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
5:58 pm

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

Do what?

Deter you?

Of course he couldn’t—which is exactly my point.

If you wanted to produce a Mrs White American pageant, no amount of name calling from any/all of the 6 billion people on this planet is gonna stop you.

ctucker

September 3rd, 2010
5:59 pm

lil Barry Bailout@5:57, What exactly are you talking about? What permanent majority of people dependent on welfare checks has Obama created?Or tried to create? Pls be specific.

Lil' Barry Bailout

September 3rd, 2010
6:00 pm

Enter your comments here

Mr Charlie

September 3rd, 2010
6:05 pm

CT Said

j”conservative@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.”

Well then, the question has to be asked, why did you write the article you wrote today? Why not point out that economic disillusionment that had been in the making for 30 years had led to the political climate that is has been today? Why the whole “browing” theme?

Lil' Barry Bailout

September 3rd, 2010
6:05 pm

ct, please note that I said “paychecks and welfare checks”. Obama is growing government like crazy and sending billions to states so they can continue the otherwise unsustainable growth in state governments. He’s bailing out folks who can’t pay their mortgages (which will eventually hurt those who responsibly paid their bills), created a new entitlement costing tens of billions a year, spent hundreds of billions on other supposedly temporary stimulus programs…it goes on and on. You can’t really be that blind, can you?

Lil' Barry Bailout

September 3rd, 2010
6:09 pm

Almost forgot, Obama also stole the auto companies from their owners and gave them to his union thug buddies–more paychecks dependent on taxpayer largesse…

Lil' Barry Bailout

September 3rd, 2010
6:13 pm

Let’s not forget the failing union thug pension plans that are about to get dumped on the taxpayers…

Mr Charlie

September 3rd, 2010
6:17 pm

“I’ve been diligently reading these blogs for over a year over a year now”

I am right about that conspiracy thing.

I suggest you take a deep breath, remove your hands from the keyboard, and slowly back away from the computer.

Mr Charlie

September 3rd, 2010
6:19 pm

Now Kammy, lets have some fun, I asked CT a question, at 6:05. Can you tell me the answer?

Mr Charlie

September 3rd, 2010
6:32 pm

OK, I gotta to, the answer to the question:

Why the whole browning thing?

That is what sells papers, well, if they even publish a paper anymore.

Have a nice weekend.

Kamchak

September 3rd, 2010
6:43 pm

I am right about that conspiracy thing.

I suggest you take a deep breath, remove your hands from the keyboard, and slowly back away from the computer.

C’mon Commie, I’ll admit that I’ve had a lot of fun at your expense, but I’ve never insulted your intelligence. Please show me the same consideration. For what it’s worth, Communist AJC has always been your finest hour, with every re-invention of yourself you seemed to have dumbed down. LA is/was a buffoon and beneath you.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Now Kammy, lets have some fun, I asked CT a question, at 6:05. Can you tell me the answer?

Okay

Why not point out that economic disillusionment that had been in the making for 30 years had has led to the political climate that is has been we see today?

I took the liberty of cleaning that up a bit. Is it accurate as to what you mean?

If so, then my answer is why not indeed?

Why the whole “browing” “browning” theme?

I think the clue can be found in this paragraph:

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.

It’s about “timing” and how it can be seen as cause and effect when it isn’t necessarily the case.

ctucker

September 3rd, 2010
7:10 pm

Well done, Kamchak, @6:43

Zoey

September 3rd, 2010
7:11 pm

Unemployment on the rise again and there is nothing on the front page of the AJC and Tucker wants to distract from Obama’s failures with race baiting.. Yawn

TGT

September 3rd, 2010
7:13 pm

What an asinine premise. So all of these (white) Americans are angry with the current administration because of a demographics prediction that lies 40 years in the future?! It has nothing to do with: 1.) the lousy economy 2.) crushing debt 3.) high unemployment 4.) bowing to foreign leaders 5.) apologizing for America or (most importantly) with the fact that Obama/Pelosi/Reid/etc. are pro-abortion, pro-homosexual, pro-global warming, anti-gun, anti-military, anti-Christian, big spending, big government LIBERALS???!!!

