To Barack or Not

A few days ago I received a forwarded e-mail from an acquaintance that I know through our shared love of labrador retrievers. The subject line was, “Who is Barack Obama?” My buddy, who’ll remain nameless, is a salt of the earth guy. He’s worked hard his entire life, raised a family and is the quintessential “give you the shirt off his back,” person we all respect. As you’ve surely surmised, the information contained in this e-mail didn’t paint a very flattering portrait of Mr. Obama. Fair enough, Obama’s a big boy. He knew exactly what he was exposing himself and his family to when he chose to run for President.

Today, we are all media savvy enough to recognize that character assassination and misinformation, are routinely used in political campaigns. But this e-mail went too far, simultaneously punching both the race and religious hot buttons. To cap it off, once I followed the web link that was provided to prove the “TRUTH” about Obama, I discovered the information actually disproved all of the bigoted accusations asserted in the original e-mail. My guess is that most people won’t bother checking the link out to see just what was the real story is.

For the record, I’m not on the Obama bandwagon. Until he dropped out, I favored Democrat Bill Richardson’s energy ideas and international diplomacy background. For the Republican’s, McCain seems the most sensible candidate. As a registered Independent, I’m one of those voters that both candidates and pollsters dread. The message, not the party, is what matters. Perhaps it is this constituency who will determine our next President. One can dream.

I’m not quite sure why Obama scares people. I find his dialog a welcomed change to the political landscape. He actually talks about hope. Wow, what a novel concept.

Back to the e-mail. A few highlights: •Obama was sworn into office using the Quran, not the bible – FALSE. •Obama is a radical Muslim – FALSE, in fact he attends the Trinity United Church of Christ. •Obama’s church has a”non-negotiable commitment to Africa,” that is covertly Muslim and excludes non-blacks, FALSE. I could go on in detail, but suffice to say, the e-mail rhetoric was very inflammatory. You get the picture.

Perhaps experiencing prejudice firsthand makes one more sensitive to these issues. Growing up, I was routinely heckled and attacked by a fellow classmate, simply because of my religion. My parents told me to “turn the other cheek,” and “just walk away.” Then one day I’d had enough. I was walking to school, relentlessly being taunted and pelted with a few well-placed rocks. One too many, “Hitler didn’t get the job done,” remarks were uttered, and so, I crossed the street and proceeded to beat my classmate pretty badly. I’ve always felt a tinge of remorse about my actions that day, because I knew he was physically, a weak and fearful person. But, at some point we must all be held accountable for the words we speak.

You know that all dogs are color blind. There must be at least one good reason for that. Oftentimes, I’ve thought a good dog is much better company kept, than some people I’ve met along the way. Think about it. All a dog truly desires, is a good belly rub, a place to sleep, food, and water. In return, they protect your home and give you their undivided attention. They never lie to you. Okay, the smart ones will try. Honestly, they just can’t help themselves, they’re just like teenagers testing limits. If you fight with them, instead of storming out of the house or locking themselves in a room, they sit there with those sad eyes until you reassure them everything’s all right. How lucky we are to have domesticated these wild animals into such faithful companions. Perhaps, we should all try to emulate their behavior more often.

It never seems to fail, that fear remains the quickest method for tearing down a political figure. I find it shameful; that an intelligent, articulate and charismatic figure like Obama is attacked simply because of his skin color and a “Middle Eastern” sounding name. Prove to me, that’s not what’s going on here. As I wrote my dog friend, there’s no place for this type of racial bigotry and hatred in America today.

We are still the land of opportunity, aren’t we? I hope, for my children’s sake, the answer to that question is an unqualified, yes.


One thought on “To Barack or Not

  1. Pile On

    Reader, I’ll bet you’re thinking about how dangerous and pathetic bigotry is. This low-key lynching of Obama points out the obvious. But, can you be honest – doesn’t it make you feel more secure within the close sphere of your daily life when there’s someone else to talk about? Turns and keeps the attention away from me, reinforces my secure place in the group. The group can be dangerous so it’s best to fit in and not draw attention so they don’t say such things about me. Truth is a hindrance to gossip, so it’s the first thing discarded. Obama (he is not the candidate I support) is a target because speaking the truth makes people uncomfortable, a threat to the fragile equilibrium of the safe niche we each create for ourselves, especially when it comes from a person who doesn’t mirror our image or points fingers at our behavior. You would never outright lynch a person would you? or put someone in a concentration camp? But you would – and do – jump to unwarranted conclusions without first checking out facts, judge, and gossip or otherwise act on that judgment. You do it everyday. But I’ll bet as you read this comment, you refuse to consider the damage you are causing by leaping to unfounded judgment. Think about it. Thanks, Eli, for this opportunity for each of us to take a look at ourselves and be a better person.

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