Summer of discontent: Backlash to the browning of America

WASHINGTON — What a weird summer!

Average Americans, normally sober-minded citizens, came undone over exaggerated threats and imagined enemies; rallied here by the thousands to “restore honor;” and denounced mosques, minority rights and the 14th Amendment — all the while demanding strict adherence to the U.S. Constitution.

This is a tempestuous and irrational time, an era of economic gloom, eroding living standards and deep fears about the future. But economic uncertainty alone cannot account for this summer’s strange currents. The runaway inflation and  deep recession of the late ‘70s/early ‘80s didn’t produce a similar season of civic craziness.

Our long, hot summer needed another ingredient to induce a fever-like madness in the national psyche: demographic change. Over the last year and a half, many Americans have begun to see a deeper message in President Obama’s inauguration — the end of the white majority. For some,  especially those who are middle-aged and older, it’s a jarring and unwelcome message.

Before you assume that I’m stereotyping all of the president’s critics as racists, let me be clear: I’m not. Many voters have legitimate criticisms of the Obama’s policies. I’ m talking about something more subtle and yet more profound: a fear of minority status. (Actually, by the year 2050, demographers expect that whites will be a “plurality,” the largest easily- identified ethnic group.)

Most human beings are more comfortable surrounded by others who look and sound as they do. It’s innate. That’s why most of us attend churches, join clubs and look for friends who reinforce our sense of identity, usually along lines of color and class. Successful black and brown professionals have had to learn to be comfortable in a sea of white faces, but most white Americans have not experienced the reverse. And many are not eager to have that experience.

While some prognosticators were naïve enough to believe that Obama’s election signaled the beginning of a post-racial era, it prompted something altogether different: a backlash against the browning of America. The winds of resentment would have blown in even if the economy were booming, but an anemic recovery provided the perfect fuel for a summer of discontent.

Timing is everything. Just as many Americans came to understand that the nation they knew was undergoing a dramatic demographic change, the economy collapsed. Unable to account for the disappearance of jobs and financial security, they linked those developments as cause and effect. The backlash is now at gale force.

So we’ve seen a summer of fury over illegal immigration, despite the fact that illegal border-crossings have plunged in the last two or three years, according to a new study by the Pew Hispanic Center. Islamophobia spiked as conservatives made a case against a proposed Islamic center two blocks from Ground Zero, claiming that it would represent a victory for jihadists. It didn’t seem to matter that the imam proposing the center has publicly denounced jihadists.

The birthers picked up the support of a retired three-star Air Force general, Thomas McInerney, who filed an affadit in support of Lt. Col. Terrence Lakin. Lakin, an Army doctor, faces a court martial for refusing to report for duty in Afghanistan because, he says, Obama isn’t a citizen and, therefore, can’t be commander-in-chief. And, just for good measure, nearly 20 percent of Americans now believe the president is Muslim — despite the 2008 controversy over his then-pastor, Jeremiah Wright.

To drain the vicious energy from the backlash, the nation needs a broad economy recovery — not just jobs but also good wages that will support a middle-class lifestyle. There would still be those among us who resent the changing face of America, but there would be less anxiety, less fear and less anger.

The return of broad prosperity would restore faith in the animating idea behind the American Dream: the promise of opportunity for all. That faith is fading right now, and citizens who ought to know better are looking for scapegoats. Those who call God “Allah” are easy targets. So are those who say “Dios.”

141 comments Add your comment

HDB

September 3rd, 2010
3:16 pm

People are going insane at the possibility of losing power….and need to find a scapegoat! It’s ALWAYS been someone that one side creates to bring forth FEAR!! From black men….to Hispanics…and now Muslims: someone always has to create a boogey-man!!

Kamchak

September 3rd, 2010
3:21 pm

YOU’RE A HATEFUL EVIL RACIST MS. TUCKER AND SHOULDN’T BE ALLOWED TO WRITE SUCH DRIVEL IN THE FIRST PLACE. ONLY A LIBERAL RAG SUCH AS THE ATLANTA JOURNAL/CONSTITUTION WOULD EVER EMPLOY YOU, AND THE FACT THAT YOU WON A PULITZER ONLY GOES TO SHOW WHAT A SHALLOW AND MEANINGLESS AWARD IT HAS BECOME!

No offense intended, Ms. Tucker.

Just a preview of the posts to follow.