This is just another stupid and sorry attempt to try and explain away (and is more evidence for) why the Dems are going to get it handed to them come November.

The Manchurian-Kenyan Candidate

September 3rd, 2010
7:14 pm

As an Asian-American, I find the title of this article to be dismissive of Americans of Asian descent and completely racist!

The Manchurian-Kenyan Candidate

September 3rd, 2010
7:18 pm

Funny how Asians have generally assimilated much better in America, where as “the blacks and browns” as Ms. Tucker calls them have not. Just sayin….

Jethro

September 3rd, 2010
7:21 pm

One thing to be considered – I do see the sense of your words, though I must them further – is that the threats the we as society perceive are brown by nature. 9/11. The drug cartels in Latin America. Gang violence among African Americans and Hispanics – and no, I absolutely do not let whites off the hook (motorcycles, anyone?)

The fear that is raised within society is ascribed to a darker color. Justifiably? We can have tea and discuss it. What is innate, as you eloquently put it, is that this “fear” has a color, and that visual persuasion – rightly or wrongly – is inherent to our perceptions.

My parents brought to believe that people were people. I didn’t notice until I was 8 that there was something different about color (though I’m still not sure what that is). I don’t think that way today, and yet a difference exists, be that difference artificial or no. We live in a strange world, Ms. Tucker. Human beings are interesting animals.

Granite

September 3rd, 2010
7:23 pm

A good old rule in journalism is to attach “she said” or “he said” to every quotation or indirect quote. Thus one does not write “he believes in lower taxes.” You write instead “he said that he believes in lower taxes.” The reason for this is because people do lie.

The same is true in polling, and polling professionals will tell you it is increasingly a problem in polls. People rarely lied in polls in the 30’s through the 70’s. Now they do it fairly frequently.

A mental exercise will show that we already know that this is true. Say that we were to ask a large and representative polling sample; “Is the statement 1+1 = 2 correct Yes/No.”

We all know that the response is not going to be 100% “Yes.” It may not even be 95%. In fact, it may be considerably lower. Why so? Well one reason might be that people have been polled to death, and “Yes” is a boring answer to the question, so to shake things up a little, maybe I’ll just try ” No.”

In the answer to the Moslem question, we do not know that the respondents really believe that he is a Moslem. We only know that they have found a reason for saying that they believe that he is a Moslem. Their actual belief is only one of the possible reasons for saying that. Earlier in the year a survey found that some percentage (I forget what, and it was said to be a flawed poll) said that they believed that Obama was the Antichrist.

Why? Pollsters and sociologists will be looking into that for years to come. But, I suspect, that if the economy were to suddenly get hot, and unemployment was significantly reduced, Moslem and Antichrist “belief” would also fade.

Kamchak

September 3rd, 2010
7:37 pm

Aw shucks, Ms. T.

:oops:

Tommy Maddox

September 3rd, 2010
7:46 pm

I was down @ Clayton Superior Court one day – my client is black. We were waiting around to start and got to talking about politics. When I asked him about Obama he said something very poignant:

“I’m ready for a black President but I don’t think he’s the one I’m waiting for.”

Truly prophetic.

Lil' Barry Bailout

September 3rd, 2010
7:50 pm

Where’s Colin Powell when the candidate he supported needs him? In the tall grass.

jconservative

September 3rd, 2010
7:52 pm

paleo-neo-Carlinist

Thanks for the Carlin tip. I will check it out.

Lil' Barry Bailout

September 3rd, 2010
7:53 pm

The ump just made a questionable strike call on Jason Heyward. Clearly another manifestation of the backlash against the browning of America.

