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Jewish World Review
Sept. 17, 2009
/ 28 Elul 5769
Jimma and the Elvis Factor.
Jimmy Carter strikes again!
The former President is not content having left office with high
inflation, high interest rates and high unemployment. Nor is he content with
having signed into law the Community Reinvestment Act strengthened by
President Bill Clinton which played a major roll in the eventual housing
market meltdown. Nor is he content with having cut the legs from under the
Shah of Iran, which led to the establishment of the Islamic theocracy in
Iran a state that pursues a nuclear weapon, funds the terror groups Hamas
and Hezbollah, and continues to undermine the fledgling democracy of Iraq.
Nor is he content as ex-President with writing a book in which he
likened the state of Israel and its treatment of the Palestinians to South
Africa under apartheid.
Now the former President claims the opposition to President
Obama in general and his attempt at "health care reform" in particular
stems from … "racism"!
"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," Carter said in an NBC interview.
"Racism … still exists, and I think it's bubbled up to the surface because
of a belief among many white people, not just in the South but around the
country, that African-Americans are not qualified to lead this great
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That same day, during a town hall meeting at his presidential
center in Atlanta, Carter also called Rep. Joe Wilson's "you lie!"
outburst shouted at Obama during his health care address to Congress
racist. "I think it's based on racism," Carter said. "There is an inherent
feeling among many in this country that an African-American should not be
Let's analyze this.
The President overwhelmingly carried "the black vote." Recently,
California voters changed the state's constitution to abolish same-sex
marriage. Obama publicly opposed this change. Yet opposition to same-sex
marriage by black voters the very ones who voted for the President
helped to strike down same-sex marriage. Black voters differentiated their
general support for the President from their opposition to him on the issue
of same-sex marriage.
Similarly, most Republicans who voted against the President in
November 2008 support his decision to increase our troop commitment in
Afghanistan. Republicans, not unlike the black voters in California,
differentiated their opposition to the election of the President from their
support for his decision on an issue the war against Islamofascists in
Afghanistan with which they agree.
In 2000, many Republicans urged a black man, former chairman of
the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell, to run for president. If Powell had
chosen to pursue it and had secured the Republican Party's nomination, he
could well have become the country's first black president with broad GOP
In 2006, a black man, then-Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, ran
for U.S. Senate as a Republican. Then-Sen. Barack Obama campaigned against
him and in favor of his white Democratic opponent. Obama told an audience at
the historically black Bowie State University: "Listen, I think it's great
that the Republican Party has discovered black people. But here's the thing.
… You don't vote for somebody because of what they look like. You vote for
somebody because of what they stand for." Did this make Obama a "racist"
against his own people by opposing a fellow black?
Mr. Carter, please ponder the following question. Why, in 1993,
did "racist" conservatives oppose President Clinton's attempt at government
seizure of health care? Clinton, remember, was and remains white.
Do some Americans oppose the President because of his race? Yes,
3 percent. Back in 1958, only 35 percent of whites said they
would vote for a black president. By 2006, a mere 3 percent of
all voters said they would not vote for a black
president. Call it the "Elvis Factor."
A local branch of the Anti-Defamation League, a few years ago,
invited me to speak. Before my speech, the head of the organization
addressed the audience and gave them the results of the latest poll on
American anti-Semitism. Good news, he said, anti-Semitism stood at a
historical low 12 percent.
Before I began my prepared remarks, I commented on the poll
results. "Yes," I said, "this is good news that anti-Semitism has declined
to its lowest point. But don't expect that number to get much lower. A
recent poll found that 10 percent of Americans believe Elvis Presley is
still alive, and 8 percent believe that if you send him a letter he will
The audience laughed.
But there was a serious point. The notion that we can reach a
sort of non-racist, non-sexist, non-homophobic nirvana is romantic,
unrealistic and nonsensical. Wing nuts will, unfortunately, always be with
us. It is, however, even more unfortunate that a former President of the
United States sits among them.
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JWR contributor Larry Elder is the author of, most recently, "Stupid Black Men: How to Play the Race Card--and Lose."
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