Causation Versus Correlation, Race Relations in the Age of Obama
Dave, a good friend of mine and a hell of a tennis player recently shared his take on race relations in America. A Trump supporter, Dave believes that said relations have gotten progressively worse under the Obama administration, a condition he lays squarely at the feet of the President. Not surprisingly, we disagree. Racial animus did not begin with nor will end with President Obama. Still, we realize that Dave is not alone.
A 2010 ABC News/Washington Post poll found fewer Americans believe Obama has helped race relations since he took office, dropping from 58 percent to 41 percent. That confidence fell 15 percentage points among whites, but more sharply, 24 percent among blacks. http://abcnews.go.com/WN/Obama/racism-obamas-america-year/story?id=9638178.
We concede that relations are frayed. Worse, the conflicts are multiracial, poly ethnic and involves every conceivable group. There is the blacks-whites divide, conflicts between Hispanics and non Latinos, Muslims vs. Christians, gays against straights, etc.
Just yesterday Queens, NY saw the assassination of a Muslim Imam and his assistant, police officers are still being targeted and Milwaukee is aflame over yet another deadly encounter between the police and the community. Given the above as well as the frozen economy, 911, international and domestic terrorism as well as immigration issues, disenchantment over race relations has undoubtedly grown.
But, while we are cognizant of our racial divide and the sentiments of those who blame the White House, we are not persuaded that race relations have in fact worsened, notwithstanding these and other ugly, well publicized events. As bad as it may appear, we have known far worse ethnic discord. The critical difference is that said discord was not subject to the real-time, 24 hour news cycle that exist today.
Nor do we believe that the President is responsible for any deterioration, real or imagined. We are instead convinced that some mistake correlation for causation.
Causation denotes a cause and effect relationship. One item or occurrence creates or produces a separate and distinct item or occurrence. http://www.differencebetween.net/science/difference-between-causation-and-correlation/. Correlation however, produces no such result. It is simply the mere similarity or connection between two or more subjects.
For example, there is no cause and effect between the letters of the alphabet even though they are clearly related. A does not cause B, does not create C and does not make D. Similarly, cities and towns are connected by roads and highways. This does not mean however, that one city on a highway creates another. Thus, even if domestic relations have arguably worsened during the Obama Presidency, this does not mean that the President caused it to occur.
In fact, the current ethnic discomfort has nothing to do with the President. Rather, the election of the first African-American President unveiled that which has always existed, the dark racial underbelly of America. It exposed the latent bias that continues to roil and churn just below the surface of polite American society.
Consider the code words and dog whistles that have long been used to evoke racial resentment, e.g., Ronald Reagan’s welfare queens or New Gingrich’s referring to the Obama as the food stamp President. Ponder further the blatant racial animus that greeted the President the moment he ascended to the Presidency.
In October of 2008, a California GOP Woman’s group published a newsletter with an image of Obama Bucks food stamps with the Presidents head on a donkey surrounded by fried chicken, watermelon and ribs. A Florida neurosurgeon and healthcare reform opponent sent out an e-mail containing an image of the President altered to look like an African witch doctor, dressed in a lion cloth and with a bone through his nose. Underneath the picture were the words Obama Care: Coming Soon to a Clinic Near You.
Rush Limbaugh broadcast a song entitled, Barack the Magic Negro to the tune of Puff the Magic Dragon. Glen Beck claimed that the President has a deep-seated hatred of white people and the white culture, notwithstanding the fact that the President is half white. And a South Carolina businessman, once tweeted “I just heard Obama was going to impose a 40% tax on aspirin because it’s white and it works.”
The President has repeatedly been called a Mooslim and a card-carrying member of the Muslim Brotherhood, Michelle Obama has consistently been referred to as a gorilla or called Mooschelle. And social media is replete with posts and comments lamenting the Nigga occupying the white house. See for example, http://abcnews.go.com/WN/Obama/racism-obamas-america-year/story?id=9638178. And let us not forget the entire birther movement and Trump’s role therein.
This is deeper than mere racism. To a fearful and insecure white underclass, with real pocket-book issues, trepidation about unavoidable social and demographic changes and concerns about an inevitable majority-minority future, the election of the first black President was more than a watershed moment. It was a wake-up call; a dire warning of impending doom.
To escape the inescapable, this community has doggedly pursued a two-pronged strategy. First, under the guise of protecting the system, use voter suppression initiatives to keep others from voting. Second, as an example of non political correctness, turn back the social and political clock by accommodating and otherwise mainstreaming racial bias.
One of the first to employ this tactic is the former KKK leader, David Duke, who in announcing his candidacy for the US Senate, reiterated his excitement about Donald Trump and the spreading of his message by the GOP. I am overjoyed to see Donald Trump and most America embrace most of the issues I have been championing for years. The New York Times admitted that my platform became the GOP’s mainstream and propelled Republicans to the control of Congress. See for example http://nanonews.org/david-duke-yes-that-david-duke-announces-senate-bid/.
And there is Trump’s, January 14, 2016, Safe Space Memo which detailed a political strategy of courting and providing a safe space to racists and bigots by which to express their views. See http://www.thenewscommenter.com/news/trump-campaign-memo-primary-strategy-was-to-provide-safe-space-for-voters-called-bigots/600374.
We do not suggest that the President is perfect. He is not. Nor is he above political invective. Ours is a long history of personal attacks directed against the Commander-in-Chief. President Lincoln was the subject of unspeakable names and cruel caricatures.
And for many African-Americans, the Obama Presidency signifies disappointment and frustration if not outright betrayal. We unfairly blame the President for failing to do the impossible, i.e., erase centuries of pain and suffering, heal our broken families, repair our shattered communities, feed us, educate us, employ us and most importantly, save us from ourselves.
Hence, racism is not a one way street. Blacks are also capable of racial bias and of uttering the most inane comments imaginable. Witness the murderer of the five police officers in Dallas.
Still, the President can not be blamed for the Trayvon Martin, Eric Gardner, Michael Brown or Freddie Gray situations. He cannot be faulted for the resulting racial unrest in Ferguson, Baltimore, Dallas and now Milwaukee or the racial animus directed against him.
In conclusion, a reasonable argument can be made that race relations have not improved in the age of Obama. However, correlation does not equal causation. The President neither caused nor worsened this sad state of affairs. Instead, the Obama Presidency exposed the virulent racism that had always laid dormant, only to greet him the moment he entered the White House.
Leo Barron Hicks, Founder and CEO
Blackacre Policy Forum