Tommy Maddox

September 3rd, 2010
7:54 pm

Colin’s hiding.

Wow, that's Pulitzer material

September 3rd, 2010
7:57 pm

CT, of your last 7 columns, 3 have a racial context. Well done. So much for 25%. You really need a 3 day weekend to get you stuff together. I hope you enjoy your weekend and come back with some fresh ideas. Race is so tired, try a different subject. Maybe something that we could actually debate for a change.

Lil' Barry Bailout

September 3rd, 2010
7:57 pm

Sometimes I forget that half my family is brown. But then, I’m a conservative and therefore not interested in counting folks by race.

Ragnar Danneskjöld

September 3rd, 2010
8:04 pm

I think it would be a fair allegation to say that Muslims and Latinos are the unfortunate objects of indirect anger, arising from revulsion to leftist policies generally.

Lil' Barry Bailout

September 3rd, 2010
8:06 pm

Cynthia, your examples of this so-called “backlash” are extremely weak. Of the two items you cited, your best case is the anger over illegal immigration, but it’s always been the case that during bad economic times, whatever nationality of folks is doing the immigrating catches hell. Just so happens it’s Hispanics at the moment

I suspect that the real animating factor behind your post is the fact that Obama’s popularity has dropped and you are grasping for any straw other than his own failed, disastrous, economy-wrecking policies.

Kamchak

September 3rd, 2010
8:22 pm

…but it’s always been the case that during bad economic times, whatever nationality of folks is doing the immigrating catches hell.

Funny, I’ve been in construction since the late 70’s, and I don’t recall any “anger over illegal immigration” until 2009.

Scout

September 3rd, 2010
8:47 pm

Mr. Charlie:

You are correct sir. Most of them are living in their enclaves and refusing to assimilate (which is what their Imams command them to do).

Why?

It’s easier to introduce Sharia law that way. First the “enclaves” and then expand from there. Anyone who thinks that won’t happen has forgotten Justice O’Connor and her use of foreign law in interpreting our Constitution.

Moderate Line

September 3rd, 2010
8:51 pm

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.
++++++++++++
I will take you at your word but when the headline of your article says, ”
Summer of discontent: Backlash to the browning of America” I believe a reasonable person would believe you are indicating that the you contribute the main cause to race.

Also I believe in something a little more troubling is occurring in our economy. We now have a situation were the economy can grow without producing jobs or a better living standard for working people. I believe the main reason jobs have not sprung back quickly after the last two recessions is primarily to the lack of manufacturing jobs. The service industry tends to recover later than manufacturing.

Moderate Line

September 3rd, 2010
9:00 pm

Kamchak

September 3rd, 2010
8:22 pm
…but it’s always been the case that during bad economic times, whatever nationality of folks is doing the immigrating catches hell.

Funny, I’ve been in construction since the late 70’s, and I don’t recall any “anger over illegal immigration” until 2009.
+++++++
The Davis-Bacon act which sets wage rates came into being because the North did not like black southerners from going North to work on public works projects.

kayaker 71

September 3rd, 2010
9:05 pm

CT,

Admit it, Bozo is a great disappointment to you and most of the black community. Only the ones who who blindly vote for someone because of his race are exempted but for the most part, people with education and means are sorely disappointed with this president. He had a chance to do great things. Just think of the opportunity that this guy had to begin to heal the racial divide in this country. I really don’t think that he gives a tinker’s damn about how bad racial relations are in this country. He had taken this great opportunity and blew it. To him, his government agenda is more important than racial harmony. He could have carved his name among the greats of American presidents with an effort to eliminate the hate, divisiveness and mistrust of both sides. But he didn’t. And I think you and most people like you are shaking their heads right now and bemoaning the fact that this opportunity will not present itself anytime in the near future, if ever.

ctucker

September 3rd, 2010
9:11 pm

Moderate Line@ 8:51, I expect any reasonable person to read the entire post. And good night to all.

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