The headline on Drudge Report was sinister, touching off racially paranoid fantasies in each of the 11 or so states where his site is still popular:
Increase intensity? Oh no! Michelle Obama is telling African Americans to band together to fight white people! Michele Bachmann and Glenn Beck were right! She's coming to get us! They are coming to get us! And I'm scared!
I was so freaked out that I actually followed Drudge's link. And it sent me here, to an ABC News story mentioning nothing about the First Lady telling blacks to "increase intensity."
Huh? What was going on here? I thought Michelle Obama was trying to rile up blacks. Was ABC now participating in a conspiracy to cover up her remarks, just like the MSM stamped out the "get whitey" video tape?
But I still couldn't find what it was that she had said. Nonetheless, I knew that what she said must have been wrong. Everybody was outraged, and they should have been.
It's one thing when wingers give a speech to fundamentalist American Taliban whackjobs or run political ads calling President Obama a slavemaster, but it's quite another thing when the First Lady speaks to the NAACP in an election year and tells blacks that now is the time to "increase intensity." That is fanning the flames of racism, pure and simple. Right?
But there was still part of me that wanted to see her full, unsnipped remarks. I just had to see each and every one of her awful, wretched words. So I kept on digging until I found the transcript.
Actually, it turns out that the transcript was at my fingertips the whole time. It was sitting right there in my inbox from the White House Press Office. How nice of them to send me her hate speech.
So with the transcript now open on the monitor in front of me, I rubbed my hands together, ready -- and, yes, I'll admit, a little bit afraid -- to read her militant speech.
It didn't take long to find the relevant passage:
When African American communities are still hit harder than just about anywhere by this economic downturn, and so many families are just barely scraping by, I think the founders would tell us that now is not the time to rest on our laurels.
When stubborn inequalities still persist -- in education and health, in income and wealth -- I think those founders would urge us to increase our intensity, and to increase our discipline and our focus and keep fighting for a better future for our children and our grandchildren. (Applause.)
And that’s why I really wanted to come here today -- because I wanted to talk with you about an issue that I believe cries out for our attention -- one that is of particular concern to me, not just as First Lady, but as a mother who believes that we owe it to our kids to prepare them for the challenges that we know lie ahead. And that issue is the epidemic of childhood obesity in America today.
Now, right now in America, one in three children is overweight or obese, putting them at greater risk of obesity-related conditions like diabetes and cancer, heart disease, asthma.
And we’re already spending billions of dollars in this country a year to treat these conditions, and that number is only going to go up when these unhealthy children reach adulthood.
But it’s important to be clear that this issue isn’t about how our kids look. It’s not about that. It’s about how our kids feel. It’s about their health and the health of our nation and the health of our economy.
And there’s no doubt that this is a serious problem. It’s one that is affecting every community across this country. But just like with so many other challenges that we face as a nation, the African American community is being hit even harder by this issue. (Applause.)
We are living today in a time where we’re decades beyond slavery, we are decades beyond Jim Crow; when one of the greatest risks to our children’s future is their own health.
African American children are significantly more likely to be obese than are white children. Nearly half of African American children will develop diabetes at some point in their lives. People, that’s half of our children.
And if we don’t do something to reverse this trend right now, our kids won’t be in any shape to continue the work begun by the founders of this great organization.
The first thing I noticed was that not only did Michelle tell African Americans to "increase intensity" but she also urged more "discipline." Those were truly frightening words to hear, given that the race war was finally upon us.
I kept on reading, hoping to gain insight into her battle plan.
And that's when it happened. After completing the next paragraph, I realized this wasn't a speech about race war. In fact, Michelle Obama was talking about the scourge of childhood obesity.
In a matter of seconds -- maybe even faster than that -- it dawned on me that I actually agreed with her. In fact, what she was saying was incontrovertibly true. It was obvious. We do need to increase our intensity to combat this important health problem. We do need more discipline in addressing fundamental health problems that hold some of our nation's children back.
Suddenly, I felt relieved. It was soothing to know that when it comes to Michelle Obama, there's nothing to be afraid of. In fact, if you let yourself, you might just get inspired, because her speech was really a speech about love -- love of country, love of community, and love for our nation's children.
Yet somehow the right-wing noise machine tried to turn her speech into one about hate. And in the end, it says more about them and their fears and their motivations than it does about Michelle Obama or any of the rest of us.
Their paranoia really is the past. And slowly but surely we will close the door on it and find our way to a better future.