woody_zimmerman_118_2007In the old fable, the boy cried “wolf,” when there was no wolf, because he got entertained by how the villagers dropped everything and ran to his aid. Of course, the villagers were not amused after he repeated this several times. Finally, they stopped coming at all. Consequently, they did not respond on the day the wolf actually came. (This did not turn out well for the boy.)

The cultural “wolf” of racism terrorized our land for a long time, including an extended period when the dominant white population didn’t think racism was very remarkable. Even early progressives, like Woodrow Wilson, were racists and white supremacists. They regarded blacks, Jews and other racial groups as “inferior undesirables” that should be weeded out of the population by abortion and sterilization, under the “intellectual” cover of Eugenics. Margaret Sanger – patron saint of Planned Parenthood – was an outspoken racist and Eugenicist who championed abortion to control growth of the social “problem” blacks represented.

Gradually, however, people of conscience comprehended the wrong of racism. In common cause with victimized racial groups, some white people helped raise the alarm until most Americans awoke. The beast of racism was gradually driven from the land. True, it went kicking and screaming in some cases, but it is definitely gone.

Do racist attitudes remain in some parts of the American population? Undoubtedly. But as a matter of institutionalized policy, racism is gone. The law stands against it now. Minorities are integrated into American culture as in few places on earth.

If this is so, why are some public figures still crying “wolf?” Since Barack Obama was elected to the presidency, the practice of saying opposition to his policies is evidence of “racism” has emerged. This is what I mean by “crying wolf.”

Lately, no less a personage than former President Jimmy Carter has cried “wolf” in this way. “The Eternal One” – as some now call the 85-year-old ex-prexy, who left office nearly two generations ago (1981), but still hasn’t gotten over being defeated – believes most of the vocal opposition to Mr. Obama is occurring because “he is a black man.” Frozen in a kind of 1970s time warp, Mr. Carter recently said many Americans believe “that African-Americans are not qualified to lead this great country.” He added that this concerns him deeply.

It’s worth recalling that while racism was demeaning to a whole racial group – mainly blacks – and damaging to the moral sensibilities and comity of the nation, racism was also useful in political terms. Once the national tide began to turn against racism, a cadre of opportunists arose to ride the wave. Mr. Carter was among them – coming essentially out of nowhere to win high office in the wake of the disastrous Nixon presidency. With a big, toothy grin and aw-shucks southern charm, Mr. Carter presented himself as an honest, transparent, Christian “man of the people” who had triumphed over old-fashioned southern racism to champion a new racial morality. He brought minorities like Andrew Young into the inner circle of his administration.

All this was fine, as far as it went, but after four years of policy-disasters, Americans saw that competence was far more important than southern charm and common cause with minorities. The Carter presidency crashed, irretrievably, when Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini repaid the president’s complicity in deposing the Shah by seizing seventy American diplomatic personnel and holding them hostage for 444 days, until the very end of Mr. Carter’s term. Mr. Carter never recovered from being shown to be completely impotent during the hostage crisis.

Other individuals have built less savory, but very successful careers on racism. You can find them in the public eye at any highly publicized incident that has a whiff of racism, such as the Duke Lacrosse Team rape accusations of 2006 and the infamous Tawana Brawley rape case of 1987. (In both, the sensational charges of racist rape were shown to be complete fabrications.)

Hustlers like the Rev. Al Sharpton and the Rev. Jesse Jackson have made a nice living exploiting such racially charged incidents. Mr. Jackson also persuades corporations to “donate” to his community organizations, like Operation Push. Corporate payments in the hundreds of thousands of dollars are really “protection” money to ensure that Mr. Jackson will not publicly charge those corporations with “systemic racism,” later. Mr. Jackson’s income from what can only be called a “shakedown” racket is reputed to be $10 million a year. (One wonders what Martin Luther King, Jr., would have thought of this slimy devolution of racial “activism.”)

The Rev. Jeremiah Wright also prospered by preaching racist hatred from his pulpit at Trinity United Church of Christ, Chicago. The American public didn’t hear of him until 2008, when his association with parishioner Barack Obama came to light. The Rev. Wright evidently had preached “liberation theology,” hatred of white people, and vilification of American culture for over twenty years before his verbally violent “ministry” was exposed. (Some of his imagery cannot be reproduced in a family newspaper.) Like Mr. Carter, the Rev is trapped in a ‘60s/‘70s “bubble,” wherein the nation’s progress in race-relations is neither recognized nor appreciated.

