Why does Obama channel racist TR?
By: RICHARD SINCERE | Richmond Times Dispatch
Published: December 17, 2011
Why would Barack Obama, our country's first African-American president, wish to associate himself with Theodore Roosevelt?
With great fanfare, President Obama made a speech last week in Osawatomie, Kan., the venue in 1910 where then-ex-President Roosevelt had introduced his theme of a "Square Deal" for Americans. In doing so, Obama attempted to clothe himself in Roosevelt's own reputation as a Progressive thinker and activist political leader.
But how "progressive" was Roosevelt's thinking? Is his positive reputation deserved?
The sad fact is, Theodore Roosevelt was an unabashed racist who celebrated genocide. He was a Nobel Peace Prize winner who glorified war and facilitated the Japanese conquest of Korea. He was a eugenicist who thought only fit people (as he, or the government, defined them) should be able to reproduce.
In his book, "Theodore Roosevelt and the Idea of Race," historian Thomas J. Dyer notes, for instance, that in "Roosevelt's view, the pioneers had accomplished a task of great 'race-importance' in killing off the Indians, a weaker and inferior race."
Roosevelt himself wrote, in justifying American imperialism — the conquest of the Philippines, in particular — that the "expansion of the peoples of white, or European, blood during the past four centuries which should never be lost sight of, especially by those who denounce such expansion on moral grounds. On the whole, the movement has been fraught with lasting benefit to most of the peoples already dwelling in the lands over which the expansion took place."
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Richard Sincere is a blogger and political analyst living in Charlottesville. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.