Mike K

September 3rd, 2010
3:27 pm

“Average Americans . . . rallied here by the thousands to “restore honor;” and denounced mosques, minority rights and the 14th Amendment”

That’s what folks did at the Beck rally? Gosh – it didn’t seem that way to me. They just looked like a bunch of mostly white, polite older folks along with some families with young kids. I saw some anti-socialism T-shirts, but I didn’t see anythng about denouncing minority rights, the 14th Amendment, or mosques.

Nothing Is Free

September 3rd, 2010
3:28 pm

I understand that you make your living off of race.

But don’t expect everyone to see absolutely everything through the eyes of a race baiter.

Scout

September 3rd, 2010
3:30 pm

“Successful black and brown professionals have had to learn to be comfortable in a sea of white faces, but most white Americans have not experienced the reverse.”

The “fear” is not skin color but political philosophy (Al Sharpton vs. Herman Cain) or true freedom freedom (Judeo/Christian values/our Constitution vs. Islamic values/Sharia Law).

“For Islamists, democracy is a tool for acquiring power, not a culture of governance.”

Andrew McCarthy (Lead Federal Prosecutor – First World Trade Center Bombing)

ctucker

September 3rd, 2010
3:30 pm

Mike K23:27, I believe you misread the sentence. Notice that semi-colons separate the various clauses.

ctucker

September 3rd, 2010
3:31 pm

Kamchack@3:21, Yeah. You’re a realist.

Stonethrower

September 3rd, 2010
3:31 pm

Kamchak..

You are so correct. If her writings are so offensive and people respond with such negative and divisive comments against her then why do the keep reading her postings? Limbaugh stated he hoped the current president would fail and his followers (republican party) are going against any and everything he proposes.

AngryRedMarsWoman

September 3rd, 2010
3:31 pm

“Over the last year and a half, many Americans have begun to see a deeper message in President Obama’s inauguration — the end of the white majority.”

I still don’t get the hoopla about Obama and the “end of white America” or the beginning of “black America” or however people want to say it. Are we back to the old one-drop rule? “America is the only country in the world in which a white woman can give birth to a black baby but a black woman can’t give birth to a white baby”…or so I have heard. He is bi-racial, folks, and at the rate he is going pretty soon neither whites nor blacks will claim him as their own.

Hope everyone has a nice holiday weekend. :)

Mike K

September 3rd, 2010
3:33 pm

As an aside, I read liberals like Cynthia Tucker blame white people for the economic woes of the black community all the time. While some whites fret about immigrants stealing jobs, most of the race-baiting I’ve seen has come from black liberals.

This piece is just another example. Cynthia doesn’t like conservatives, so she accuses them of racism and bigotry. Of course, she’s careful to say that not all conservatives are bigots, but she goes on to write an entire piece about conservative bigotry. Her message couldn’t be clearer.

Cynthia – get over the bigoted ‘conservative-a-phobia’.

Nothing Is Free

September 3rd, 2010
3:36 pm

Mike K

Hey. She has to make it into something evil. I believe there was a Muslim Cleric on stage at least part of the time, most of the speakers were Black and all of the music was Black.

Was anything at all said by anyone about the 14th amendment? I sure didn’t hear it.

This is why Beck Drives them crazy. It’s like the scene in Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid when Paul Newman said, we’ll go straight. It will drive them crazy. It was a nice little religious service where Beck and the large group of religious leaders was just asking people to be good to each other, but this yahoo wants to make it into something evil.

Is there anyone left in the liberal camp that has an IQ in the triple digits?

At least some liberal propagandist had the decency to just attack in a general way, but some didn’t have enough sense to even watch the thing before writing a column in a newspaper about it.

Kamchak

September 3rd, 2010
3:37 pm

“For Islamists, democracy is a tool for acquiring power, not a culture of governance.”

Andrew McCarthy (Lead Federal Prosecutor – First World Trade Center Bombing)

A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.
Sir Winston Churchill

Mike K

September 3rd, 2010
3:37 pm

@ctucker
Well, exactly whom are you saying “denounced mosques, minority rights and the 14th Amendment”. If you’re not accusing the Beck-rally folks of doing that, it seems pretty odd for you to mention them in the same sentence separated by a semi-colon (I also think it’s probably grammatically incorrect). It sure seems like you’re trying to paint those folks as racists.

Kamchak

September 3rd, 2010
3:41 pm

This is why Beck Drives them crazy makes them laugh their asses off.

Fixed your typo.

