No, Oprah, America isn’t racist: Column
President Obama isn’t loathed for his skin color.
Shortly before receiving the medal of freedom from President Obama, Oprah Winfrey gave an interview to the BBC in which she seemed to chalk up much of the opposition to the president to racism: “I think there’s a level of disrespect for the office that occurs … because he’s African American,” she said.
Her claim reminded me of the times when, as a child of the ’70s, my father would ask an odd question about my friends, “What is he?”
“Huh?” I’d ask.
“You know, what is he — Italian? German? Lebanese? What is he?” my father replied.
I had no idea what my friends’ ethnic origins were. It was only when I traveled with my father to the north side of Chicago where he grew up, and he pointed out which ethnic groups had lived in various parts of town, that I understood.
To be sure, I was well aware of racism. I had read Black Like Me as a third-grader. But the idea of discriminating on the basis of race simply made no sense to my young mind.
Oprah’s pronouncement produced another “huh?” moment for me, considering the fact that it was millions of Americans that gave their colorblind eyes to her show for a quarter-century, famous enough to be interviewed by the BBC.
As communism wound down in the Soviet Union, President Reagan was asked whether he still considered it an evil empire. “You are talking about another time, another era,” he replied.
Oprah is still living in that other time and era in which people separated themselves from one another primarily on the basis of race — a real time to be sure — but one that is, for the most part, not our reality today. That’s especially so at the highest levels of politics and entertainment.
Tea Party racism
Because it is more often than not Tea Party types who are accused of racial hostility toward Obama, I have a parlor game I play with my white conservative friends that tells me everything I need to know about the state of race relations in America.
The answer is quick and unanimous: They’d choose to spend their holidays with a son-in-law who looks nothing like them but shares their values rather than one who merely shares their skin color.
Oprah might want us to believe Obama faces extraordinary opposition that can largely be explained by his race, but she conveniently forgets that in the past 100 years, six presidents were shot at, one killed, another impeached and two driven from office. All were loathed by millions. Some more than others.
Our first black president is actually accorded more respect than some past presidents have received. At the height of his health care reform failure, Obama has the lowest popularity of his presidency, yet the past eight (white) presidents in a row were all less popular at their own low points.
The success of the civil rights movement and the widespread acceptance of interracial marriage has fundamentally changed America’s racial equation.
Some day soon, when we all look like actor and TV host Mario Lopez, it will simply be impossible to find people of a different skin color, let alone hate on the basis of it.
Mark Joseph is an author and producer. His next book is Rock Gets Religion: The Battle for the Soul of the Devil’s Music.
Arctic sea ice up 60 percent in 2013: dramatic deviation from predictions of an “ice-free Arctic in 2013.
Arctic sea ice up 60 percent in 2013
NASA satelite images show the changing Artic sea ice coverage. from August 2012 (left) to August 2013 (right) — a growth of about a million square miles. (NASA)
About a million more square miles of ocean are covered in ice in 2013 than in 2012, a whopping 60 percent increase — and a dramatic deviation from predictions of an “ice-free Arctic in 2013,” the Daily Mail noted.
Arctic sea ice averaged 2.35 million square miles in August 2013, as compared to the low point of 1.32 million square miles recorded on Sept. 16, 2012, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. A chart published Sept. 8 by NSIDC shows the dramatic rise this year, putting total ice cover within two standard deviations of the 30-year average.
Noting the year over year surge, one scientist even argued that “global cooling” was here.
“We are already in a cooling trend, which I think will continue for the next 15 years at least. There is no doubt the warming of the 1980s and 1990s has stopped,” Anastasios Tsonis of the University of Wisconsin told London’s Mail on Sunday.
The surge in Arctic ice is a dramatic change from last year’s record-setting lows, which fueled dire predictions of an imminent ice-free summer. A 2007 BBC report said the Arctic could be ice free in 2013 — a theory NASA still echoes today.
“[An ice-free Arctic is] definitely coming, and coming sooner than we previously expected,“ Walt Meier, a glaciologist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md, told LiveScience last month. “We’re looking at when as opposed to if.”
Noting the growth in ice, the Snow and Ice Data Center said that coverage was still well below the 30-year average. And the year over year growth in ice is “largely irrelevant,” argued The Guardian, noting that more ice is to be expected after the record low a year ago.
“We should not often expect to observe records in consecutive years. 2012 shattered the previous record low sea ice extent; hence ‘regression towards the mean’ told us that 2013 would likely have a higher minimum extent,” wrote Dana Nuccitelli.
Meanwhile, global surface temperatures have been relatively flat over the past decade and a half, according to data from the U.K.’s weather-watching Met Office.
A leaked draft of the next major climate report from the U.N. cites numerous causes to explain the slowdown in warming: greater-than-expected ash from volcanoes, a decline in heat from the sun, more heat being absorbed by the deep oceans, and so on.
Climate skeptics have spent months debating the weather pattern, some citing it as evidence that global warming itself has decelerated or even stopped.
“The absence of any significant change in the global annual average temperature over the past 16 years has become one of the most discussed topics in climate science,” wrote David Whitehouse of the Global Warming Policy Foundation in June. “It has certainly focused the debate about the relative importance of greenhouse gas forcing of the climate versus natural variability.”