I don't really follow any "Tea Party" news, non-stop illogical coverage. And I definitely stay as far as I can from their hateful, lame signs (how could that NYT poll find teabaggers to be "well educated" is quite strange to me). But since it was quite impossible to avoid them completely over the past few days, two quotes caught my attention:
- "It's not just because he's black...."
- "He's not my president, never ever will be...".
And it got me thinking....
At first, my reaction was: well, Duh. Of course he's not their president. it's not just because he's black, it's also because he's a Kenyan-born-Muslim, a socialist, communist, Marxist, fascist, America-hating Nazi, a regular Adolf Stalin!
But then I thought, this is too easy. It's gotta be something more. The very interesting Muzikal203' diary suggested another possibility: It's not enough that he's black (Kenyan-born-Muslim, a socialist, communist, Marxist, fascist, America-hating Nazi, a regular Adolf Stalin!), he's basically winning 90% of the fights. And it drives them nuts. The amount of things that he managed to achieve in 15 months – and I'm only talking about stuff you can describe as "first ever" or "for the first time in decades" or "the biggest ever" -scares the shit out of their already terrorized souls.
Plus, if someone like him can become president - Hey, Scott Brown "always said that Obama is an American". Hallelujah! - what's next? A gay president????!!! Brrrr.
But i think there's another possible layer to this. Right now I'm in the middle of reading David Remnick' Obama biography – 'The Bridge' (Well, not really in the middle, page 120, and this beast is 600 loaded pages long, and Obama wasn't even born until page 55). Obviously a lot of the stuff is familiar to anyone who read 'Dreams From My Father', but this is from a a very different point of view, it's much more rounded, all the pseudonyms from 'Dreams' get their real names here, many of them are quoted on record, and there's a lot of new stuff too. It's very well written and fascinating. Anyway, that's not the point.
The point is couple of anecdotes from early in the book:
- The Joella Edwards story ('Correta' in the president's memoir). She was the only black kid in Punahou School in Hawaii and she went through hell there. Kids called her terrible names; she came home crying every day. When she tried to raise her grades and started studying harder, her teacher accused her of cheating and she was forced to take the test again. So after the ninth grade, she dropped out and enrolled in a public school. "I was a basket case for years", she told Remnick.
The only thing that kept her sane that year was this new kid, Barry.
"When we first met, we were ten years old. He came to school and I was so excited. This kid has my same coloring. He looked like me. He was just like me. We didn't avoid each other, we were drawn to each other, but we had to keep our distance, or they all mocked us as a couple – the two black kids. And yet, Barry never rejected me. He was my knight in shining armor".
- One quote from Lisa Jack, a friend who took this famous photo shoot when they were at Occidental College: "If he saw you sitting alone, he would just come sit down with you".
- And the story of Sohale Siddiqi, a guy from Pakistan who overstayed his tourist visa and was living illegally on the Upper east Side, and somehow became one of young Obama's best friends when he just arrived to New York and went to Colombia University. Siddiqi was trouble. He was drinking and doing drugs. Young Barack Obama was beyond that already, yet they became friends and shared an apartment, even though they lived an entirely different lives. Obama refused to judge him. Siddiqi told Remnick: "At that age, I thought he was a saint and a square, and he took himself too seriously. I would ask him why he was so serious. He was genuinely concerned with the plight of the poor. He would give me lectures, which I thought were boring".
Then, Remnick writes:
Siddiqi learned to admire Obama's forgiving temperament. Obama, he noticed, never said anything when Siddiqi's mother, who has never spent time around a black man, was rude to him. Long after Obama moved out, because of Siddiqi's constant partying, Obama proved a constant friend when Siddiqi developed a serious cocaine problem. Many years later, Siddiqi recorded a telling message for his answering machine: "My name is Hal Siddiqi and I approve this message. Vote for peace, vote for hope, vote for change and vote for Obama".
It's just a couple of anecdotes from many years ago, but they're consistent with everything we know about Barack Obama's history and character. And those qualities – compassion, empathy, caring for others, worrying about the less fortunate, the ability to stand in other people's shoes, the openness to people of every color, faith or nationality, and the very rare ability to forgive ("Forgiveness is the final form of love" - Reinhold Niebuhr) – Those teabaggers (not all of them, I'm sure, but I bet it's an overwhelming majority) are simply not familiar with such qualities.
Just like some people distort the Koran to fit their crazy fanaticism, teabaggers twist ideals like "Freedom" and "Self Reliance" and "Individualism" into something that is 180 degrees different. "Freedom" is the freedom to hate anyone who isn't like "us", "Individualism" is ignoring anyone who is not as successful as "we are" because it's their fault and they can go to hell, and "Self Reliance" turned into simple selfishness.
They see this president, who is not only black (and Kenyan-born-Muslim, a socialist, communist, Marxist, fascist, America hating Nazi, a regular Adolf Stalin!) he also dare to respect all kinds of Chinese and Japanese, and he goes to congress and spit scary words like "social justice" and "protecting the vulnerable" and "lifting people out of poverty"; and he's got some weird 21th century ideas; And he's looking for a Supreme Court justice with "empathy" - And it scares them to death. Because these words and ideas and ideals are as foreigner and unacceptable to them as the name Barack Hussein Obama.
So yes, they hate him because he's a black (and Kenyan-born-Muslim....), he's also smart successful one, to add salt to injury. But i guess my point is that in the end, it doesn't matter why they hate him, because they live in the 14th century and he's somewhere around the year 2130, and he really can't be their president.