Friday, September 18, 2009

ANC must follow Obama's lead on rejecting claims of racism

By Michael Trapido (Richmark Sentinel)

The White House rejected claims by former President Jimmy Carter 'that much of the vitriol against Mr Obama's health and spending plans was "based on racism".'

US President Barack Obama does not believe current criticism of his policies is based on the colour of his skin, the White House has said. (BBC)

While there can be no doubting that the Obama presidency has placed the race debate at the centre of U.S political debate and that much of what he says and does will be judged as the approach of an African American to policy issues, it is imperative that he keeps the focus on the matters up for debate and not allow them to degenerate into squabbles over racism.

Carter has not helped his cause by suggesting that many believe an African-American should not be president and that the rebuke in Congress by Joe "You Lie!" Wilson was motivated by racism.

Obama, and the office of President of the United States, are immense and will draw attention like no other on Earth. Occasionally it might draw the odd shoe or two but I don't plan to beat around the bush here.

Currently Obama is dealing with inter alia a healthcare bill that runs into tens of billions, a missile shield in Europe, a deficit that could climb to 9 trillion dollars over five years, nuclear threats in Iran, Pakistan and NKorea and various other domestic and international crisis.

All of this against that backdrop of the Great American Race Debate.

He, and indeed the United States of America, cannot allow every issue to be sidetracked by a furor over whether opposing arguments constitute racism. To do so would leave him and his administration as a lame duck presidency within his first term.

The focus must be kept firmly fixed on policy issues leaving Americans to deal with issues of racism at the ballot box.

The same should be true for us here in South Africa.

The ANC must deal with true racism and kick the rest into touch.

Every time a judge is confronted by issues of corruption, an athlete has a gender test or sanctions aren't lifted in a neighbouring country the cries of racism go up.

If we allow this to persist we run the risk of sidelining genuine debates and avoiding the questions that need answering.

As the ruling party the ANC can assist by intervening in issues of national importance and explaining to all concerned that the matter is not driven by racism and that answers must focus on the question before us.

More importantly that the issue will not be allowed to die regardless of how loud people scream racism.

If we fail to do this our growth will be retarded by side issues - that in most cases are irrelevant - which leave vital questions unanswered.

0 Opinion(s):