An Argument for Why Obama's Election Was a Step Backward for Race Relations

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

U.S. President Barack Obama arrives to deliver his State of the Union speech on January 24, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images/Getty)

There has been a great amount of discussion in recent years about the idea of a post-racial America, particularly with the election of the nation’s first black president, Barack Obama.

The notion of an American society that is free from racism and discrimination may seem like an unrealistic dream for some people. Ron Christie, former special assistant to President George W. Bush, thinks we are not even close to the ideal. Christie is the author of a new book, “Blackwards: How Black Leadership is Returning America to the Days of Separate but Equal.”

Christie speaks with The Takeaway about why he believes President Obama and other black leaders have taken us a step backwards on race relations, with what he describes as "self-segregating" ideas.

Produced by:

Elizabeth Ross


Ron Christie

Comments [22]


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Mar. 07 2013 12:19 AM
Stephan from Queens NY

What is wrong with Ron Christie? Did he get rejected by a black woman when he was in grade school or in college, may be it was at work (like Clarence Thomas being snub by Anita Hill back in the day) and never got over it? Well Dude: “Get Over It” and try to salvage your blackness and get that chip off your shoulder and stop blaming black people especially men like president Obama, Al Sharpton & Jesse Jackson. I must say I have met at least one black man like RC in every company I have work for in the past and college I attended. After seeing RC on Bill Maher and other talk shows, I am convince this guy is an authentic “Sell Out”

Sep. 12 2012 10:33 PM

Having lived through the Civil Rights era of US history, I have to say that the rednecks use softer tones, yet they've dug in more firmly.

Kris Kobach, the republican Secretary of State (Kansas) is the go to guy visiting many states to introduce anti voter fraud to states where there has been no fraud reported for many election cycles--promotes


Yes, I will be at the polls in November, as an election official--and I WILL ABSOLUTELY NOT enforce the harsh spirit of the new and ridiculous anti-democratic laws. Thank goodness we accept but do not require photo ID here, if you produce your voter registration card.

I wish to add that the TSAification of our society is a most negative development.

Sep. 12 2012 05:43 PM
Deron from New york city

What a nonsensical arguement by someone that this system benefits. How can he speak for anyone but his peers who are hostile to the president. I guess if u opposed the president u could fabricate any arguement and thr would seem valid. Older black people that grew up in a hostile social environment where they were beaten by police and had dogs attack them in defending the right to vote view the system differently from the a novice.

Sep. 12 2012 05:30 PM
Joe F

Hey Ron Christie, I'd like to recommend that you enroll in some remedial English classes and pay particular attention when the vocabulary section comes up. Words usually have specific meanings, notwithstanding what you wish them to mean. Or perhaps your just need a hearing aid. Whatever the case, you have a real deficiency in basic English.

Sep. 12 2012 03:59 PM
Martha from Brooklyn

Ron Christie's comment that Voter ID requirements use "race neutral" language completely misses the point. After all, poll taxes were explicitly designed to target African Americans AND at the same time use race neutral language. By Mr. Christie's criteria, the practice that is today's shorthand term for voter discrimination should be allowable since it doesn't mention African Americans by name. I was dismayed that he was not challenged on this point.

Sep. 12 2012 03:59 PM
andy from manhattan

What a joke this interview is - one more reason I dislike the Takeaway. There is not enough time to really dig into questions and really question answers., then whomever the particular pundit is gets a relatively free run for their two - three minutes or so.

I am saddened that NPR has made the move to ADD style news coverage. Depth is why you get my ear. Shallowness is why I turn you off.

Sep. 12 2012 03:52 PM
John Weber from NJ

Yeah this guy is wrong. On voter ID, I am sick of people bringing up getting a prescription or getting on an airplane. You have to show ID to do these things because prior to that a horrific set of crimes were committed by people either abusing the drugs and fostering crime, or of course the horrible events of September 11th, 2001. No such crimes are committed at the polls. research showed ten cases of voter fraud across the country in the last decade. Hardly rises to the level of needing to make people how ID. Of course it affects people of color more. It is absurd to say it doesn't.

Sep. 12 2012 03:50 PM
Judith from Brooklyn

What doesn't the Republic Party get about the difference between showing an ID to get on an airplane, cash a check, etc? These are not rights, are voluntary activities and not all people do these things. Voting is a right and everyone is entitled and expected to do this.

Sep. 12 2012 03:47 PM
Stefano Bellezza

Mr Ron Christie, with all due respect: you're so wrong. Let me first say that I have no interest in the matter, as I am an Italian citizen and am here on a VISA, hence I wouldn't be able to vote in any case - nor I'm interested. So, I am about unbiased as I could get. However: there are stats about how the voter ID law is hitting minorities. There are explicit declarations from GOP politicians that this was done to reap an electoral gain, specifically in Pennsylvania. The ID is not required for a number of things, including those that you mentioned would require one. It is not mandatory, so people don't have it. And, personal experience, it is no picnic to get one: you need a SSN - some folks don't have one. You need a bank account, a lease contract or utilities in your name, one piece of evidence for each information you need to demonstrate (residence, date of birth, signature) - some folks are not in the condition to produce all three pieces of evidence, if they have one at all. When I requested my ID, because of process concatenations, it took me 2 months before I could produce a valid request. If you want a voter ID law and your reasons are sincerely non-political, 1) ideally you make ID mandatory in general, 2) you activate extraordinary procedures and resources to ensure that everybody can get their ID, 3) you plan it this year for the 2016 elections. Short of this, you are disrupting things. You sounded genuinely convinced that there is no political scheme behind how things got done. I am not. But even if this were the case, the process has been ridiculously naive and rushed at best.

