After President Obama was heckled during his speech on counterterrorism Thursday, some people wondered how many times these types of interruptions have happened to the POTUS. The Huffington Post's Earl Ofari Hutchinson writes that the trend began with black protestors but has carried on thanks to the heightened American fringe culture, like the Tea Party, that Obama's presidency has attracted.
It's true that George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan were at times heckled, and in Bush's case a shoe was tossed at him. But with Obama the pattern and sheer number of times he's been heckled top anything any former president has received. Counting Benjamin's eruption, the president has been heckled at least 10 times. The topper was the infamous "you lie" rant from Georgia Congressman Joe Wilson during his 2009 State of the Union address.This pattern of public vilification and insult of Obama during his speeches was set almost from the start of his White House tenure when a small knot of black protesters verbally assailed the president at a Florida stop in 2008 for allegedly not doing enough about predatory lending.
The pattern firmly took hold from there, and it virtually became open season to disrupt an Obama speech anywhere and at any time. The tea party didn't help matters with its incessant marches and rallies that routinely featured the vilest, demeaning and borderline racist depictions of Obama. The relentless public heckling of Obama also stems from the even more insidious pattern of pure hate and vilification that spews forth against Obama from a parade of websites, bloggers, talk show jocks and more than a few GOP officials with assorted borderline racist digs and taunts. In 2011, Baylor University researchers tracked more than 20 Facebook page groups and users and found them filled with racist venom aimed at Obama. There may be even more of them today.
Read Earl Ofari Hutchinson's entire piece at the Huffington Post.
The Root aims to foster and advance conversations about issues relevant to the black Diaspora by presenting a variety of opinions from all perspectives, whether or not those opinions are shared by our editorial staff.