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

Kamchak

September 3rd, 2010
4:24 pm

Granny Godzilla

Good wishes and blessings to you and yours this weekend.

Brings new meaning to “labor day weekend.”

ctucker

September 3rd, 2010
4:25 pm

Mike K@4:14, I didn’t think you were accusing me of using broken English. I knew you were accusing me of “smearing conservatives as racists,” though I was quite explicit in the post that I wasn’t calling Obama’s critics racist. There is a sentence in the post to that affect.

ctucker

September 3rd, 2010
4:26 pm

granny@4:13, My heartiest congratulations! And I must say, you must be the most admired commenter on here, since you have so many namejackers! (Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.)

ctucker

September 3rd, 2010
4:27 pm

Halftrack@4:12, What laws are you talking about? City contracting laws? I’m opposed to those and have been for years. Don’t know of any other such “laws”

Mr Charlie

September 3rd, 2010
4:29 pm

CT, you yourself have called for Obama to produce his birth certificate right here on this blog. Are you not the least bit curious as to why he will not produce it?

For the record, I thought birthers were nuts, but as time goes on, even you start to wonder.

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

September 3rd, 2010
4:31 pm

ctucker,

You’re silents from the previous blog is leading me to believe you have surrendered and are now on-board about ObamaCare. Right?

Mr Charlie

September 3rd, 2010
4:32 pm

CT, when we become the minority, will you support the NAAWP? Can we start holding Mrs White American pagents? You get the drift.

Scout

September 3rd, 2010
4:32 pm

Mr. Charlie:

“To begin with, Islam is not merely a religion. It is a comprehensive socio-economic and political system, which believers take to be ordained by Allah. Islam and the West, distinct civilizations, can neither assimilate nor co-exist harmoniously.”

“The disposition that we must not critically examine Islam is both unneccessary and self-defeating. It is unneccessary because the Framers gave us a Constitution that guarantees freedom of conscience, not freedom from examination. You can believe whatever you wish to believe, but you do not foreclose your beliefs from inspection by labeling them ‘religion’ – even if the label is accurate.”

Andrew McCarthy

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

September 3rd, 2010
4:33 pm

Mr Charlie
September 3rd, 2010
4:29 pm

CT, you yourself have called for Obama to produce his birth certificate right here on this blog. Are you not the least bit curious as to why he will not produce it?

For the record, I thought birthers were nuts, but as time goes on, even you start to wonder.

DID YOU see my post at September 3rd, 2010 4:24 pm?

paleo-neo-Carlinist

September 3rd, 2010
4:35 pm

CT, my last comment disappeared. have I been banished to the kids’ table? racism, xenophbia, have long been staples of the political equation in the USA (see: anti-immigrant – Italians and Catholics, anti-Chinese – after they build the railroads, and Jim Crow laws. See internment of Japanese during WWII, and anti-Islam post 9/11 – hey, remember when a Sihkh 7-11 employee was killed in September 2001?). the actually percentage of white Americans, or the amount of pigment in one’s skin has never been the issue. Political brokers need “bad guys” or “boogeymen” so they appeal the base fears (as you point out, anyone who is “different”). ergo, racism/bigotry/xenophopbia, etc. are not the driving forces; they are opportunities to exploit fear.

Scout, are you saying (bumper sticker) America is “ruined”? I think the people who own the country kinda like things the way they are, and maybe, just maybe they’re behind the bumperstickers and the anti-mosque stuff, and the rallies to “restore honor”? just a hunch.

paleo-neo-Carlinist

September 3rd, 2010
4:38 pm

I’m here… forget about the kids’ table, you’re off to remedial spelling. did you just spell silence SILENTS?

ctucker

September 3rd, 2010
4:39 pm

paleo@4:35, I haven’t banished you. Did you link?

ctucker

September 3rd, 2010
4:40 pm

I’m Here@4:33, I facetiously suggested he donate it to the National Archives. But even if he did, the birthers would declare it a forgery.

