Wednesday, April 27, 2011

I hear you Baratunde!

Its going to take a while for me to absorb what happened today and move from feelings to thoughts. I suppose that's why I appreciate what Baratunde Thurston had to say clearly came from his heart.

The only other thing I can say is that, once again, one of the best commentaries comes from the Republican David Frum.

Even for the small band that sustained the phony controversy until now, the birth certificate so-called issue ends today...

I know there will be Republican writers and conservative publicists who will now deny that birtherism ever did get a grip. Sorry, that’s just wrong. Not only did Trump surge ahead in Republican polls by flaming racial fires – not only did conservative media outlets from Fox to Drudge to the Breitbart sites indulge the birthers – but so also did every Republican candidate who said, “I take the president at his word.” Birthers did not doubt the president’s “word.” They were doubting the official records of the state of Hawaii. It’s like answering a 9/11 conspiracist by saying, “I take the 9/11 families at their word that they lost their loved ones.”

Yet even now, the racialist aspect of the anti-Obama movement has not subsided. Trump has moved from the birth certificate to questioning the president’s academic qualifications for the Harvard Law School. Trump himself was a troubled student (at one point he attended a military school) who nonetheless gained admission to Wharton. His father’s wealth and business success cannot have hurt with that application. Yet he feels himself qualified to pronounce on who is and who is not smart enough to attend Harvard Law. Barack Obama graduated magna cum laude. (And to anticipate a new line of attack – yes, Harvard Law School exams were blind-graded.) He was elected editor of the law review. And his classmates, left and right, universally admired his abilities.

I wish it were otherwise, but it does seem that these racialized attacks on Obama have exacted a toll on him. But they also have exacted a toll on the opposition to Obama. The too-faint repudiation of birtherism by regular Republicans has shaped not only the Obama brand, but also the Republican brand. It was not only white people who heard the implied message about who counts and who does not count as a “real American.”

Yes, the sadness is well identified by both Thurston and Frum...who gets included in our vision of a "real American."

I remember watching a video clip of "The View" the day after the 2008 election. One of the most profound statements about what that event meant was uttered by Whoopi Goldberg. She said that while she always thought of herself as an American, finally after the election she felt like she could put her suitcase down.

It breaks my heart that what she and many others probably experienced today is that perhaps its time to pick it up again.


  1. I hear you too, SP. When racial hatred smacks one SHARPLY in the face, as it has been doing more and more often in the last couple of years in America, it does often leave one speechless. One never really gets used to this - even though Ann Dunham said 'He's used to it' of the young Barack - but I'm happy to know that the President has a loving family, supportive friends, and is very resilient. Their behaviour hurts, but they will not conquer him, or us (the sane). We cannot let them.

  2. Thanks for that VC.

    I know that we'll all buck up and continue the struggle. But I need to let myself feel what our brother Baratunde expressed so well and try to understand what its like to live with that message of "you don't really belong."


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