Do We Expect More of a Black President?
I thank Melissa Harris-Perry [“Black President, Double Standard,” Oct. 10] for letting me know that I am a racist for participating in the anti–tar sands pipeline rally and otherwise demanding that President Obama live up to his past rhetoric. I’ve refrained from criticizing Israel to avoid being called an anti-Semite. Now this.
Little Rock, Ark.
I thank Melissa Harris-Perry for taking the reader to a deeper point of view on the liberal white voter. It’s refreshing to read an article that bravely puts unpopular information in the context of facts supported by empirical data and not purely opinion. Her comprehensive grasp of American history, politics and social justice issues is astounding and informative.
I believe Melissa Harris-Perry is dead on when she argues that “liberal electoral racism is the willingness to abandon a black candidate when he is just as competent as his white predecessors.” I differ on her use of the word “racism,” however. I think the correct word is “errorism.” There is certainly a greater societal acceptance of African-Americans in leadership roles than in years past. But, like Harris-Perry, I think it is evident there is less willingness to hang in there through thick and thin with black leaders compared with white leaders. As I view it, those who go negative on African-American leaders like that are not in their own minds racist. I argue that they make a judgment error, which is objectively provable by comparing where white leaders turn unpopular versus black leaders.
As an African-American and a member of the so-called professional left, I find Melissa Harris-Perry’s column offensive. I voted for Obama because of what I then believed he stood for. I don’t believe white liberals are holding Obama to a higher standard than his white compatriots. I believe that, just like me, they are holding Obama to a standard of actually having a standard. After almost three years, I have no clue what the man stands for, what he believes in. Generalizing articles like this are an insult to all those who yearned for change and voted for him in 2008.
MESFIN M. MESMER
Melissa Harris-Perry may be our most astute analyst of the interface between race and politics, but her lens magnifies racial recidivism as a factor in white flight from Obama. It’s the economy, stoopid. Clinton benefited from Bush One’s enlightened tax hike; Obama suffers from Bush Two’s fiscal profligacy. It’s that simple. We also feel cheated. We were promised a Churchill, but we got a Chamberlain.
While I don’t doubt that American racism is continuously morphing into new and noteworthy varieties, I do not think Dr. Harris-Perry has found an example of it this time. I was in high school during the Clinton years, so Obama is the first president I’ve ever had the opportunity to have hope for. He inspired the turnout of record numbers of young voters, and we celebrated the election of our first black president with an optimism magnified by the eloquent and persuasive campaign rhetoric about hope and change. Needless to say to most Nation readers, I am beyond disappointed. Given our disillusionment, it seems more relevant to ask why those who maintain their support of the president continue to do so. He has broken many hearts saying things would be different this time.