WaPo's Vedantam: Racism Behind Effects of Rev. Wright

There they go again. Once more, a liberal print journalist has seen racism behind conservative concerns about Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.). Yesterday, NewsBusters noted a blog post by a Chicago Tribune journalist which claims that Obama’s “supposed patriotism deficit” is because white Americans view African Americans in general as less patriotic. In a May 5 Washington Post article appearing on page A2, “Department of Human Behavior” writer Shankar Vedantam asserted that it is not Revered Jeremiah Wright’s incendiary comments that have damaged Obama, it is his race, sex and public style. If Wright were a white female who wrote her outlandish ideas in a scholarly journal, Vedantam thinks the effects would not be the same. As opposed to Wright’s desire for God to damn America and his notion that America brought the September 11 terrorist attacks on itself, Vedantam wrote that “Wright has damaged the biracial Obama because, in his public persona -- as much as in his views -- he activates unconscious fears and racial stereotypes that many voters have about angry black men.” Quoting Arizona State University social psychologist Steven Neuberg, Vedantam wrote, "What this Wright guy has done is tagged Obama as a black guy. He is more aggressive and attacking, and that engages in people's minds and that makes race salient." Vedantam claimed that talking up the controversy allows Obama’s opponents to “hook into voters' hidden fears and racial attitudes without ever saying a word about the radioactive subject of race.”