Kamchak

September 3rd, 2010
4:40 pm

Can we start holding Mrs White American pagents[sic]?

What, specifically, is preventing you from doing that now?

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

September 3rd, 2010
4:43 pm

paleo-neo-Carlinist
September 3rd, 2010
4:38 pm

I’m here… forget about the kids’ table, you’re off to remedial spelling. did you just spell silence SILENTS?

YES, TEACHER I DID. Please be gentle with the discipline. My daddy whipped my ass last night and I still can’t sit down. It hurt real BAD!!! :)

paleo-neo-Carlinist

September 3rd, 2010
4:44 pm

no ma’am (and not the Grand Forks variety). no worries I summed up the vanishing post in my succesful post. I did suggest Scout read the Andrew Bacevich column abouy Bush/Iraq and Obama/AfPak in the July New Republic (I believe the title is “Non-Believer”).

ctucker

September 3rd, 2010
4:44 pm

To All My Gentle Readers: I’m SO glad most of us have a three-day weekend coming. Having just read a couple paranoid conspiracy theorists who believe tree-huggers/Obama are setting fire to rigs, I know we all need a break.

Mr Charlie

September 3rd, 2010
4:45 pm

Ct, it that any worse than saying GW was responsible for the 911 attacks?

andygrdzki

September 3rd, 2010
4:46 pm

LOL…LOL…LOL…LOL… you liberals will place the race card whenever you can.. what is sad,, you criticize the right for being fear mongers and spreading hate… YOU ARE ALL A JOKE… Ms. Tucker,,, YOU MY DEAR MADAM BRING OUT THE WORST IN PEOPLE FOR YOU CANNOT PRESENT THE TRUTH, OR DEBATE THE TRUTH.. SO YOU DISTORT…. No wonder you lost your editorial job and the AJC has declined in readership… you turned a once good newspaper into a liberal rag…. Due to your distorted concepts…

HDB… I REALLY THOUGHT BETTER OF YOU.. YOUR COMMENT WAS IRRATIONAL AT BEST . Play the blame game…..

With the above said,, I don’t think I will ever come to this blog again…. THERE IS VERY VERY LITTLE INTEGINET LIFE HERE

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

September 3rd, 2010
4:46 pm

ctucker
September 3rd, 2010
4:40 pm

I’m Here@4:33, I facetiously suggested he donate it to the National Archives. But even if he did, the birthers would declare it a forgery.

NOT what we were discussing but let’s go there. 1. Did you see the video link I posted. 2. Does Obama HIMSELF admit that he was born in Kenya? Should I start now holding my breath for you’re answers?

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

September 3rd, 2010
4:47 pm

Kamchak
September 3rd, 2010
4:40 pm

Can we start holding Mrs White American pagents[sic]?

What, specifically, is preventing you from doing that now?

BEING CALL a RACISTS period. Any other dumb questions?

paleo-neo-Carlinist

September 3rd, 2010
4:52 pm

any current or former Boy Scout knows you can’t burn an oil rig (they’re metal). I guess this is further proof Obama is a socialist Muslim from Kenya (ipso facto; he was never a Boy Scout!). I wouldn’t put it passed GreenPeace, but I’d have to see more evidence.

paleo-neo-Carlinist

September 3rd, 2010
4:55 pm

Mr. Charlie, Bush wasn’t “responsible” for 9/11, but it happened on his watch, and he is responsible for invading Iraq. but if he is responsible for 9/11, we shouldn’t let the GOP build any community centers in lower Manhattan, agreed?

Mr Charlie

September 3rd, 2010
4:57 pm

I’m Here@4:33, I facetiously suggested he donate it to the National Archives. But even if he did, the birthers would declare it a forgery.

I don’t know CT, this thing has gathered momentum over the years. 911, blown levies, conspiracy theories tend to go away, but for some reason, this one won’t, as I said, even you “fastiously” called for it.

It just keeps hanging around for some reason nobody can seem to explain, oh no, I forgot, you explained it, it is due to the browning of America.

