I find it absolutely incredible that there is such intense negativity against President-Elect Barack Obama now that the US Presidential election is over.
On the day that we commemorate the end of the first World War, the day the guns fell silent, and observe 2 minutes silence for the millions of men & women, military & civilian, who died in the years from 1914-1918, we look back and pay our respects. We fought the Germans and their allies, we shot at, bombed, gassed and killed each other. Granted, time is a great healer and 90 years have gone past, but we endured another World War and still do not hate the Germans, we do not hate the Turks, nor the Japanese. Across oceans and continents we are all friends.
Yet in modern day, 21st century, democratic America there are people who hate Barack Obama.
A friend of mine, pre-election, continually posted many negative references to Obama on his facebook pages. Very little was posted on the virtues of McCain or Palin, there were mainly attacks on Obama. My friend’s status would flash up most days with yet another anti-Obama remark. The fact that he has well over a thousand other “friends”, some I know to be of extremely tenuous association, seemed to indicate that facebook and social networking is a thin veil over self-promotion and political propaganda. One post started along the lines of
I don’t want to compare Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler, but…
And then he went on to try and make the connection between the days of the Great Depression and the rise of Hitler with the current economic crisis and the appeal of Barack Obama. Of course there are similarities, but that’s as far as it goes; Similarities.
Unfortunately there are people out there who lap up this sort of stuff and, no matter what is said, jump up and shout their support because it’s the same cause. One guy felt the need to make the remark that every time he saw black kids singing songs for Obama he was reminded of the Hitler Youth. The guy, whose picture was of himself in headgear with his hound, prompted my own sarcastic retort that Hitler also wore hats and had a dog. Touché, Dumbo.
Another comment threw religious support against Obama. Whilst I struggle to maintain a healthy respect for religion, I find that condemnation in the name of faith completely obsoletes the moral high-ground; for me to be called “blinkered” for not allowing my life to be defined by the words of one book I find to be immensely hypocritical.
These are the people at the more subtle end of the spectrum, and now that the American democratic system has decided that Barack Obama is to be the 44th President of their United States, there are still whines coming out of the Republican camp. McCain himself was very gracious in his acceptance of defeat whereas his supporters were not. [See McCain’s concession speech on YouTube] This is mirrored in the quips that the only good thing about Obama is that he’s African American and nothing else. How incredibly narrow-minded that opinion is and to come from people who continually urged other voters to use their brains is laughable.
So why the hate against Obama? If it’s not because he’s partly of African descent then what is it all about?
One sad potential is that it’s a tit-for-tat attitude in the same way that people thought Iraq was behind the attacks on the Twin Towers (as many as 69% of Americans, according to a story in the Washington Post). If the belief was that Iraq was behind the September 11th attacks, then the knee-jerk reaction was to hit back at the perpetrator, widely missing Saudi Arabia, from where most of the plane hijackers came from.
The slogan “Barack Obama is not my President” has come to light recently. Whilst Barack Obama gained 51% of the vote to John McCain’s 47%, there are obviously many millions of Americans who did not choose Obama as their next leader. The most juvenile aspect of the slogan, however, stems from the fact that it’s probably just a simple retort to the fact that it has been bandied around in its original form during George W Bush’s reign as “George W Bush is not my President”. G W Bush, whether Americans like him or not, IS their President. However the sentiment about possibly The Worst President in History was based upon the premise that Bush was not the legitimate 42nd President after being widely accused of stealing the vote in Florida.
Also, whatever Bush does is in the name of the American people, so when he went to war in Iraq it comes as no surprise that people wanted to distance themselves from him. America’s status on the world stage suffered immensely as a result of the invasion of Iraq, as did Britain’s. Where Tony Blair was voted in as a breath of fresh air to blow away the disillusionment with the Conservative government in Britain, all that goodwill was lost when he involved us in the attack on Iraq. Tony Blair then lost his status as our leader in a spiritual sense if not a physical one when he made Britain unpopular.
The difference between hate for Bush and hate for Obama is that Bush has been in power long enough to earn contempt, let alone the allegations of “stealing the vote”. Barack Obama, however, is getting hate before he has even started. I don’t know where this hate springs from but I suspect a lot of it is based on sour grapes, that the Republicans were so fired up that they hated losing.
Ignorance is another reason for hatred; belief that Obama is of any religion other than his own is deeply stupid. Fear of change and fear of more social policies are other reasons for the hatred. Religion has hijacked many aspects of American life, coming to the fore in bold statements such as “God Bless America” and “In God We Trust”. In a country that was founded on the basis that religion, state and politics should not be intertwined, maybe there’s a fear that America will become a “Godless” country.
I have heard so much about HOPE for America. The US can be respected in the world again with a renewed foreign policy. America can do things for the cause of good nature, social, environmental and economic responsibility rather than lining the pockets of the rich and pandering to the needs of big corporations. Many Americans, Brits and Europeans have echoed this sentiment and there is a positive expectation in America once again.
But the hate is a concern. How deep does it go and how long will it last? Will the extremism die out and only centrist politics remain with mere elements of left and right wing doctrines?
I doubt that Obama’s tenure will be perfect; he is, after all, just a man, albeit a charismatic and intelligent man. There may be pain in some of his policies but change has to happen. The world cannot continue to expand at the rate it has done so in recent years, there are other nations on the rise and a planet that may not be able to sustain the pressures exerted on it by mankind.
Let’s hope Barack Obama is the good man he promises to be and that he can win the hearts and minds of those who currently hate him. And if he cannot do this then there may be no hope for them.