Conservatives in the United States have for years now questioned the validity, abilities and talents of Barack Obama. Some complained that he wasn’t an American citizen and demanded to see his birth certificate. When Obama acquiesced and showed them that he was in fact a citizen, people like Donald Trump then argued that Obama was probably a bad student.
Indictments like that have followed the president throughout his political career, and, likely, his entire life. But few are as outwardly racially charged as a new one from Republican Sen. Tom Coburn.
On a tour through Oklahoma last week, the state Coburn represents, a constituent at a town hall event asked the senator if he believes President Obama wants to destroy the United States. Coburn’s answer, in its entirety, was:
“No, I don’t … His intent isn’t to destroy. It’s to create dependency because it worked so well for him. I don’t say that critically. Look at people for what they are. Don’t assume ulterior motives. I don’t think he doesn’t love our country. I think he does.
“As an African-American male, coming through the progress of everything he experienced, he got tremendous benefit through a lot of these programs. So he believes in them. I just don’t believe they work overall and in the long run they don’t help our country. But he doesn’t know that because his life experience is something different. So it’s very important not to get mad at the man. And I understand, his philosophy — there’s nothing wrong with his philosophy other than it’s goofy and wrong [laughter] — but that doesn’t make him a bad person.”
I don’t think anybody’s willing to say that Coburn is an outright racist, and it’s good that he talked down the constituent by noting, rightly, that Obama is a smart man who’s not out to ruin America. But it’s important to note, also, that Coburn is wrong about Obama.
A person of color or not, Obama was raised by his middle-class white mother and grandparents and sent to some of the finest private schools in the country before heading off to the Ivy League. This idea that just because his skin is dark means that Obama has developed a real taste for “government dependency” is ridiculous.
Though many people like to think that welfare got the president to where he is, that’s simply not true, and to argue as much shows prejudice and is inaccurate. What’s more, a person needn’t have profited off of benefit programs in order to support benefit programs. Sometimes it’s just the right thing to do.
(Photo: Oklahoma State Government)