacted to these events and this treatment with anything more than tepid responses contextualizing black anger.

If one is fed a diet of right wing blather, one might think that the president foments racial violence and is a Black Panther. But the facts are simple. The racial divide in this country is exacerbated by the right wing's inability to accept that the president is black.

There are many reasons to criticize President Obama and his administration. To criticize him for fomenting racial discontent, as the right wing does, is ludicrous.