Comment of the Day: “What Michelle Obama Calls Racism…Today, Anyway”

The First Lady at Target, whose skin color obviously led a shopper at Target to ignore the blouse, cart, shopping cart, purse and sunglasses and assume that she was a minimum wage target employee who just wasn't wearing her red shirt today, because whites are such racists. It's amazing she wasn't shot, when you come to think of it. No really. Amazing.

The First Lady at Target, whose skin color obviously led a white shopper at Target to ignore the blouse, cart, shopping cart, Target bags, purse and sunglasses and assume that she was a minimum wage Target employee who just wasn’t wearing her red shirt that day, because whites are such racists. It’s amazing Michelle wasn’t shot, when you come to think of it. No really. Amazing.

I suppose it should be no surprise that my bias toward “Comment of the Day” candidates tilts toward comments that save me a post. This couldn’t be more true than in the case of this edition, a comment by johnbuger2013 (and I can’t wait to see what johnbuger2014 has to add!). The effort by Michelle Obama to paint normal , harmless, benign and trusting interactions between black and white citizens as racist profiling is really horrible, and the degree that the news media (“oh, there go those tea-bagging right-wing media again, picking on the Obamas for nothing!”) is ignoring the implication of what she did is not merely horrible but terrifying. Essentially, it is a declaration that the media will accept false accounts as truth as long as it furthers the narrative that all blacks—even the Obamas!—are constant victims of thinly disguised bias and racism.

What Michelle launched into the the public discourse, and “People” irresponsibly abetted, is yet another Big Lie, like the myth that Mike Brown was gunned down while surrendering with his hands up.  Though she was dressed at the time of the alleged incident like a shopper, with a cart and a giant purse, in sunglasses and wearing a Nike cap, Michelle absurdly told the magazine that a shorter fellow shopper, who was short but white—that’s the key, white—asked her if Michelle  could take down an item from a high shelf because the shopper assumed the first Lady was “the help’–because she is black.  The story is unbelievable on its face, and more than that, it exposes Obama as an anti-white bigot. Never mind: everywhere, her offensive characterization is being treated as fact. Fact—even though it is impossible, even though shoppers ask each other, regardless of race, for assistance all the time. Knee-jerk loyalists to the cause of race-baiting, victim-mongering, eternal grievances and Team Obama—including other commenters here— have twisted logic and fairness into grotesque shapes to justify this disgraceful story. The Big Lie, as we know, works.  From the Hollywood Reporter:

“During the show’s Hot Topics section, the co-hosts addressed Barack and Michelle Obama’s recent statements that they’ve been mistaken for the help.”

But Michelle wasn’t mistaken for the help. Michelle is so paranoid, bigoted and race-obsessed that she thought she was mistaken for the help with no justification whatsoever. Never mind: her story is now Truth. From US:

“The ladies [ of “The View”] got into a heated discussion when O’Donnell, co-host Rosie Perez, and Orange Is the New Black’s Laverne Cox agreed that it’s racist when African-Americans are profiled in stores.”

But Michelle wasn’t profiled in the store (and nobody on The View’s panel of ignoramuses had te wit or integrity to point out that the whole discussion was based on a falsehood). Someone foolishly mistook her for a normal, well-adjusted, non-white-hating human being who would happily assist a stranger without assuming the worst about her. This will teach her. next time, only ask white shoppers for help: they won’t hate you for it.

As you might be able to tell, I am upset about this story, and the trend it represents, and angry with anyone, regardless of race, who won’t view it objectively and condemn it for what it is. But this is not a politics blog, but an ethics blog, and even though ethics outrages just pour out of the Obama Administration Ethics Train Wreck like the waters of Niagara, my mission is broader,  my target audience is broader still, and on a topic like this, where 90% of journalist are inclined to promote a lie, I can’t accomplish much by flogging the same issue day after day on Ethics Alarms, other than assuaging my own frustration.

I digress, however. Here is the Comment of the Day, by johnbuger2013, on the post, “What Michelle Obama Calls Racism…Today, Anyway”:

Something is fishy about the tales the First Lady is telling. I find it very hard to believe (1) that some lone shopper approached the First Lady in a Target to ask her to get a box of detergent off the shelf without being set upon by a host of Secret Service, and (2) that there was any racial or racist intent by the detergent seeker. Moreover, as I read the quote from the article, and heard her recounting to the always insightful David Letterman wherein she declared that it was a wonderful experience, I had the sense that she was annoyed that the lowly commoner had the unmitigated gall not to know that she was addressing the First Lady and failed to curtsy and avert her eyes. Got Marie Antoinette anybody? If that experience and someone tossing a set of keys to the President are the extent of their experiences with actual and/or institutional racism, then I would say they have it pretty good. Didn’t they attend Ivy League undergraduate and law schools? Isn’t her brother the basketball coach at some big named university? Didn’t the President attend the best schools in Hawaii and Indonesia? Aren’t they President and First Lady of the United States of America? That seems like a huge step in the right direction.

