Monday, July 14, 2008

It's a sad, sad day in American politics.

Not only because former White House press secretary Tony Snow has passed away. Not only because there have been 4,118 confirmed deaths as a result of the War in Iraq. I'm sad because even as far as America has come, some of us still feel a need use hate speech and propaganda when a candidate of color is doing so well in a political run. Because I am 26, I've had the privilege of voting in the past two presidential elections. Because of the outcome of both of those pseudo-elections, it left me feeling a bit disenchanted with the political process of this country. Since Sen. Barack Obama burst onto the national political scene, he's brought with him the rebirth of a lot of people's faith and hope, myself included, in America's political process. To me, it's only icing on the cake that Obama is a black man. I say icing because this is a historic moment that is long overdue. It's 2008, John Mercer Langston , the first black man elected to public office, was elected in 1855, the Emancipation Proclamation freed the slaves on the first day of 1863. The Voting Rights Act that guarantees all citizens the right to vote was passed in 1965. Yet, after all that, Americans and the American press feel a need to play, not just the race card, but the whole deck. Last night when I went to bed, I went with the intentions of writing about Oliver Stone's upcoming release, "W," which is a biopic about the current President Bush. I was going to compare pictures of the actual people and the real folks and tell some of my choices for the cast. But, this morning I woke up, checked CNN and got my eyes full of racially fueled, insensitive, offensive and downright tasteless crap. The first thing I saw was this cover of the New Yorker. That is supposed to be Obama dressed in what has been described as "Muslim clothes" giving his wife Michelle a fist bump while she is dressed in combat boots, Army fatigues, carrying an AK-47 and sporting an Angela Davis-sized afro. If you look closely in the background, you'll see a picture of Osama bin Laden hanging on the wall and the American flag is burning in the fireplace. In a statement released to the Associated Press, the magazine states that the artist is the artist's way of satirizing "the use of scare tactics and misinformation in the presidential election to derail Barack Obama's campaign." Satire my ashy knee caps! That is for the lack of a better term, crap. Every since the Obama campaign has started, folks have been trying to derail it by playing to the fears of insecurities that so many Republicans and racist Americans have about black people in general. Acts like this are simply the politics of fear being put to practice. Before 9/11, Americans were oblivious and apathetic to world issues and we rarely heard about any countries wanting to harm us. Now that we have been attacked, the Republicans have been able to maintain the power that they have because voters know that Dems and Independents will more often than not try to be diplomatic and talk us through this thing instead of running off to foreign countries with "guns a-blazing." So instead of simply saying they don't agree with Obama's politics, because he is a black man with the name Barack Hussein Obama, he has to be a terrorist. Let's discuss this logically, OK? First off, the man is named after his father. He can't help that. If he would have changed his name, he'd be denying his father and his family's legacy. Plus, how the freak was his mom to know that his middle name would be the surname of one of the world's most infamous dictators? Secondly, why is the afro the international symbol for 'the angry black woman?' I never understood that. It's hair, that's all. I wear an afro and you would be surprised how much it scares people. My hair is a lot fuller and thicker than it appears because I don't want to scare anybody. For the last time, it is just hair! Michelle Obama doesn't wear her hair in an afro but that is how she's been depicted because I guess that makes her seem more angry. I say it's all bull. The folks at the New Yorker obviously believe that Americans are too stupid to recognize racist propaganda when we see it. I don't see them drawing Sen. John McCain on a walker, with a blanket draped over his shoulders carrying a bottle of Geritol and then claiming that it isn't ageism. To add insult to injury, host of the McLaughlin Group, John McLaughlin called Obama an "Oreo" during the Sunday broadcast of his show. According a report on CNN, McLaughlin said Obama "fits the stereotype blacks once labeled as an Oreo — a black on the outside, a white on the inside." "Does it frost Jackson, Jesse Jackson, that…an Oreo should be the beneficiary of the long civil rights struggle which Jesse Jackson spent his lifetime fighting for?" McLaughlin asked his panelists. Boy, some folks are gettin' more and more bold, aren't they? Granted, I think that some of us are a little too sensitive about some of the names and some of the things being said about black people but when you think about it, we're the only folks who hear racial epithets on a regular basis in most cases by people who look like us. You don't hear Asians referring to each other as Chinks and Coolies, at least not out in public. You don't hear Jewish people referring to each other as mocks and kikes. Honestly, I think we should ignore the speech being spewed about Obama and all hate speech in general. And maybe, just maybe, it'll all go away. What do you think?


