Obama: What’s So Good About HIM?
Does he represent any kind of change at all?
Image by jondresner via Flickr
The way it has been presented from the start, is as the election of America’s first black president. Firstly and most significant is the color of his skin. This is a sign of progress, they tell us. America would not have done this twenty, or even ten years ago. Never mind that ten years ago, people were talking about racism as a “thing of the past”. Obama’s election has been sold to the American public as another reason for mutual back-patting and as a sign of superiority to the rest of the world. It is one more step forward away from slavery and Jim Crow. That will always be the case. Even if Obama’s approval ratings slip and he loses the next election America will always be able to say that it had elected him. America gave him a shot where no other First World country would ever have come close to letting an ethnic minority rule.
It will, of course, be forgotten that most of the criticisms of Obama, from the flag-pin flap, to the birth-certificate controversy, to the “terrorist fist-bump” have all smacked of the same jingoist, racist arguments. He cannot be truly American because he is not white, this is the core argument of the Tea Party and the Birther movement. All of the other stuff is just garnish, camouflage, there to hide the politically incorrect ideas. The politically incorrect ideas need to be hidden because they would be dismissed, easily, in any kind of rational debate.
Obama’s election, instead of showing American progress has, perhaps, shown that such progress is impossible. That a country that starts out in genocide and slavery cannot emerge from its history, no matter how badly it wants to do that.
Several questions emerge at this point, the first one being that if racism cannot be defeated here, in the world’s melting pot, then can it be defeated anywhere?