Friday, October 2, 2009
Don't be a hater.
Apparently the message has gone right past some people. That would be the people that are Obama haters. Check out this pic at Tony's Kansas City . Not since the 1960s when the South was littered with "Impeach Earl Warren" billboards, have we seen such political vitriol on the big boards. (If you don't know who Earl Warren is, google him).
I also read a good post at Stuff White People Do discussing why people call Obama "arrogant."
And by now you have heard about the "Should Obama Be Killed" quiz that made an appearance on Facebook.
The haters are merely a reflection of what is seen every day at the personal level all across the country. People who think electing Obama President is an indication of a post-racial society are mistaken. White America may be more tolerant and the willingness to vote for a black President would not have happened 50 or 60 years ago. But for some reason, the racism that often remains isolated at the local level has now moved to the national stage. Perhaps it is the incivility of Congress that is emboldening haters. Or maybe loud haters are emboldening Congressional bad behavior. Maybe FOX news is giving voice to the voiceless - haters that could only reach a local audience, now being celebrated on this broadcast network. I'm not so naive to think that racism and priviledge will ever be gone, but I am hoping we have made strides. One indication of progress would be that people stand up to this type of hatred.
Some readers will say that the billboard has NOTHING TO DO WITH RACE. They will insist that the billboard is merely use of free speech by those who disagree with the President's agenda. To that I say, really? Are you so resistant to acknowledging that racism exists that you refuse to see what is obvious? I'm not saying that anyone who disagrees with Obama is a racist, because that would be ridiculous. I don't agree with Obama on everything. But when you resort to a billboard with a hammer and sycle and you proclaim "live free or die" you have to think about the racial implications.
I support healthy political debate and encourage viewpoints to be vigorously discussed, challenged, and argued. But I believe that hate, as expressed in this billboard, is connected to racism. I realize that the right also had it out for President Clinton. But you didn't see people bringing guns to Clinton speeches or calling him a commie or throwing around the "live free or die" rhetoric. There is a qualitative difference with the discord surrounding President Obama. Read Tom Friedman's column in the NYTimes. Here's the money quote: "We can’t change this overnight, but what we can change, and must change, is people crossing the line between criticizing the president and tacitly encouraging the unthinkable and the unforgivable."
I can only hope that people take this on and challenge the wingnuts, haters, and extremists. Vigorous debate - don't just ignore it.