Kamchak

September 3rd, 2010
4:58 pm

BEING CALL a RACISTS period. Any other dumb questions?

Commie…Commie…Commie….

Are you trying to convince me that you would be deterred from any endeavor simply because someone called you names?

paleo-neo-Carlinist

September 3rd, 2010
4:58 pm

Kam, can I handle this? I’m here… you really need to let go of your (unfounded, baseless) fears. Schedule and hold the Miss White America pagent (as is your Constitutional right), THEN cray foul IF (very important word), you are labeled a racist. chances are you won’t because finding women of one race or another attractive, or not attractive is not evidence of racism (’cept maybe when they ask the geography questions)>

Mid-South Philosopher

September 3rd, 2010
4:59 pm

An excellent article, Miss Cynthia, and one that begs the question…When “white” is no longer the majority, and “brown” has become the dominant political and social force in American society, wonder how sensitive and receptive it will be to the concerns of “blacks”, “reds”, “yellows”, and “others?” I will not be around to see it, of course, but for those who are, especially among the declining minorities, it may make for an interesting interlude.

Scout

September 3rd, 2010
5:00 pm

Mr. Charlie:

Ms. Tucker won’t let us link but Google this organization and check them out. It appears to be a breath of fresh air but they will become “marked” as well by Islamists who seek to change this country by ideology or force.

“The American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) charitable organization. AIFD’s mission advocates for the preservation of the founding principles of the United States Constitution, liberty and freedom, through the separation of mosque and state.

Many Muslims believe that they are able to practice their faith more freely and more Islamically (in a personal and secular fashion which is most suited to preserve one’s faith) in America than in any other place in the world. AIFD seeks to make a small contribution to the body of thought which articulates an understanding of Islam which separates religion and state and is in complete harmony with the U.S. Constitution and our citizenship pledge.

Through these founding principles of constitutional, secular (religious freedom free of theocracy and government coercion, and Islamic hegemony), AIFD would also serve as an example of an American Islamic institution which can be a leading voice for liberty-minded Muslims in America in the war on terror. Through regular commentary AIFD will intellectually stand against the religious fanatics who exploit the religion of Islam for a nihilistic, anti-American anti-Western war.

For more information on AIFD, please visit our website.”

Mr Charlie

September 3rd, 2010
5:02 pm

Neo, there are people who say Bush covertly set up 911 for an excuse to go into Iraq, as there are those who say Bush blew the levees in New Orleans to flush out the residents. Point is, there are wackos on both sides.

Finally, I support the mosque, but I am curious. What are you going to do when you realize the people who’s rights we are protecting ultimately want to submit to them, or kill you?

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

September 3rd, 2010
5:03 pm

Kamchak
September 3rd, 2010
4:58 pm

BEING CALL a RACISTS period. Any other dumb questions?

Commie…Commie…Commie….

Are you trying to convince me that you would be deterred from any endeavor simply because someone called you names?

HAPPENS everyday!

barking frog

September 3rd, 2010
5:05 pm

If america is browning, it will soon be done then we
will all be in the gravy.

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

September 3rd, 2010
5:05 pm

paleo-neo-Carlinist
September 3rd, 2010
4:58 pm

Kam, can I handle this? I’m here… you really need to let go of your (unfounded, baseless) fears. Schedule and hold the Miss White America pagent (as is your Constitutional right), THEN cray foul IF (very important word), you are labeled a racist. chances are you won’t because finding women of one race or another attractive, or not attractive is not evidence of racism (’cept maybe when they ask the geography questions)>

Like you’re ass, we all have our opinions. We just will never agree. Get over it! I have and will gladly debate facts. So keep using no facts to rebut them!

