heckled by conservative writer Neil Munro (left) of the Daily Caller. Once again, Obama has been subjected to the sort of disrespectful behavior no other president has encountered. Among the outrageous episodes: Gov. Jan Brewer (R-AZ) pointing her finger in his face; Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) shouting "You lie" during a joint presidential speech to Congress; Donald Trump (and the Tea Party's) ridiculous "birther" claims, plus Trump's questioning the president's academic credentials.
Are these merely symptoms of a decline in civility in politics and public life? While party politics is more bitterly divided than ever, in great part due to Republican extremism, it's not that simple. Racism is at the root of the disrespect shown toward this president. Sure, the opposition will always criticize the president. But the examples above go way beyond political disagreement. They're in-your-face, personal insults, a complete disregard for the office of the president and an attempt at delegitimization. It is no coincidence that these events center around our first black president.
Trump and the birthers offer the most telling example. They state that Obama is not a "real American," not "one of us," a foreigner. Even after Obama released his birth certificate, Trump continued his nonsensical accusations. Trump's questioning Obama's scholarly credentials (as if bloviating ignoramus Trump has the right to questions anyone's scholarship) is code for suggesting that Obama didn't deserve to be in Harvard–even though he graduated magna cum laude from the law school and was president of Harvard Law Review. The video below shows Obama repeatedly interrupted while making a speech–one more episode of the disgraceful treatment meted out to this president. Watch: