Tuesday evening, in an interview with NBC's Brian Williams, former President Jimmy Carter stated what has been obvious to many of us since well before the election:
"I think that an overwhelming proportion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man, he's African-American," Carter, 84, told NBC television.
"I live in the South, and I have seen the South come a long way," Carter added.
"But that racism inclination still exists, and I think it has bubbled up to the surface because of a belief among many white people, not just in the South but across the country, that African-Americans are not qualified to lead this great country."
Of course, the right-wingnut apologists are all over this:
"It is an intimidation tactic. When you make that attack and call someone racist or homophobic it is a way to kind of silence them," said Brendan Steinhauser, grassroots coordinator for FreedomWorks which organized the first large-scale protest against Obama in Washington over the weekend.
"This movement is made up of people who oppose big government," said Steinhauser, describing the tens of thousands of protesters who converged on Washington.
Really? This is a hypothesis, which can be tested because we already have completed what social scientists call a natural experiment. The experiment consists of comparing what Obama's doing now with the eight years during which George W. Bush was expanding government control over all of us, creating whole new bureaucracies like the "Department of Homeland Security" (which has a nice 1930s Germany ring to it, don't you think?), and leading us into a pointless and incredibly expensive (the costs being both human and monetary) war in Iraq.
So, where were these people who claim to "oppose big government" back during those eight years? I'll tell you where they were, they were running around calling anyone who objected to Cheney and Bush's demented policies "anti-American" and "against the troops."
In this natural experiment, the main variable is: Bush and Cheney are "white"; Obama is "black." These people simply cannot stand the idea that an African-American is President and that he and his family are living in the White House. Their rhetoric shows this: "we want our country back" is one of their frequent themes, along with comparisons of Obama to Hitler, Stalin, monkeys, and apes. And there are even darker messages, such as "bury Obamacare with Kennedy" and people actually showing up at the President's speeches toting firearms.
Carter is right on, and this is a very dangerous pack of sociopaths.