Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Transformation

I've written before about Obama as a transformational president. But you can literally feel Ta-Nehisi Coates on his heels marveling at the transformation he witnessed last night.
The United States of America, a country with the vending of black people barely out of living memory, with the systemic white supremacy very much in its living memory, re-elected a black president.

That president is the killer of Osama bin Laden. That president, a black man, a card-carrying member of this country's pariah class, is now seen by Americans as its most effective guardian. That president is the pivotal figure in what must be one of the most progressive nights in American history, and arguably the most progressive night in American history in some 40 years.

I am not sure what more to make of this. I would not say that the battle is over, but that some monster of American history, some wraith, some awful Power went into battle last night, and is presently limping away mortally wounded. The beast-handlers know this. I think it's broadcast in Bill O'Reilly's open racism, in Karl Rove's flight into lunacy. It is slowly dawning on them: This isn't 1968. The hippies are punching back.
I'm not sure if he meant it that way, but Coates' last sentence is full of irony in that it has been the self-identified "hippies" who have accused President Obama of punching them.

And yet you can see in this little piece of Coates' vision the story so many of us have been trying to tell about this President for so long.  In a most intriguing way, Obama has made that monster more and more visible to the people of this country and it was THEY who started punching back last night.  So rather than being scared of those hippies (as many Americans were in the 70's), they have BECOME the hippies.

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