America has now come full circle from its old institutional racism to elect a black man to the presidency for the first time.  His inner circle of advisors is full of minorities. Mr. Obama glides easily between communities of many colors and ethnicities, and he has declared himself “post-racial,” by way of reassuring the majority-white American public that he will not use racism as the lodestar of his presidency. American voters trusted him in enough numbers to elect him. Race-hustlers everywhere must have fallen into deep gloom when their raison d'être appeared to be suddenly snatched away. How could a racist society elect a black president?

While assuring the American people that he would not govern with a racial outlook, however, Mr. Obama has embarked on the most radical, far-left agenda in American history – far outstripping even Franklin Roosevelt in his soaring ambitions to “change” the American social and economic landscape. The public dozed while he pushed ahead with early big spending that will double the national debt in just a few years. Voters tend to dismiss “theoretical” matters like the national debt with a wave of the hand if they don’t seem to affect them directly.

Many Americans woke up, though, when Mr. Obama’s “hope and change” juggernaut rolled into “reform” of health care and health insurance. During his election campaign, Mr. Obama did say he favored a single-payer – i.e., government – insurance plan, but many assumed this was mere political posturing. It couldn’t possibly be true, we assured each other. Now that Mr. Obama looks serious about his Grand Plan to put 1/6th of the American economy under government control, it’s no longer just academic. Opposition has arisen.

Mr. Obama issues sublime promises with unmatched smoothness. He says that everything you like about your current insurance and care will be unchanged, that millions of previously uninsured people will be covered, that your insurance costs will go down, and that the quality of your health-care will improve. But millions of Americans – waking from their reverie of racial harmony and good will – know that all of those promises can’t possible be kept. Somebody, somewhere, is going to have to pay the bill, and they suspect it’s them.

This Great Awakening – so to say – has produced remarkable demonstrations of opposition to the proposed health-care concept from parts of the voting public who usually remain quiet. Much of this outpouring has occurred in the context of “town meetings,” where representatives and senators (and assorted other political figures) have met with groups of citizens to address their concerns about details of this gigantic, far-reaching legislation. In many cases, angry citizens have spoken to their elected representatives more directly (and more forcefully) than their excellencies have probably been spoken to in a long time – if ever.

The so-called “tea party” demonstrations in numerous cities have also become increasingly hard to ignore for the mainstream media, which has tended to brush off the town-meetings as demonstrations staged by the hirelings of Big Insurance. (“Astroturf,” Press Secretary Robert Gibbs called them – by way of implying that they are “artificial” grass roots movements.)

But the charge simply won’t wash for a September 12th Washington, DC, tea party. Thousands of ordinary Americans of many ages flocked to a huge rally on the mall. Although the Washington Post and some broadcast networks said only “tens of thousands” participated, police and others close to the event called it the largest demonstration in DC-history. Some estimates ran to a million or more.

I saw photos of a great variety of signs – most of them anti-government-health-care, anti-“czars” or anti-Obama. One sign said: “OK, joke’s over. We know socialized medicine doesn’t work.” A picture of the Obama-as-Joker caricature was featured.

I am not the first commentator to suggest that the mainstream media – some now call it the Fringe Media – is significantly out of touch with the lives and concerns of ordinary Americans. This has produced a “dumbfounded” air in Big Media over the demonstrations, town meetings and other events. News of the “Acorn Busts” – secretly shot videos of Acorn employees advising a supposed pimp and prostitute on how to evade taxes while running a brothel staffed by teen-aged, illegal-immigrant girls – has been all over the blogosphere and cable news. But in a recent interview, ABC news personality Charles Gibson admitted that he had never heard of the Acorn videos.

The same sense of mystery evidently befogs Big Media and certain political figures regarding the town meeting protests and the tea party demonstrations. They ask: What could possibly be motivating these protests? Surely, no one could object to the wonderful, soaring aims of Mr. Obama’s proposed policies – to his beautiful vision for a more perfect America. It simply must be racism that makes these people speak out.

The cry of “wolf” by Mr. Carter and others has come as a timely gift to Big Media outlets caught between needing to report on actual events and wanting desperately to protect Mr. Obama’s policy agenda. Race-hustlers have cried “wolf” to gin up support for their phony-baloney shakedown-mills. And now Big Media are crying “wolf” to diminish the protests against Mr. Obama and his policies. They expect a charge of racism to silence all opposition.

But the hand has been overplayed. Like the boy in the fable, they have cried “wolf” once too often. No one is listening any more. The “wolf” is gone. It will return only in the fevered imaginations of Big Media and desperate politicians.