The Op-Ed piece by Stephen Henderson sparked some debate. This election is going to be a referendum on white nationalism. The responses here to Make the debate on race wide open
are indicative of what is to come. Here in Henderson Costa Rica, I ran into some farmers who did not seem to be supporters of Obama. In response to my query as to whether Obama would win Indiana Indiana, they reminded me that is a Republican state. Even so, the "spokesman" for the group has resigned himself to the fact that Obama will win then all --- 50 states!!!! RGN Indiana
Stephen Henderson, in his column last Sunday ("Racial attitudes that Obama must address"), confronted issues that are critical in America -- more critical, even, than the election of Barack Obama. Indeed, one reason I support Obama is that I believe his candidacy will open discussion of what has been hidden behind a facade of political correctness.
Unfortunately, the very use of the word "racism" has clouded the issue, because it reinforces a climate of judgment and blame, while blocking rational thought and objective analysis. That is not to say that flat-out rejection of racial hatred should never be expressed. That sort of bigotry cannot be addressed any other way. But the kind of intolerance expressed by the Free Press reader requires a different approach.
Henderson's comments, like those of Obama when he addressed the Rev. Jeremiah Wright issue, lift a veil and reveal attitudes that are not spoken in mixed company. The next step is harder to take.
But problem-solving begins by identifying the problem. And the problem is that many people do not trust others who are in a different group. To acknowledge this without judgment is not the same as condoning it. Truthful analysis requires the open mind exhibited by Henderson when he visited the Free Press reader and approached her without pejorative conclusions. Instead of accusing, he asked what was behind her attitude. The next step is not to attack her stereotype with bitter words, but to confront them with new experience.
Henderson did this as a black man visiting a white woman. Obama does the same thing when he "visits" America's streets, homes and businesses. His presence alone, however, is not enough. He must also deal directly with this attitude by initiating discussion of the hidden attitudes that are justified by faulty logic and emotional satisfaction.
I commend Henderson for his column and believe that Obama will meet the challenge.
Peter A. Pascaris
How to stifle discussion
It was amazing that Stephen Henderson, in his column last Sunday, totally dismissed the concerns of Charlene Reynolds by simply calling her a racist. This is a sure way to stifle any kind of debate about race.
Reynolds is no more a racist than Henderson is. She related facts that he could not refute. Yet to him she is a racist. How sad that when people are honest with their feelings they are automatically labeled by the left with some of the most vile names.
Reynolds is right to have concerns about Obama, as he has surrounded himself with many anti-American, anti-white bigots. Yet in his world, we aren't allowed to voice our concerns.
Obama is a liar, and most probably a bigot himself and would be the president of minorities first and the rest of the country last.
Mark J. Muylaert
Stop using labels
Dialogue has to be free and open with all people if we are truly serious about building a nonracial society.
Stephen Henderson was courageous to print excerpts from Charlene Reynolds' letter, but wrong to use them to give us his election spin. This is not the way to encourage open dialogue.
If Obama wants a true dialogue, you had better come up with some answers about why the black culture we see every day is so outlandish, and maybe then you would not call Charlene Reynolds a racist. How dare you say "Reynolds' generalizations aren't worth dignifying with a response"? You bet they are worthy of a response.
Yes, Obama is black. Yes, Obama is a skilled orator. Yes, Obama is a skilled politician with an empty resume. But I think anyone who would vote for this guy to be the chief executive of the most powerful country in the world with the credentials he has is an idiot. Would Obama be nominated if he were white? If you want me to vote for him, you had better start publishing his record, starting from his early days in Chicago. Just what has he done except talk the talk? Reynolds is correct in not wanting to vote for this pretender.
Let the dialogue begin, and stop labeling people as racists if you want to encourage a true dialogue. There is far more to this than skin color.
Not true Democrats
Stephen Henderson, in his Sunday column, did an excellent job dealing with the attitudes that exist in this country, and especially in this area. The woman he wrote about has a problem that will haunt Barack Obama throughout this election.
McBush and the Karl Roves of the Republican Party will work hard to make sure racism plays a major role in the next election. It's sad that the woman in the column thinks that people "adorned with a great deal of gold jewelry" are not the type she feels worthy of public office. If she's really against the war and what has happened to our economy, she needs to take a deep breath and vote for Obama, no matter the color of his skin.
It's sad that the Democratic Party does not really have true supporters in those who vote for individuals and not the party's goals of change. The Hillary Clinton backers who now say they will vote for McBush are not Democrats, but simply Clinton supporters, more concerned that a woman be elected than to vote for a true change.
Stephen Henderson's self-righteous column was full of its own bigotry. Has he written a piece about John McCain's need to address the fact that more than 90% of black voters cast their ballots for Obama? Apparently, in Henderson's mind, that is OK. What is the difference with this woman not voting for Obama because he is black and blacks who will vote for him because he is black?
Henderson cannot accept that the woman in question has had negative experiences with blacks. It is amazing how many people I have known over the years whose experiences have left them with similar opinions.
Henderson stated that her "generalizations are not worth dignifying with a response." Would he like to dignify the reactions -- the cheering -- of black churchgoers at Trinity United when they listened to pastors like Jeremiah Wright or Michael Pfleger go into racist rants? Or dignify the many blacks I have heard who had no problem with what goes on in that church?
R. Allen Pratt