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Friday, October 9, 2009

Teach, your parents well...

Great old song by CSNY. If you are too young to get the reference, sorry you missed some of the greatest music ever made. Actually, the title line is Teach, your children well. But the point of the song is otherwise.

The lesson of the song rings true today as the conservative world spins on a new axis of Obama hating and does contortions to not say what they must really want to say. I don't know what that is, but the tongue twisting of "what was the committee thinking" and "Obama should refuse the award" is double speak for we really don't like Obama. These people wouldn't know how to speak truth to power if they were given a script and coached with "line!"

I thought the Prez was gracious in his acceptance and unifying when he put the Prize into a "call to action." That's our community organizer! Just makes my heart sing. But I get it that others are not willing to heed that call. But let the rest of us have a chance to do so. That's what the right can't stand - is that for every step taken by Obama, they see their forward progress eroding. Despite our best efforts to play winners and losers with elections, politics is NOT a zero sum game. This notion that if I give in to you it hurts me (like the my marriage is threatened if gay couples are allowed to marry) is so closeminded that there will never be a solution. It is like a Jihad...I keep fighting you until I beat you or I die trying. This is not what politics is supposed to be and every day we take more steps down that slippery slope. Have you noticed the rhetoric is bolder in terms of calling out the President on things that aren't even real - he's a communist, he's a socialist. These are not just pejorative slanders. Many's the time I called Bush a moron. These comments are meant to incite fear and resistance to a mythical enemy. I guess if the cold war is over, we should turn on our President? How did we get here? Go read the NYTimes. There have been so many good columns about this topic, I can't even keep up with it here.

I want to call your attention to a writer that I read regularly. Her blog can be found here and it is called "My World." It is artistic, it is savy, it is plainly spoken - in the vernacular of a young urban person. What I like most is that it is HONEST. There is no attempt to bring fear or to threaten. There is no hiding behind a bunch of b.s. It speaks honestly of what the world is like as seen through her eyes. There are others that write better than this, but it doesn't matter, because this young woman is from Camden. She's not hiding out in some suburban bunker lashing out at a world that does not fit her wishes. She's writing about the real life she leads and how it affects her. Of all the people in this country, she has the right to call politics a zero-sum game, and she doesn't. That's truth to power.

Teach, your parents well....

Friday, October 2, 2009

Obama haters

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.