Or so I thought. I read the Charles Blow article where he discusses this as yet another example of white privilege and subjugation of the Black community through white majoritarian (sp? I think I just made up a word) micro-aggression. I don’t know which was more distressing: his simpering, silly op-ed or the guilt-ridden commenters agreeing with him (the ones Jack would call ‘weenies’). He writes, “But that is, in part, what racial discussions come down to: feelings. These feelings are, of course, informed by facts, experiences, conditioning and culture, but the feelings are what linger, questions of motive and malice hanging in the air like the stench of rotting meat, knotting the stomach and chilling the skin.” Therefore, he posits that the shopper’s intent is irrelevant; the only relevant factor is how the First Lady felt. Feelings govern everything. Based upon this viewpoint, when I say to a black person while attending a picnic at the local park that I love watermelon or fried chicken, I am inherently and implicitly denigrating him or her. Wow.

Well, with that as our new national standard for race relations, we have just taken about 60 years of progress and thrown it out the window. Never mind that minorities are members of all branches of local, state and federal government and all branches of state and federal police and military; are professors at elite and not-so-elite schools (from Pre-K to Post-Graduate); sit on Fortune 500 companies’ boards of directors and occupy positions as officers, directors and presidents of international companies; are lawyers (Eric Holder???), accountants, engineers, dentists, astronauts, doctors and other professionals; run local and nationwide franchises of all shapes and sizes of commerce, or are some of the highest paid athletes and entertainers. Feelings control. Yep. She felt slighted by what she told Letterman was a short lady asking her to reach up for some detergent. That is it.

For the First Lady to extrapolate racial indignity from that encounter shows the depth of her contempt for this country and the white community. Shameful. Simply shameful. She and the President have a duty to the country and not special interest groups positioned to determine the outcomes of elections. He and she have failed that duty. Miserably.

12 thoughts on “Comment of the Day: “What Michelle Obama Calls Racism…Today, Anyway”

  1. The Obamas seem to have two, equally divisive, stupid, narcissistic approaches to “leading” this country. (1) Blame Bush — for anything and all these years later. (2) Play the race card whenever and as often as you can. “Racism is rampant, kills and insults blacks at constantly and consistently,” they either say or imply, and despite being elected primarily by WHITES, the Obamas experience racism every day (or almost every day). WHAT? These people did NOT pull themselves out of the ghetto. This is pure bullshit. I find it exceedingly offensive that Michelle Obama would tell the same anecdote twice — from different perspectives — to make whatever point she’s trying to make. Lies, lies, lies, from both of them, all the time.

    • ditto. Made me angry with myself for feeling there was something off about the illustration to begin with and not recognizing what was missing — the missing truth — right at the beginning.

  2. Michelle Obama’s contempt for this country was evident very early on in Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. At a political rally in Milwaukee in February 2008, Michelle Obama stated that she was proud of the United States “for the first time in my adult life.” The Obama campaign, in a near hysterical damage control mode, spun her statement to mean that what she really meant was that this was the first time she’d been proud of politics in America. Her statement in Milwaukee raised the hairs on the back of my neck then as well as nearly everything else she’s uttered since.

    Excellent comment, John!!

  3. I’m late to this thread, but I think people might have missed Michelle’s meaning: I think the key part of her statement was, “the only person who came up to me in the store.” In other words, she was complaining because she shopped at Target and no sales person came up to her to offer help, and she attributes this lack of attention to her status as a black shopper.

    • Well, that would be elitism+paranoia at its worst. I have shopped at Target many, many times, and literally never, ever, have had any sales person, black, white or mauve, offer help. It’s a discount store, not Bloomies. MO needs to get out more—the Texaco men don’t swarm the car anymore, polishing, checking oil, etc.—it’s not racism.

      You are digging to excuse what isn’t excusable.

      • I’m excusing nothing, and agree 100% with the first paragraph of your reply.

        I’m not digging – just reading carefully. Michelle did not state in the article that the lady’s conduct was racial, so it’s an open question as to why she was offended. If there’s some other source out there that makes it explicit that the small lady’s conduct was seen as inappropriate, I’d certainly reconsider. The interpretation I present has the virtue of not being inconsistent with what she said on Letterman. Also, please note that in People the story immediately follows the story about how Barack couldn’t get picked up by taxis.

        • This is the second or third time on here and many times elsewhere that the comment has been made about the other anecdotes that Michelle mentioned. Typically in the vein of “why aren’t y’all commenting about the other stories she mentioned”.

          I assume it is meant as some sort of “aha you aren’t being consistent”, when in fact it is evidence of complete consistency. You see, the other anecdotes do hint at possible stereotyping and racism. We’ve all merely focused on the story Michelle used as an example of racism that wasn’t racist because that one is wrong.

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