Monday, November 16, 2009

obama and the wisdom, or otherwise, of crowds

I'm interested in this piece by Michael Tomasky in today's Guardian, which looks into the incredible amount of opposition which Barack Obama faces in the US, and examines whether - or more accurately to what extent - the hostility he faces is rooted in racial prejudice.

It's a good article not only because Tomasky is even-handed and cautious about making accusations of racism (unlike, say, Glenn Beck and Rupert Murdoch) but also, mainly, because he is perceptive about the nature of crowds. He acknowledges that, person to person, many of Obama's most steadfast critics may not be racist. But having described the opposition he faces, Tomasky notes:

"This is the Obama-hating crowd. It's deeply conservative, and it's about 98% white. And the thing about crowds is that they develop a personality of their own that is not merely the sum of individual parts. A crowd is an organism that grows in its own way and tends to be led and excited by its extremes. It can mutate into being racist without many or even most of the individuals in it being so."
Good article - you can read the rest here.

3 comments:

Dan - Who knows everything said...

I'm not sure he's THAT even- handed. Is'nt he the editor of Guardian USA? He should've spotted that not all Republicans are that Conservative.

Interesting on crowd mentality though. And also I would just like to mention to any American reading that any ten fold hatred of Obama within the US (though there is no real evidence for this) is still more than made up for by 10 fold levels of good feelings towards Obama outside the US.. until he messes something up or disapoints and then it will just resort back to Clinton levels of OKish..

DrBlur said...

To Dan, regarding the "goodwill" toward the USA from Obama...that's because you lot don't have to live with the horrific consequences of his (and his Congress') policies, which have already deepened and prolonged our recession...it's getting bad over here and going to get much worse before it gets better...

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