The Leg Lamp is a "major award", much like Cynthia Tucker's Pulitzer and Obama's Nobel.

September 3rd, 2010
3:42 pm

Alriiiiiiiight, I win the bet!! I bet a friend Cynthia couldn’t go three days without playing the race card. It’s not “the browning of American” that’s the problem. Here’s the problem:

‘WE’RE MOVING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION’

UNEMPLOYMENT JUMPS TO 9.6%…

Economy LOST 283,000 jobs during ‘Recovery Summer’ months…

NPR: ‘Recovery Summer’ Ends With Economic Pothole…

Labor Sec. Declares: ‘There are jobs out there’…

TREASURY HEAD RUSHES BACK FROM VACATION; AIDES SEARCH FOR OTHER JOBS PACKAGE…

120 Days to Go Until Largest Tax Hikes in History…

President Claims Job Creation; Doesn’t Mention Net Job Loss of 54K…

HE NEEDS A VACATION: OBAMA TO CAMP DAVID…

Nothing Is Free

September 3rd, 2010
3:43 pm

In 50 years there will still be more White People in this country than any other race.

Second is Hispanic and Black People will be the third largest.

But isn’t it funny how they think that this is supposed to bother White folks.

Poor people with huge families make a demographic incredibly weak. Nobody gets an education and in the vast majority of cases, you end up with an underclass that is the service industry that supports kids who’s parents had children they could afford.

Even though there still will be plenty of White people, it isn’t the numbers that mater.

AngryRedMarsWoman

September 3rd, 2010
3:44 pm

Mike K – could be that Cin has some grammar issues, but I think she is stating that “Average Americans” did those things…not just people at the Beck rally, but rather the generalized “Average” American. What is an Average American? Having heard many black folks decry the “perceived” immigration problem, I have to guess she means to include them in her definition of “Average.” Have some brown friends who have an issue with the mosque/community center/trophy near Ground Zero so she must think they are “Average” too. So think she means non-media and non-political class taxpayers…yeah, that sounds about right based on my experience.

The Leg Lamp is a "major award", much like Cynthia Tucker's Pulitzer and Obama's Nobel.

September 3rd, 2010
3:45 pm

Are Hillary and her followers concerned about “the browning of America”?

Hillary Clinton’s one-man presidential campaign
By Liz Goodwin
Fri Sep 3, 11:40 am ET
While the rest of the political world is preoccupied with the midterm elections, Chicago dentist William DeJean is hatching plans for 2012. He shelled out $5,000 to create an ad encouraging Americans to back a Hillary Clinton presidential run in 2012. He says the spot will run in New Orleans, Washington, New York and Los Angeles.

Stonethrower

September 3rd, 2010
3:46 pm

Mike K & Nothing is free

“You cry why and I the victim when the culprit is Y.O.U.” You see a racist agenda and plot by the writer when non exist. Stop crying for goodness sake! You’re still the majority and the black man is not coming to get you because you think he believes Mr. Charlie ruined his live as you so fear.

Scout

September 3rd, 2010
3:48 pm

Kamchak:

Yep ……… the British before Churchill considered our founding fathers fanatics ………. and they were.

AngryRedMarsWoman

September 3rd, 2010
3:48 pm

“you end up with an underclass that is the service industry that supports kids who’s parents had children they could afford”

Hey…YAY for my kid, huh? Thanks for kicking off my weekend with a happy thought. Here I was worried that he would spend his lifetime slaving away to pay for all the entitlements that Obama (and those before him, let’s be honest) have doled out….but at least he too will have someone to mow his lawn. :)

barking frog

September 3rd, 2010
3:49 pm

Barack Obama was elected by ‘light’ people because
they liked his demeanor, his message and his family
values. He will be re-elected for the same reasons.
His economic policies are working, but as always,
slowly. The ‘illegal immigrants’ have been with us
for decades and will be here for decades more.
As Muhammad Ali was the best boxer I have ever
seen, Barack Obama is the best
Democratic politician I have ever seen.
He makes Bill Clinton and the
Kennedys look like amateurs
Demagogues, naysayers, and doomsdayers,
to the contrary, The Republic has weathered
a storm and is in better shape than most
of the world.
Excellent post.

Scout

September 3rd, 2010
3:49 pm

Bumper Stickers:

“Clinton ruined a dress but Obama ruined a nation.”

