An Interesting Omission from Mainstream Mediaby Norman Markowitz
Last week a got a call from an Associated Press Reporter, David Crary, doing a story on Republican and "conservative" attacks on Obama as a socialist. Crary, who was both respectful and intelligent, knew that I taught a course in the history of socialism and Communism and wanted to ask me questions. I spoke with him at some length and also sent him a few youtube clips. Today I read his story.
Let me say that it is a good story, one that quotes a variety of political scientists, various conservative and progressive commentators, and in no way misquotes me. The focus is Obama and the attacks on him as a "socialist." Crary makes good use of the long historical background
But there is one glaring omission. Crary accurately presents what I told him about the history of socialist ideas since the pre Civil War period, role of the Socialist Party in U.S. history, the attacks on the New Deal, and the postwar effects of anti-Communist cold war politics("McCarthyism") in pushng socialist politics and ideas "to the margins of politics."
He then goes on to say that "Markowitz believes that its(the use of socialism as an insult) recent revivial relates directly to the animosity toward Obama that is shared by a certain segment of Americans."
What I told him in no uncertain terms was that that "segment" consisted of those who outraged at the very existence of an African-American president, regardless of his policies, those for home racism/white supremacy makes them ready to both listen to and repeat any charge against Obama--that he is a foreigner, a secret Muslim, a socialist/communist, because there ideas have nothing to do with him and everything to do with them.
I am not here to attack Crary's article from the left because I noticed that the article is already being attacked by the right. But by omitting the deforming effects of racism/white supremacy on the way a "segment" of the American population sees the country today, one can't really understand who the Republican right is talking too--the arguments of "conservative" analyists that Obama is somehow a "collectivist" or that government regulation of business is somehow equal to socialism has lilttle to do with this "segment's" views.
But there is one interesting, very funny and perhaps saving grace that I came across on what seems to be a kook rightwing (maybe "libertarian)website on the article. It's headline is "Checkbook Socialism: Why Must you Ignorant Racist Rubes Perpetuate the Myth that Obama is a Socialist. It then goes on to say that "why do all of you Rubes think Obama is a Socialist? Well according to the AP, its because you are are racist" and then goes on to quote Bernie Sanders, me, and others on a point that none of made., but that I would have(not Rube but racist, and not only socialist, but Muslim, born outside the U.S. etc.
At least for this audience of scoffers, Crary didn't have to deal directly with the question of racism/white supremacy. In what may be a version of Freud's old concept of projecting, they are projecting onto others a view of themselves that they share, however they may cloak this in protests that they are the victims of prejudice by "the media."