Note From the Managing Editor on August Letters:
We received many angry letters regarding the Obama, N-Word headline used in the July issue. While we appreciate the feedback, we also want to save our readers from the redundancy of opinion and instead provide a summary. From the minority of people who addressed the op-ed as a whole, most actually agreed that some disapproval of Obama could be interpreted as thinly veiled racism, which was the idea that Mr. Collier put forth. The majority of letters were from people around the country who expressed outrage over the use of the word. So you see, each is its own separate issue—whether racism against Obama exists and whether you need to use a racist word to prove it. Our letters indicate the consensus is “yes” to the former and a “no” to latter.
Dear Mr. Capsis,
The first disagreement I have with this article (“Nigger in the White House”) is the statement that the president has not pushed for “strong social programs” progressives—not liberals—have expected. In my opinion, there is a difference between the two. Once Mr. Obama and his team realized that no matter what was proposed Republicans (even if it was something that originated with the GOP), were never going to cooperate, the administration had no choice but to alter its agenda. We know that key Republicans met on the very day of the president’s first inaugural to agree not to cooperate with him. As a consequence, it made it all but impossible to proceed with the kind of platform of which progressives would have been satisfied. The 2010 midterm elections made that quite clear.
In my opinion, Cantor was just a casualty of his own failings. He did not do his homework, he felt he was invulnerable. It was just plain old hubris. As a result, I must disagree with the conclusion that for the near future, a black man or woman won’t be seen as a viable candidate for the White House. Just as it was with the election of the first black councilman, mayor, representative, senator, or governor, it may take a little time but the ceiling has been broken and once that happens, there’s no going back. And as we all know, human nature is that when one party perceives an advantage over the other, it will back any candidate it thinks will win. History is littered with examples. Besides, the real reason it might take a while before another African American is elected president may be because that person will have to get in line behind a woman or a Hispanic candidate.
Although my initial response was disgust and disappointment, one should look at the headline for what it is and says. It encapsulated what a number of people in this country actually think but more importantly, that the headline underscores what this president, far more than any president before him, has ever had to tolerate. And yet, there were enough people in this country who recognized Mr. Obama as the man for the job by electing him twice to lead the nation. After having to endure the follies of the Bush-Cheney administration, history will show that decision to have been the correct one.
Rodney K. Boswell
Thousand Oaks, California