“I never thought the biggest threat to our American way of life would be our own President.”

ctucker

September 3rd, 2010
3:52 pm

AngryRedMarsWoman@3:44, My grammar — and punctuation — are just fine. Mike K may have problems with reading comprehension. BTW, you don’t think black people are “average Americans,” too? If you don’t, well . . .

AngryRedMarsWoman

September 3rd, 2010
3:56 pm

CTucker – Mike K said your grammar was at issue, I wasn’t judging but rather saying it might be the problem. In any case, I think I read it right. Of course I think black people are Average Americans…so are brown people….so I guess you mean that all of us, black, white brown and other (red) have a problem with illegal immigration, the mosque at Ground Zero and the application of the 14th Amendment.

At the Switch

September 3rd, 2010
3:58 pm

The browning of America, who cares white folk will still own everything. And you Ms. Tucker are a racist.

Peadawg

September 3rd, 2010
3:59 pm

Summer of discontent: Backlash to the ILLEGAL browning of America.

Fyt. Just thought I’d throw that in :) . Sorry if I don’t like lawbreakers…what the hell’s wrong with me!!!!!

Mike K

September 3rd, 2010
4:00 pm

@Stonethrower
“You cry why and I the victim when the culprit is Y.O.U.” You see a racist agenda and plot by the writer when non exist. Stop crying for goodness sake! You’re still the majority and the black man is not coming to get you because you think he believes Mr. Charlie ruined his live as you so fear.
—————————————————————-
I don’t know exactly what your first sentence means since it was written in broken English. I think that you’re suggest that white people shouldn’t complain about black racism because they are the ones (the only ones) who perpetrate racist acts. Well, that’s not true.

I don’t think that Cynthia is engaging in a racist plot (that sounds like something from a bad, big-budget movie). I just think she smears people with whom she disagrees politically by calling them racists and bigots. You appear to be doing the same thing.

Bob

September 3rd, 2010
4:03 pm

Why does the left have to lie about the people at the DC rally ? Now Tucker wants to jump in and tell us about those evil ignorant racists at the rally. No, not Sharptons, but Becks.

ctucker

September 3rd, 2010
4:05 pm

Bob@4:03, You, too, have problems with reading comprehension? Or did you even trouble yourself to read the post?

ctucker

September 3rd, 2010
4:05 pm

Mike K@4 p.m., It’s clear you didn’t read the post.

ctucker

September 3rd, 2010
4:06 pm

AngryRedMarsWoman,@3:56, Not all average Americans lost it over the summer. But many did.

Peadawg

September 3rd, 2010
4:09 pm

“Not all average Americans lost it over the summer. But many did.”

Tired of out of control spending
Tired of illegal aliens
Tired of illegal aliens having babies here
Tired of a bad economy
Tired of high unemployment

OH THE NERVE OF THOSE PEOPLE!!!

Mike K

September 3rd, 2010
4:11 pm

@ctucker
Mike K may have problems with reading comprehension
—————————————————————
You’ll excuse me, but I do not. If my interpretation is incorrect, please tell us what is the proper interpretation?

You wrote the following: “Average Americans, normally sober-minded citizens, came undone over exaggerated threats and imagined enemies; rallied here by the thousands to “restore honor;” and denounced mosques, minority rights and the 14th Amendment”

If you’re not saying that the people who “denounced mosques, minority rights and the 14th Amendment” are the same people who “rallied here by the thousands to ‘restore honor;’” then you should not have placed the conjunction “and” between the two sentences.

This was clearly intended to smear Beck’s supporters, as well as the “[a]verage Americans” who aren’t pleased with the liberal agenda.

Halftrack

September 3rd, 2010
4:12 pm

CT, When whites become a minority, then all the all the affirmative action laws, racial profiling etc. will then apply to them. Will you then be prepared to treat whites the way the laws call for minorities to be treated? What is keeping folks from treating each other in a civil way now?

Scout

September 3rd, 2010
4:12 pm

Red and yellow, black and white,
They are precious in His sight,
Jesus loves the little children of the world.

Mr Charlie

September 3rd, 2010
4:12 pm

I don’t care about immigrants (I agree that they offer intellectual capital this country will need), I don’t care about Obama’s religion or birthplace, (he will be gone in 2 years, companies are flush with cash, once he is gone, we will have a great economic boom).

I am interested in the Muslim situation though.

The question is, can the Koran and Constitution peacefully exist? Or are they diametrically opposed? Will those how follow the Koran ever except Homosexuality? Womans Rights? Non-Believers?

