Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Looking Backwards

In the midst of all the Trump agita, and particularly the way it's fueled by feelings of powerless and lost status among whites, I thought back to some posts of mine from just after Obama was elected and then inaugurated. Remember that? Before the Republicans in Congress had announced they would oppose him in every way?

First, there was this, Not Everyone's Happy About Our New President.

Just before the election, I heard or saw a number of stories about white racists reacting to the impending likelihood of Obama's election. (My favorite was the separatist who was going to vote for Obama to bring on the race war faster.) Then for over a week after the election, I didn't hear a thing about the racist reaction to the election's outcome.

It was a nice week, in which I almost got the feeling that everyone was either happy about or at least resigned to an Obama presidency. But I guess the media were just waiting a little before reporting on what's been going on out in naziland, USA.

Check out this AP story, "Obama's Election Set Off Racism Wave" (which I read in the Pioneer Press on Sunday), which tells of everything from second and third graders in Idaho chanting "assassinate Obama" to a general store in Maine running a "shotgun pool" to award money for the most accurate assassination prediction. Another story with more background was in the Christian Science Monitor.

Both stories cite the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based, long-time advocate of racial integration and instigator of organizations like Klan Watch. SPLC's blog has a couple of entries on the topic, one called After the Election, the other Hate Groups Claim Obama Win Is Sparking Recruitment Surge.

I'm looking for the silver lining in this cloud, and I think I've come up with it: All of the death threats and rumblings about secession should keep the Feds busy for the next four years at least, so perhaps they won't have time to infiltrate or roust supposed left-wing anarchists in their homes.
Links provided in the original.

Then there was my post the day after Obama's inauguration, reacting to his speech.
I just reread Obama's inaugural address, and I like it better. I'm not saying I didn't like it the first time, but I have a tendency to not pay enough attention when I first hear something. I guess I'm a visual learner, rather than an auditory one.

The highlights for me:
  • The overall message that we have to put away childish things and accept sacrifice, responsibility, and common effort if we're going to have a chance of solving the problems we face. I've been waiting for years for a politician to say that and mean it.
  • The statement that he will return science to its proper place in government decision making.
  • "We reject the false choice between our safety and our ideals."
  • The inclusion of nonbelievers in his list of belief communities. (That probably surprised me more than anything in the whole speech.)
I thought that closing with George Washington and the "winter of our hardship" was appropriate and moving. (Although I may resonate more than many people with the revolutionary army's situation, having read a fair amount about it.) I think the decision to quote Washington was meant to reinforce that Obama is in some ways moving beyond race -- since Washington, the slave-owning father of our country, is not usually a prime source of quotes for black folks....

And now, let's get to work!
He was right from the beginning about that false choice between safety and our ideals (and he should have remembered that when he recently asked Apple to hack the iPhone). But too many of us are overwhelmed by fear and seem willing to give up anything to feel safe. And even more surprising, I think, is how many of us want to scapegoat other individuals for the huge economic changes that are happening in the world.

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