Sep. 12 2012 02:57 PM

I am appalled that Todd Zwillich did not ask more insightful questions of Ron Christie but I guess that's what you expect from a friend. Not sure why, but it still astounds me that the racism of Christie and his ilk is then turned around on the very ones who have suffered from racism. That being said, it is more than racism at play in the whole voter ID issue. There are many of all races, as the other posts attest to, who have a good chance of being disenfranchised by these laws. It is eally an attempt to suppress the vote of these same people under the guise of solving a problem that really does not come close to the importance it has been given. Please try to set yourselves apart from the rest of the media. I expect more from the Take Away but am not sure that I should now.

Sep. 12 2012 02:07 PM
Ron Robinson from detroit mich.

In his desire to not be a black president and make his job even harder,he has not addressed the issue of racism. I was recently escorted by police in Howell michigan and advised not to be there. This is America?

Sep. 12 2012 01:05 PM
Mary Z from Cape Cod MA

Does the author know what the word disavow means? I don't think so!

Sep. 12 2012 12:47 PM
Larry Fisher from Brooklyn, N.Y.

Ron Christie should come back on the show with West and Smiley... I am daydreaming about the three of them hanging out in some green room and chatting... I would love to be a fly in the room

The guy sure knows how to spin... When I heard this segment it reminded me of the bad driver who did something stupid on the road and then I had to follow him till I got to see his face. It feels important to see the person who almost got you killed.
After the segment, I had to google Ron Christie to see what he looked like.

Sep. 12 2012 11:26 AM
Ann G. from Westchester County, NY

I was shocked at John Hockenbery's interview of Christie and his new book. I would expect an NPR interviewer to ask some questions and point out errors, not just allow an opportunity for a "soap box" of distorted views to stand as is. How could he not question the views that so clearly distort the facts - does he understand that some people, especially older Americans, who have always voted and now will be denied the vote cannot easily get an id because they do not have a birth certificate. This is just one example of the difficulties of requiring ids for voting. How can you possibly accept and say nothing when Obama's comment that the detainment of Prof. Gates was stupid is a racial and dividing remark. Has he ever really listened to Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson and looked at all the work they do. Christie needs a large dose of walking in the shoes of those he in effect calls racist to have a realistic understanding of the world as it as. And John Hockenberry needs more training on how to be a good interviewer; and he should be doing more preparation on the topic/book on which he is doing any interview.

Sep. 12 2012 10:08 AM
Toby Burleson from Columbia, SC

I was disappointed that Todd Zwillich did not push back when Ron Christie dismissed the idea that state issued picture voter IDs was not racially discriminatory nor was it a form of a poll tax. I live in South Carolina and there are hundreds if not thousands of older African-Americans who were delivered by a mid-wife and therefore do not have a birth certificate. It is difficult, time consuming, and expensive to try to establish the records necessary to get a state issued voter ID. People without the picture ID can cast a provisional vote, but it must be witnessed and signed by notary public. One,there are not enough notaries to man every precinct in SC; and two, notaries charge a fee and this would amount to a poll tax since it is not a fee required by everyone.

I am disturbed that journalists of Todd Zwillich's stature would allow someone like Ron Christie to make untrue statements without challenging them. This has long been true with TV and print journalists; how sad that it is now happening at NPR.

Sep. 12 2012 10:08 AM
RON from Miami

This is a tactic originated by German propaganda Minister Josep Goebbels and reincarnated by Karl Rove-i.e. alter the truth by creating a false premise- reparing discrimination by preferences is recast as discrimination.Asking the wealthy to pay a fair share-i.e. $1,000.00 dollars to Romney is equivalent to 5 cents to you and me so proportional tax rates were created to address this imbalance. Calling the civic infrastructure as bukit by entrprenuers and not the shared resposibility of all as well as turning logic on seperate but equal the same reframing of cow manure that is part and parcel of these operatives.

Sep. 12 2012 10:07 AM
Anna from Eastchester, NY

This person is entitled to his opinion. Not his own facts.
African Americans born in rural areas in Jim Crow South
may not have adequate birth records. Accurate birth records are required
to get I.D.card. It does not stretch the imagination that a counrty that once counted African American as two-thirds of a person will have disparities when in comes to proper identification of there existence. The denial to the right to vote will not result in sudden death. The abuse of cough medicine or unauthorized person on a jet liner may put lives at risk. These comparisons are not congruent. Inferiority is not inherent in African Americans it is their treatment by society that is inferior. This person Christie is supposed to be an intellectual? He needs to study the actually facts to better inform his opinions.

Sep. 12 2012 09:58 AM

Recently, for disabled housing needs I might have needed to get a copy of my birth certificate from my birth state. If I had not found it among my papers, it would have cost me $60 to get a copy from the state due to privatization of the state Vital Records.

As someone on disability, if I needed to get that or a similar document for an extra voting ID as opposed to driving license or a photo EBT card or other state government-issued photo ID, it would have been costly and for me an poll tax.

Mr. Christie simply showed his 1%ness, not his understanding of the voting suppression push by the GOP

Sep. 12 2012 09:57 AM
James from New York

Ron Christie is a funny fellow. He purposely misreads Pres. Obama's speech on race and to question the president's comment on Prof. Gates is loopy. It was stupid to arrest someone on his porch, after he proved the property was his. Keep pushing that GOP meme about Obama's "racism" Mr. Christie. You're doing a wonderful job. Maybe your next book can tell us how the president is really a Kenyan.

Sep. 12 2012 09:51 AM
Ed from Larchmont

As of now the president does seem to be pitting different groups in society against one another.

Sep. 12 2012 08:00 AM
Ed from Larchmont

In terms of abortion, the president's support of abortion has resulted in the continued killing of 30% of African American children in abortion. He hasn't helped this situation.

Sep. 12 2012 06:05 AM

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