Obama And The Forever Foreigner Stereotype

October 22nd, 2012 | Categories: Uncategorized

In a previous post The Communicated Stereotype addressed the forever foreigner stereotype by providing a first hand perspective. Considering that this is a stereotype that is usually applied to Asians, it’s interesting to witness it being applied to Barack Obama. Although he’s not Asian, Obama is an ideal victim for this stereotype in several other ways.

Barack is not exactly a common American first name. Instead American presidents have typically had names like James (6 of them), John (4), William (4), George (3), Andrew (2), and Franklin (2).

President Obama is the 44th president of the United States but the first black president.

The president was conceived out of wedlock, rather a surprising history for the president of a country that has historically viewed the sanctity of marriage as a religious sacrament so important to procreation that it denies homosexuals marriage equality for that reason alone.

Although President Obama is not Asian, he certainly can seem foreign to some based on his ‘ethnic’ sounding name, his race, and his birth history. Unfortunately, the fact remains that he is not foreign despite Donald Trump’s continued assertions to the contrary.

In today’s guest blog, Ian Reifowitz author of Obama’s America: A Transformative Vision of Our National Identity, explains how this theme of Obama’s foreignness is ever present in the Romney campaign. Check out his views here.

Perhaps in a game similar to Where’s Waldo?, you could play ‘Find the Foreigner (Comment)’ as you watch the debates.

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  1. mrradz
    November 29th, 2012 at 12:31

    It’s is incredibly profound to note Romney’s discourse, when referring to Obama, includes the word “foreign.” Reifowitz’s article in “The Huffington Post” also makes it clear that Romney uses the word particularly juxtaposing it to the word “American.” In the last part of his article, he notes that Romney more or less knows what he’s doing by using such a word… It’s difficult to refute that.

    In the 2008 primaries and election, Obama was often slighted by conservatives and other right-wingers because they speculated he was Muslim and not born in America. While no evidence suggests this is the case, people still fought. It’s interesting to note that no other presidential elect has experienced the same discrimination. Why? Because Obama is black – or mixed race, if you will. Media pundits and bigwigs took this notion and ran with it, instilling fear and ignorance into the masses. The pervasiveness of this story infiltrated television. No matter what anyone viewed, Obama’s citizenship was in question. It seems, too, that Romney intended on resurfacing those particular notions by consistently referencing him as “foreign.”

    Needless to say, the concept that a “stereotypical” white man, such as Romney, would use such a term definitely makes it more effective. His standpoint proves to be the mainstream/majority because of his skin color and his sex. While some Americans may pride themselves on “transcending” discrimination or prejudice, it is clear that most of America still has to grapple with the concept of the majority and do their best to trust the minority.

  2. December 5th, 2012 at 12:26

    Very well said. I’m glad you found my article worthwhile.

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