Michelle O'Neil said...

I was watching the coverage of this last night and I could not help thinking about what the American Muslim's are thinking and feeling right now. The newscasters acting like Obama being "accused" of being a Muslim is like equating him with being something heinous like a serial killer or child abuser or something.

Do they really think people are so stupid to think every Muslim is a terrorist? ARE people really that stupid?

Do we assume all Catholics are pedophiles? WTF?

Of course as a white woman I am niave about the day to day racism that black people experience, but this sure shines a big bright light on it.

It's shameful.

Smarty Jones said...

I know, imagine being told that you're wrong because of what your faith is. I just wonder how all of these folks would feel if we were constantly being told that Christianity is wrong and we are unjustly branded with the term 'radical.'
Sadly, I think a lot of people are that close-minded. I won't say stupid, I'll say close-minded. I know folks who avoid people of Middle Eastern decent at all cost and I remind them, most of them African American, that we have simply turned the tables and now those folks are THE minority to hate.
Michelle, don't feel bad that you're naive about racism, most folks are. A lot of people don't realize or don't care to think about these things. I knew as soon as Obama proved himself to be a viable candidate that these back woods racists were going to start showing themselves again.
While commenting on an earlier post I wrote that the south has a rich history full of the worst kind of racism. What I should have said is this country was founded on the worst kinds of racism.
Now those folks, and there are still some left, who didn't get over the fact that the Confederates LOST the Civil War are coming out from their bunkers and board rooms to protect the last thing they thought they had - the office of the presidency.
They're coming out now because they think the 'minority' candidate will be looking out for the 'minority' constitutents only and that's not the case at all.
Anytime a president does anything to help minorities and poor people, the right wing folks try to discredit his presidential legacy. Look at what happened to JFK, Jimmy Carter and they even impeached Bill Clinton.
Granted, Carter did have some pretty major events happen during his tenure like the fuel shortage and the Iranian take over of the American embassy, but he still did a lot of good.
Do you think all the good that those men did that helped some of the nations minorities get ahead stopped them from being ridiculed?
No, it added to it.
I said all this to say that anytime there is potential for progress, those on the right are going to try to derail it.

Kim Stagliano said...

Here in NY it's biting satire. Outside of the confines of this small chunk of real estate it just bites.

It makes me feel terrible for my Muslim friends who are portrayed as "the wrong religion." It fuels the fires of ignorance among those who fear Obama "isn't really a Christian! Oh no!" HE IS.

I think it just fell F-L-A-T. And in an election year where so much is at stake, it was a touch and go editorially choice to run it. It should have gone.

That said, Obama is still doing well.


TravelDiva said...

I'm tired of the racist stuff. I feel like ever since he became a viable candidate, the Klan hoods have come out from everywhere.

I can't speak to the content, but I didn't think the exaggerations were funny in a haha satire way. I could almost see poking fun of things or the crazy things people believe about Obama, but the afro--just took it too far.

I too get upset about the muslim thing. I'm a Christian, but my man is Muslim and every day in the news it's like being a Muslim is tantamount to calling someone a terrorist. It's so ridiculous to me.

Jess said...

I agree that this kind of satire is totally excessive. It seems to buy right into the behavior of those who are doing it more seriously (as clueless as they are). Nobody needs to further any of this b*llsh*t.

I'm [probably] a naive white woman too, but I think that what Obama said in his "race" speech in March was probably right; something about how his candidacy would bring a lot of race stuff to the surface, and maybe it's a good thing even if it means a lot of ugly stuff comes to light also. Because as a nation, we do have a lot of baggage with the race issue and we might as well work through it. If only we could do it without being idiotic and offensive...