paleo-neo-Carlinist

September 3rd, 2010
5:08 pm

Mr. Charlie, like I’m here… you need to let go of your fears, or refrain from speculating as to how conspiracy nuts think. re: 9/11, I think (my opinion) there are two camps, the “Bush and Cheney planned and executed the while thing, including rigging the explosives on the twin towers and WTC 7″ and the other, who feel that maybe the 9/11 commission (like the Warren Commission) created more questions than answers. I wasn’t paying attention when the Warren Commission published its findings (I think I was 6 years old), but isn’t odd how some 20 or 30 years later, the government said; “well, maybe Oswald was part of a team”, which by definition, confirms a conspiracy. so then you ask yourself, “why did the feds cover it up, or withold info?” my guess is, the Warren Commission felt it was in the best interests of the United States to present the narrative that the POTUS could not be murdered by rougue (or full-time employees) of any mysterious government agency. ergo, with 9/11, maybe like Pearl Harbor, Bush knew and attack was immindent (August 2001 memo)? again, do I think he signed some secret memo saying; blow up WTC and blame al Qeada, so I can invade Iraq”? no, but until the government is more forthcoming, who knows who knew what , and when?

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

September 3rd, 2010
5:08 pm

POKER TIME!!!!

Vote Republican to CHANGE the HOPE!

Mr Charlie

September 3rd, 2010
5:11 pm

Scout, I have thought that the Muslims want to practice their religion and escape the persecution that the extremists in their religions put upon them.

However, as we see in Europe, that does not seem to be the case. The less conservative Muslims have never shown the willingness to stand up againt the extremists.

Regardless of the end result, the expanding muslim population in America will become very bloody long before anything is resolved. I believe that is what people truly “fear”.

paleo-neo-Carlinist

September 3rd, 2010
5:17 pm

I’m here… do you mean MY ass or I am (you’re) an ass? ever see Pulp Fiction? to paraphrase Jules, “that’s not the first time somebody has called me an ass.” why do you use the word “debate”. when you spout out speculative nonsense about your fear that you will be labeled a racist, it is not evidence of dialogue or debate. it’s just some person blurting out an irrational thought.

Mr. Charlie, I did not read your response before responding. I agree, I don’t think anybody “blew the levies” during Katrina – anyone who’s been to New Orleans knows the city is below sea level. I think Bush “underperformed” in terms of the federal response to Katrina, but I don’t think there was a conspiracy to flood the city. I base this on the fact that there are still areas which have not been rebuilt or repopulated. as far as 9/11, I said what I said. I think Bush “underperformed” pre-9/11, and I think it was because was obsessed with Iraq from day 1, but that’s just a hunch. either way, you have to wonder why he and Cheney were so adamant to establish a link between Saddam and 9/11, so maybe the conspiracy surrounding 9/11 was not in the planning and execution, but rather the attempts to justify invading Iraq after 9/11 (reverse enginering).

barking frog

September 3rd, 2010
5:17 pm

pnc 5:08 or maybe some jihadnuts came to the U.S. bought
some flight training, commandeered some airliners and flew
them into the WTC and pentagon. Oswald a former marine
went into a library opened a window and emptied a clip
into the President’s Limo then walked outside and went
to a movie.

Kamchak

September 3rd, 2010
5:24 pm

HAPPENS everyday!

I have and will gladly debate facts. So keep using no facts to rebut them!

Bait. Cast. Strike!

I offer as exhibit “A”, Bob Loblaw, despite three pages of name calling you were not deterred one iota.

jconservative

September 3rd, 2010
5:25 pm

Wonderful column Cynthia.

I am not sure that I completely agree with your premise that the dread (my word) of the loss of the white majority is a major cause of this summer of discontent.

I have felt for over a year now that it was due to people finally realizing that they had been duped for the past 30 years.

All the middle class heard for the last 30 years was that if we just lowered taxes, millions of jobs would be created, trillions in excess taxes would roll in, and any deficit spending being done would be paid off. As Reagan said, “I am not worried about the deficit, it is big enough to take care of itself.” And Vice President Cheney said “Reagan proved deficits do not matter”.

Now people have realized that they have been duped for 30 years. The jobs are gone; gone overseas to Indonesia, Bangladesh, China and other strange places. The excess taxes did not roll in, in fact, they dried up. And the deficits did not get paid, they are now larger than ever.

