As President Obama continues to calmly navigate through unchartered territories, I continue to be amazed. Although his campaign oozed with hope,
promise, and change, it was hard for me to envision an America that would embrace such a drastic overhaul of the status quo. In the depths of my soul I
hoped that Americans would coalesce around ideas of freedom, equality, and diplomacy. However, this nation’s troubled past forced my cynicism to outweigh my optimism. For every time I saw a glimmer of Gandhi, I saw Adolph Hitler lurking in the background trying to undermine any remnant of social equality.Every time I heard the eloquent words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I heard the echoes of Governor George Wallace’s 1963 Inaugural address.
When President Obama signed an executive order suspending all ongoing
proceedings of the Guantanamo Military Commission and ordered the detention
facility to be shut down, many warmongers on the right bemoaned that we were
conceding to “the terrorists”. I saw this as a victory for humanity. Finally, the
United States could show the international community that we would abide by
the Geneva Conventions and not haughtily breach international contracts. When
he lifted President George W. Bush’s ban on embryonic stem cell research,
dissidents complained that President Obama had no regard for life. I viewed it as a bold step in the direction of saving lives and curing illnesses.
With all the squawking from his opponents, I was not surprised by the uproar over health care reform. What surprised me however, was the thuggish reaction of the health care reform opponents. Many Democratic Congressmen and Senators received threats via telephone and email after the passage of the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act. In response to the vitriol from the right concerning health care reform Congressman Charlies Rangel said:
“I was involved in the civil rights marches in the ’60s. And I have been badgered, cursed at and spat at by groups in the South and I want you to know and your viewing audience to know that the group that were in Washington fighting against the health bill and fighting against the President, looked just like and sounded just like those groups that attacked the civil rights movement in the South.”
The mere fact that Charles Rangel, a seasoned civil rights activist who felt the bitter pains of Jim Crow and segregation saw stark similarities between health care reform dissidents and White segregationists is troubling. I continue to believe that the pushback from these fringe, right-wing groups is about more than policy. I think what lies beneath all of the rhetoric is flat-out, deep-seated racism. I don’t call it that because they oppose the President’s plan, I call it that because their illogical and misguided talking-points are filled with subliminal messages of hate.
There should be no surprise that in this age of hate, extremism has reached an all-time high. In fact, a study conducted by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) shows that anti-immigrant vigilante groups and “patriot groups” have drastically increased over the past year. In an August 2009 report SPLC found
” a dramatic resurgence in the Patriot movement and its paramilitary wing, the militias, began. Now, the latest SPLC count finds that an astonishing 363 new Patriot groups appeared in 2009, with the totals going from 149 groups (including 42 militias) to 512 (127 of them militias) — a 244% jump” .
A few days ago I stumbled upon a video of a C-SPAN caller complaining about the number of Black callers on a show.
This is why the Republican party is in shambles today. Uneducated, yet
vociferous fools on the fringes are drowning out any bit of sense the moderates
are making. I can’t help but get nauseous when I think about the future of our
country with those overzealous tea partiers and other right wing extremist
trying to “take back their country”. From who? Now too many Black people are
calling in on C-SPAN? Give me a break.
What is even more upsetting is the fact the commentator told the caller he
understands his frustration. You understand that too many Black people are
voicing their opinions about politics on national television? I think every time
President Obama accomplishes something, the crazy right-wingers get even
crazier. God forbid we successfully end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The
right-wing fundmanetalists would be up in arms. Although I’m optimistic, I weep for the future of this nation and its’ people. We are living in an age hate, not hope; an age of combat, not compromise, an age of factions, not friendships. Stop the hate and spread the love!