Will American live peacefully knowing that the leaders of a growing movement want to force submission, or kill them?

It will be fun to watch.

Mike K

September 3rd, 2010
4:13 pm

Sorry when I wrote “then you should not have placed the conjunction “and” between the two sentences.”

I meant to refer to clauses not sentences.

granny godzilla

September 3rd, 2010
4:13 pm

hopefully this weekend I’ll finally officially earn my moniker…

and my new grandson will most likely have the beautiful olive skin of my handsome and hardworking son in law.

our family will be blessed with a new color on our palette.

it’s a very good thing.

Mike K

September 3rd, 2010
4:16 pm

@ctucker
I think you may have misinterpreted what I was saying. I was stating that Stonethrower’s sentence “You cry why and I the victim when the culprit is Y.O.U.” was broken English that I couldn’t understand. While I take umbrage with what you have implied in this piece, I did not mean to imply that you use broken English.

However, I do think you smear conservatives as racists and bigots unfairly, while ignoring the racism and bigotry of liberals and blacks in particular. I did read your piece, and I always do before I comment.

barking frog

September 3rd, 2010
4:16 pm

The only question about Obama’s birth is whether he
was on U.S. dirt. This is only germane if you interpret
‘natural born’ as meaning born on U.S. soil. If interpreted
this way John McCain is not Natural born either and
this will probably change to get rid of anchor babies.

AngryRedMarsWoman

September 3rd, 2010
4:16 pm

“The question is, can the Koran and Constitution peacefully exist? ”

Oh, I can answer that one. That would be a big fat resounding NO. Same answer if you substituted Torah or Bible for Koran. You see, religion really doesn’t have a place in the general operations of a nation, in its politics. Some would say that Islam is really a political ideology masquerading as a religion…

Luhgnut

September 3rd, 2010
4:20 pm

How can Obama “Ruin the Nation” while GOP blocks every attempt to bring his policies to happen? Who has consistantly voted against Small Business since Obama? The GOP. The same small businesses that would create thousands if not millions of jobs. After the GOP blocks it, they then scream Obama doesn’t do anything for small business. Since most American’s (which is sad) don’t understand how the balance of Government works, they just climb right on aboard the “Obama ruined the nation” bandwagon. GOP is just mad because they aren’t the ones borrowing the money from overseas like they did the previous administration. But man, do they blame Obama for borrowing. BUSH and the GOP congress with their rubber stamps, crushed us. Not Clinton, Not Obama. If we can handle 8 years of Bush, we certainly can handle 2 years (so far) of Obama.

I'm Here From The Government And I'm Here To Help

September 3rd, 2010
4:21 pm

ctucker,

Shall we continue our dance here or the last blog? You’re choice!

AngryRedMarsWoman

September 3rd, 2010
4:21 pm

“and my new grandson will most likely have the beautiful olive skin of my handsome and hardworking son in law. ”

Mediterranean? That is the most common region for people with olive complexions. My father has primarily a German heritage and is very olive skinned and in researching today I have learned that it is not wholly uncommon in people from there and Austria. hmmm…learn something new every day, huh?

Mike K

September 3rd, 2010
4:22 pm

@ctucker
Mike K may have problems with reading comprehension.
——————————————————
Actually, I take it back – I did misread that sentence. You’re right; I’m wrong though I wonder why you would suggest that rallying to “restore honor” represents people “coming undone.” Also, bringing up the Beck rally in the same sentence as you accuse “[a]verage Americans” of denouncing “mosques, minority rights and the 14th Amendment” is a sneaky way of implying that the folks at the rally did that without explicitly stating it.

barking frog

September 3rd, 2010
4:22 pm

Scout 4:12 In my youth i would paraphrase that song

Red and Yellow Black and White
They’re all precious in my sight
All the lovely ladies of the world.

Hootinanny Yum Yum

September 3rd, 2010
4:22 pm

CT, you are sooooo old news. SOS different day.

Your commentary is no longer blog-worthy.

Buh Bye…

ctucker

September 3rd, 2010
4:22 pm

Mike K.@4:22, You surely don’t think I have a problem with saying — quite explicitly — what I mean.

I'm Here From The Government And I'm Here To Help

September 3rd, 2010
4:24 pm

Obama – Not Natural Born — TRUTH MATTERS

www . youtube.com/watch?v=MwhKuunp8D8
remove the spaces…
Obama admits in the first few seconds he was born in Kenya! Tell me I heard it wrong?