So people are teed off. They are not going to blame themselves; that is not human nature. Who to blame? The guys currently in power; it is what we have always done and will continue to do. Again, human nature.
So you have long time Republican office holders unable to win a primary.
The latest to bite the dust was in Alaska this week. Democrats are going to take it on the chin this year.

Now the browning of America, as you call it, and I like the phrase, is an established fact. It is happening and will continue to happen. I would hope that the American people are mature enough to handle the coming age of “no majorities”. That various groups will find common ground so the country can be governed. We have never been able to govern this country without compromise, and we never will.

This year if Jesus personally intervened and said “do this”, you could not get a majority to agree to his proposal.

As I said, wonderful column Cynthia.

Mr Charlie

September 3rd, 2010
5:26 pm

Kammi, such effort on such a pointless debate.

Kamchak

September 3rd, 2010
5:32 pm

Kammi, such effort on such a pointless debate.

Aw, c’mon Commie—I’m giving you your props. Those three pages were some of your best work to date. Ol’ Wootie doesn’t monitor his site, so you and DEWSTAR went at it tooth and nail.

paleo-neo-Carlinist

September 3rd, 2010
5:32 pm

barking frog. check out my follow-up. I agree that 9/11 was executed by al Qeada (the UAL 93 team spent the weekend before in my home town in NJ). as I said, I think the after-the-fact attempts to link 9/11 to Iraq is suggests the possibility of a “retroactive” conspiracy. you ever been to Dallas, Dealy Plaza? I have. You can look out the window of the Book Depository (not a library, it was a warehouse). You can walk the grassy knoll. the magic bullet alone refutes your “what if”? and as I said, in the 90’s the feds all but endorsed the conspiracy (more than one person) theory? do I think LBJ hooked up with the Chicago mob and Castro? no, but the very fact that the “official story” keeps being tweeked suggests there is more to the official story. Google JFK/Woody Harrelson’s dad and see what comes up. again, I am not saying I know or we will ever know, but when there is a cover-up, it’s usually for a reason.

Silent Majority

September 3rd, 2010
5:34 pm

Mr. Charlie @ 4:45, Boo-yow

ctucker

September 3rd, 2010
5:35 pm

jconservative@5:25, Thanks so much for the kind words. Just to clarify: I think economic disillusionment is a prime cause of this summer’s distress. Unfortunately, as you said, the causes of our current economy have been in the works for 30 years.

Mr Charlie

September 3rd, 2010
5:37 pm

Kam, DEWSTAR? is all this talk about conspiracy getting to you?

paleo-neo-Carlinist

September 3rd, 2010
5:37 pm

jcon, as a parting shot, check out George Carlin’s “the American Dream” rant from November 2007 or March 2008 (a couple months before he died). he also cites how the American middle class was “thrown overboard 30 years ago”. if you can handle the bitterness, contempt, and language, it’s a sobering and prescient moment.

Kamchak

September 3rd, 2010
5:47 pm

Kam, DEWSTAR? is all this talk about conspiracy getting to you?

Commie, I’ve been diligently reading these blogs for over a year now and while I don’t know all of your sock-puppets, your obsessive style is unmistakable.

Mr Charlie

September 3rd, 2010
5:50 pm

What’s the frequency, Kenneth?” is your Benzedrine, uh-huh
I was brain-dead, locked out, numb, not up to speed
I thought I’d pegged you an idiot’s dream
Tunnel vision from the outsider’s screen
I never understood the frequency, uh-huh
You wore our expectations like an armored suit, uh-huh

Mr Charlie

September 3rd, 2010
5:51 pm

You think DEWSTAR could do that? I don’t think so.

Lil' Barry Bailout

September 3rd, 2010
5:57 pm

Obama’s election…prompted something altogether different: a backlash against the browning of America.
————————————-

No, it prompted a backlash against idiots in high office who want to spend us into oblivion and create a permanent majority of folks dependent on government for their paychecks or welfare checks.