Monday, December 19, 2011

Black Lie, White Hope

The GOP continues its quest for the Great White Hope. What about Herman Cain, you remind me. He was a straw dog. Charismatic? How about that wealthy Mormon, Mitt? Self-righteous Christian? Here’s Perry. How about the man that suggested a cure for obesity? No-more-food-stamps Santorum. Militant conservative? How about Michele “abolish minimum wage” Bachmann? Short-term memory? Here’s Newt “I took the marriage pledge” Gingrich. Best GOP candidate since GW. He cavalierly suggested that poor children ought to work as janitors in their schools.
In many ways it doesn’t matter who the GOP selects as their candidate. They want to ensure the wealthy keep their wealth and grow wealthier. They want to ensure President Obama doesn’t get re-elected. Some call him the worst president in the history of our country.
President Obama saved us from an economic depression. He defeated Osama Bin Laden. He ended the ten-year war in Iraq. He has worked diligently to preserve the middle class. What makes him the worst president in the history of our country? It’s the color of his skin. No one wants to articulate it quite that way. The moral compass of the collective society would balk at such blatant honesty. Most people would rather deny their racist assessment and pin their dislike on anything else that might appear rational. But their arguments aren’t rational. They are lies: lies that protect the liar from having to face his own prejudices; lies that smartly cover up what no one wants to say aloud; lies that make it seem as if we live in a post-racial society; lies that make everyone who harbors racist feelings feel smug and righteous.
I can’t just point fingers at the GOP or Christian conservatives who believe God is on their side and are bonded by hate and moral superiority. The 99%, a predominately white organization, is also bashing our president. I wouldn’t mind, except that their demands are unrealistic. The president can’t force change. If one has not personally experienced the tremendous backlash against everything the President is trying to push through, one cannot imagine the difficulty he is up against. To the 99% who are warming the benches while others are out on the playing field, consider a future in politics if you want to initiate change and learn to work within a system that is not only immovable but also difficult to negotiate. Then you’ll have earned your right to complain.
In the meantime I won’t encourage you to look at a third party solution. You’ll just waste precious votes needed to ensure that the GOP doesn’t get elected to the highest office in the land and take us all down by blurring the lines between church and state, destroying the middle class, and bolstering the power and wealth of the 1%.
We will live in a world where religious zealots create the law of the land based on the Old Testament. Apparently they missed the Good News. In this new world homosexuals are criminals; fetuses have more rights than children; women are submissive; poor people die for lack of basic necessities; whites are armed and dangerous to anyone that threatens their way of life; minorities are assigned non-American status; and slavery is re-instituted. The vision is extreme, yes, but possible given the extreme rhetoric of Tea Partiers and Christian conservatives.
Have you noticed that President Obama’s enemies have not found even one skeleton in his closet? They tried with the birther conspiracy. They tried to tie him to unsavory characters and Illinois political corruption. They tried to deny his Christianity, as if not being Christian would disqualify him from office. They have accused him of the character flaw of humanitarianism, if one can call that a flaw. I don’t. The only truth that no one wants to speak is that his African heritage is a flaw in the eyes of many.
We need President Obama for four more years. We need to fight the good fight right beside him.
(Excerpt from essay Keep Hope Alive: Post-Racialism in America)
Everyone in the bleachers kept craning their necks around to see behind us. We all knew Senator Obama would enter the square from the rear of the bleachers. The number of men in black suits with earphones made it obvious.
Suddenly the men in suits gathered together, and my sight rested on Senator Obama in the middle of them: tall, handsome, a spring in his step despite the grueling schedule he kept. He wore a pressed, bright-white shirt, the sleeves casually rolled up, and a blue, white and silver tie. As he stepped up to the podium amidst the cheers, he appeared confident, smart, and presidential.
“Yes we can! Yes we can!” the crowd chanted. I wanted to believe them.
“Our destiny is not written for us, it is written by us,” Obama told the crowd. We cheered louder.
“We can rewrite our destiny,” I thought. “We can change our destiny in my lifetime.”
“Yes we can! Yes we can!”
Obama stopped in the middle of his speech and asked for people to attend to a woman who was weak from the heat and press of the crowd. Volunteers ripped into plastic flats filled with bottled water and started passing them back through the crowd. From our perch on the bleachers, the thousands of water bottles being handed high above heads from black hand to white hand to brown hand, looked like bubbles floating over the crowd.
Ronald assisted citizens and saved their lives and property for twenty-five years as a firefighter, but sometimes they did not want his help. One man said he would not let Ronald resuscitate his dying wife. Another citizen, his house on fire, said he did not want black people in his house. Disregarding Ronald’s lieutenant stripes and his command over the scene, another citizen called him a nigger. Could hatred be that strong? Yes it can.
Obama finished his speech, and he walked around the circle of people closest to the podium, shaking their hands, speaking to them. I watched him, and I watched them, some of them wiping tears away after he had moved on to the next person. I knew he would exit beside the bleachers just as he had entered. Some people were already standing and headed off the other side of the bleachers, maybe trying to beat the dispersing crowd. I went in the opposite direction and crouched at the edge of the bleachers three or four people back. I could see Obama nearing us. I stuck my hand through the crowd of legs, and he grabbed it and firmly shook it. His hand was dry and warm.
I stood from the crouched position I had taken to reach him and turned around. I was crying.
“You did it,” Cara said. “You shook his hand.”
“Yes, I did.”

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