It’s O Time
The significance of this Tuesday’s inauguration cannot be overstated. It seems like just about everyone has some level of gushing excitement leading into this big event. In truth, I believe this is the most historic inauguration since 1861. However, there has been so much euphoric build up, I fear there is only one direction this administration can go. No one can live up to the expectations placed upon this man. When Sean Hannity, labelled Barack Obama “The Messiah” during the primaries I chuckled, true he was promising political salvation, but I didn’t expect people really looked to him as a savior. Flash-forward to today, clearly now the majority of the Americans see him as just that, THE Messiah.
After his victory world reaction bordered on the ridiculous. I heard one woman in the Chicago crowd interviewed live on NBC. She was breathless as she proclaimed that with Obama as President, “I won’t have to worry about putting gas in my car. I won’t have to worry about paying my mortgage.” While she was not alone, she was the most outrageous.
I’m not writing this to rain on Obama’s parade. I just want the country to calm down and realize this is NOT God we elected. Obama is a man. He seems to be an intelligent man but nevertheless a man. The problem is human nature. My alter ego works with celebrities. Over my 30 years around actors, musicians, televangelists, and politicians I have observed the dangers of ego. I have seen humble people self-destruct after buying into the praise heaped upon them. As expectations have been elevated into the stratosphere a fast descent could be frightful. I fear one misstep or failure and the country could be plunged into the depths of despair and possibly depression. But for now we can all lay back and enjoy the massive national orgasm that will climax on Tuesday.
In addition to the excitement and obsession that is Obama, there are concerns for his safety. The day after the election I decided to search the white supremacists websites and see how they were thrashing about. The rhetoric was more muted than expected and I moved on. Yesterday as I was reading my news I stumbled across this story on CNN.com, “White supremacists watched in lead up to Obama administration.” The following jumped out at me, “interest in racist ideology was so high right after the election that computer servers for two White supremacist Web sites crashed, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups. But the violence and interest soon subsided.” The implication seems to be that all those white racist were phoning home as it were, afterall, the press seems convinced most whites are racists. I don’t believe that people were interested in racism at all. I think in the days following the election everyone in the press, political bloggers, and political junkies were all searching the supremacists websites looking for reactions, just like I did. (Basically, the press crashed the white supremacist websites.)
Concerns for Obama’s safety should really hit us all. All it takes is one nutjob to alter the coarse of history. It is in our interest as conservatives that no harm come to this man. Republicans should take care not to demonize Obama in the same way they did Clinton. Because if they do and some lone wolf acts out against the President it will be the Republicans who bare the blame and suffer the backlash. The last thing Republicans need now is a Democratic martyr, deserved or not the consequences will last decades. I am not pleading for kid-gloves but just keep the personal attacks out of the equation. (If only anyone listened to me.)
The one fact that has bemused me since my youth has been the American method of defining race. Obama has really brought this into the forefront of my thinking. Americans hold that a person is “African-American” if they have any African ancestors. But why is this? I believe if people knew why, they would not be so quick to label every multiracial person as African-American. (As a student of American history and well-read in this topic you will find less documentation as compared to my usual essays but you can verify these facts with research.)
American racism is deeply rooted in the American slave trade. Skipping the origins of the slave-trade, let’s begin with the obvious, American slaves in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were overwhelmingly of African descent. They were easily identified by the color of their skin. To justify their forced labor and harsh treatment, whites of European descent, made the assumption that Africans were intellectually inferior and somehow less human. In fact, being denied education and prohibited from any intellectual pursuits, a typical encounter with an African-American slave would have seemed to support that assumption. Frederick Douglass the intelligent educated abolitionist and escaped slave, must have seriously challenged conventional thinking in the 1850s and beyond.
Humans being sexual creatures and men even more so, meant that probably it was not long before a slaveholder decided to engage one of his slaves in forced sex. Certainly the question of the social status and race of such hybrid offspring must have arisen early in the American colonies. It was decided that any individual “contaminated” with African blood would by necessity be inferior, having acquired those negative attributes as evidenced by the pigment of their skin. The labeling of people as “black” or “negro” who had only minor African heritage was done so to oppress and discriminate against them. Illinois had a law on the books, well into the Civil War, barring anyone with 1/4 African heritage from permanent residence in the state.
So here we sit in the dawn of the 21st century, anxiously waiting the inauguration of the first African-American President. The application of the label itself harkens back to our dark racist history, – the same history we are desperately seeking to escape. While I may differ with Obama politically, I cheer the sheer fact we were able to elect him. Whatever the racial label we put on him, he represents a multiracial future no white or black supremacist can stop. The future will give us Presidents of every possible racial combination and I hope to live long enough to see the day we stop applying racial labels to them and instead focus on what is important, the issues.