Did anyone really think America could elect a half-black president and not see the racism inherent both here and around the world rear its ugly head? Well, what may seem quite discouraging may, in fact, be a good start toward moving beyond this ancient brand of intolerance. Allowing these backwards thinkers out into the light makes it easier to recognize and address the issues that create and sustain these misguided, fearful beliefs.
We as a race seem to be drawn to finding differences in one another. We seem to have a biological/social need to create “us” and “them”. More progressive thinkers are apt to study and understand the roots of such feelings and reactions and try to move beyond being victim to such desperate, small-minded attitudes. But there are many people the world over, quite possibly a majority, that do not think deeply enough or hold enough self-awareness to do much more than react to what is stirred within.
Now I know that sounds like I’m holding myself aloft and placing myself lovingly in the former category, but I too must fight off any prejudices and learn to understand my own actions and reactions. I am not without fault here. I am, like so many others, a product of the society and education my country has offered me. And while much has changed for the better during my lifetime, I am still a reflection of the world around me. I just try and see it as clearly as possible with eyes wide open. Or as open as I am capable of at this time.
On our own shores here in the States, we have attention-hounds like Glenn Beck who can’t seem to clearly separate what brings him a measure of celebrity and what is actually damaging and potentially life-threatening. His recent comments about Obama have no positive outcome. They are mired in hatred and self-importance and appeal–not so much to those who find his outrageousness amusing–but to those who actually believe what he says and desire to act on it.
Earlier this week on Fox and Friends, Beck claimed that Obama is “a guy who has a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture. I don’t know what it is…” When confronted with the facts that Obama’s mother was white and that many members of his Administration are white, Beck replied:
“I’m not saying he doesn’t like white people, I’m saying he has a problem. This guy is, I believe, a racist.”
Of course anyone with half a brain can see that Beck is either just looking to stir the pot because it garners him lots of press, or he’s just plainly and simply an idiot with no common sense whatsoever. Either way, what’s clear is that this guy himself has some deep-rooted issues that would benefit greatly from some long and very intense therapy sessions. Let’s go back in time and confront little Glenn Beck and figure out where all this hatred and anger came from. Who was it that beat you up and made you such an angry person, little Glenny?
Then, of course, there’s CNN’s Lou Dobbs who appeals to the desperate “birthers” and their tired belief that Obama is not, in fact, an American citizen and is therefore a false president. Even though Obama has produced his birth certificate on more than one occasion and it has been verified by all those who need to verify and authenticate such things, these people and Mr. Dobbs himself keep calling for the President to produce that same certificate. I guess people really only hear what they want to hear.
Those who found themselves horrified and frightened by both the election and re-election of George W. Bush never stooped to such mindless levels in such a massive way as the Obama-haters have. Sure, there were some real crazies on the left fringe, but nothing as front and center as these fellows. One starts to believe that the right-wing itself is a lunatic fringe. But… in an attempt to not create an “us” and “them” I will state that there are enough smart, intelligent, forward thinking Republicans out there who do not support or endorse such comments and behavior. Just look at how many conservatives jumped ship and refused to follow McCain and Palin when they became the representatives of the most dangerous fringe elements of the right.
Now, these feelings are not reserved for Americans only. It was reported today that thousands of Jewish settlers in the West Bank have protested Obama’s request for a West Bank settlement freeze. According to the New York Times:
Rabbi Yigael Shandorfi, leader of a religious academy at the neighboring settlement outpost of Nahliel, said during the ceremony. “Our hope is that there will be roads, electricity and water.” The message to President Obama, he said, is that this is Jewish land. He did not use the president’s name, but an insulting Hebrew slang for a black man and the phrase “that Arab they call a president.”
But the slurs didn’t stop there:
Yitzhak Shadmi, leader of the regional council of settlements, said Mr. Obama was a racist and anti-Semite for his assertion that Jews should not build here, but Arabs could.
And one wonders why peace is such a difficult thing to achieve. Hatred and non-communication is so much easier. Strong emotions replace common sense and an ability to converse intelligently with a constructive goal to bring people together. It’s so much easier to point fingers and ride the wave of hatred and intolerance.
And I in no way mean to suggest that I am immune from it in my pointing it out in others. It’s simply an observation. And a concern. And I clearly have an intolerance of such behavior. An intolerance I must continue to address and learn to understand.