WASHINGTON, July 8, 2013 — Last week’s Rasmussen poll revealed some surprising and disturbing information about the way Americans think about race in America. And it may go a long way towards explaining some of the heated rhetoric that flies about both on the airwaves and Internet.
The telephone survey found:
* 37% of American adults believe black Americans are racist
* Just 15% think white Americans are racist
And when you add in the political thinking of Americans, the numbers are even more striking:
* 49% of conservative Americans see blacks as racist
* And only 12% of whites to be racist
* But only 21% of liberals say blacks are racist
* And 27% of liberals view whites as racist.
What was also surprising was that among African Americans,
* 31% believed blacks to be racist
* And only 24% said that whites are.
Those numbers speak volumes about the tenor of race relations in this country despite the first black president being re-elected last November.
Back in April in another poll, Rasmussen Reports, a conservative pollster, asked Americans to rate race relations and 42% thought they were good or better and 39% said they were improving. Now three months later, only 30% of all Americans say they are good or excellent with only 29% believing that they are improving.
The New American Climate
What is the underlying cause for such American pessimism on race? Why are conservatives so convinced of the depth of racism in the black community? There are many possible explanations, given the times we now live in, but here are five possible reasons for these new emerging views, all contributing to the new American climate:
1. Despite the reelection of President Obama just last November, he is continually portrayed by ultra-conservatives as the Divider-in-Chief. Remember when Obama was first running for office? He and Michelle Obama were repeatedly portrayed as secret haters of white society. That theme still reverberates in many of our communities and fills the Internet.
2. Rush Limbaugh and his colleagues on the radio airwaves persist in propagating that President Obama is out to destroy or dismantle our country. And they fuel the myth that so many older, white guys truly believe: they are discriminated against thanks to the present administration.
3. Affirmative action, programs set up to counteract the long term effects of discrimination against minorities — is viewed negatively by a large segment of the population as a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found: “45 percent feel the programs have gone too far and should be ended because they unfairly discriminate against whites.”
4. The George Zimmerman-Trayvon Martin case inflamed not only a community but the nation as people took sides, seeing this case literally in black and white terms. While the word racism is never spoken at the trial, it is the 800 lb. gorilla in the Florida courtroom.
5. The continual drumbeat about voter fraud has led to incessant calls for tightening up voting requirements, particularly those laws that would primarily affect minorities. Most of the voter fraud cases, however, when investigated, even in the 2012 election, proved to be only anecdotal without any basis in fact. Add to this the “stories” about voter fraud nearly always are about African Americans or people with dark skin.
While the instances of voter fraud are negligible, about .00000013 percent of the votes cast, that has not stopped nearly 1,000 laws being introduced in 46 states since 2001 to restrict voting rights.
America Becomes Balkanized
Add all this together and you get a spicy stew of suspicion of the Other: a belief that it is the Black Community — as it seeks redress for unemployment, bad schools and underfunded community programs — that is racist. Given the plight and history of so many African Americans, it is surprising that there isn’t a really strong current of racism felt by many in the black community.
Adding to America’s pessimism on race is our Congress that cannot or will not deal with the most basic of problems, our economy. Until our elected officials work together to get the economic engine chugging along again, America becomes more and more Balkanized. And the backlash of resentment translates into feelings of racism.
It’s in tough times like these, that the specter of victimhood raises its ugly head, pitting community against community, tattering the fabric of American society and producing the syndrome of “The other guy is the cause of my problems” Just look at the Rasmussen surveys for proof that it is already happening.
To contact Catherine Poe, see above. Her work appears in Ad Lib at the Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. She can also be heard on Democrats for America’s Future. She is also a contributor to broadcast, print and online media.
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