President Carter Not Afraid of the R-Word

A lot of people in the US believe that the r-word has no place in modern discussions. To say that an event is rooted in the word often causes listeners to tune out, because it’s immediately clear that you are making a desperate and false argument.

But, is that true? Does that explosive word never have a place in intelligent discourse?

Former President Carter boldly stepped forward and said what he meant– using the r-word fearlessly, but carefully.

The word shouldn’t be thrown about recklessly, but there are times when it is reasonable and not to be ignored.

Click here for a discussion. And, here.

Update: Watch Princeton’s Prof. Melissa Harris-Lacewell comment on this issue here. She sees a difference between anti-racism and neutrality.

Update: There’s been a lot said about the former President’s words and assertions that his comments were too broad and not limited to those with “who go beyond disagreement to making statements and committing acts that are filled with extreme emotion (extreme fear or anger).” So, here are two quotes (italics added). Judge for yourself…

“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.”

“When a radical fringe element of demonstrators and others begin to attack the president of the United States as an animal or as a reincarnation of Adolf Hitler or when they wave signs in the air that said we should have buried Obama with Kennedy, those kinds of things are beyond the bounds. I think people who are guilty of that kind of personal attack against Obama have been influenced to a major degree by a belief that he should not be president because he happens to be African American. It’s a racist attitude, and my hope is and my expectation is that in the future both Democratic leaders and Republican leaders will take the initiative in condemning that kind of unprecedented attack on the president of the United States,”


13 thoughts on “President Carter Not Afraid of the R-Word

  1. No. Racism should be discussed, but rationally and fairly, and NOT as a political tool – which is what Carter was likely using it as.

    Unfortunately it will be at least another generation before a truly frank discussion on racism can happen.

    • Can a statement about racism made in relationship to politics ever be appropriate or will it always be seen as a low blow and a political tool? The current environment seems to indicate that no one of any ethnicity or any age or any experience can talk about both at the same time without opening the door to derision.

    • I would say that, in the current climate, any claim of racism within the political sphere will be rightly dismissed. Obama’s supporters – including the MSM – during the campaign overused and misused the claim far too much for it to be taken in any way other than as a cheap political tool.

      Combine that with the fact that so many people refuse to even address in any fashion the racism exhibited by minorities, and you have a bad situation that has no resolution during our lifetimes.

  2. Honestly, I think there is still racism present in the U.S., but it comes from all sides. I do think when racism is truly present, we should definitely discuss it because there’s no place for racially motivated statements or actions in modern discussion.

    However, President Carter was just trying to stir the pot, not surprisingly. Disagreeing with policy doesn’t constitute racism, and obviously our president feels the same way based on his comments today.


    • What about those who go beyond disagreement to making statements and committing acts that are filled with extreme emotion (extreme fear or anger)? Is it really inappropriate to voice a suspicious that those relative few have some other motivation?

    • No, its not inappropriate to call a “relative few” racially motivated, but that’s not what Carter did. He generalized the entire movement saying it was largely racially motivated and that’s what I have a problem with.

      Honestly, I do believe racism is behind the motives of some disagreeing with our president, though far more of the dissent is based on policy. Had Carter said that, I wouldn’t have half as much of a problem with it.


    • Yes, but what you said is NOT the message that Carter wanted to convey. He’s too experienced a politician not to know how the bulk of people would take his words.

    • Oh I know that’s not what Carter meant. He meant exactly what he said; that the disagreement is largely based on race. If Carter had said that SOME was based on race, I wouldn’t have as much of a problem because it would be pretty accurate. I’m sure that some is based on race, just like I’m sure some on the left is based on race.


  3. Rick,

    The fact that racism comes from all sides is why we won’t, as a nation, have a frank discussion on it for at least another generation. Too many people are far too politically, economically, and emotionally attached to keeping racism being thought of as a “White Problem.”

    Carter is obviously one of them.

  4. You have to be very careful how you phrase things like this. Because what happens is when you casually say the majority of opposition is based in racism, people immediately stop listening. Giving appropriate examples, like the link above, show what President Carter was referring to. But when he makes a blanket statement, people can’t even hear what he is trying to communicate, because they reject his premise before he even gets a chance to explain further.

    • I’m concerned that there is no way to phrase such a discussion. I believe that people think he said “the majority of opposition is based in racism.” But, I disagree with that interpretation. I believe that he truly was referring to “the radical fringe element” and those with “intensely demonstrated animosity.” Both characterizations are limited to a certain subsection of those who disagree with Obama’s policies. However, in this climate his true words were drowned out by those who drew a different inference.

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