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Recently I posted a comment, a rant really, in a diary about Ted Rall, the cartoonist we've all been debating as of late, explaining why I found myself deeply troubled over his depictions of President Obama, which, in the perception of many, frequently exhibited an ape-like appearance.

This issue crosses over the usual lines of debate so often seen on Daily Kos, between people who support the Obama administrations policies, and people who tend to be critical of it.

A number of people commented on my post, and I was asked by a friend to repost it here in diary form.

 It is never worth hurting people (63+ / 0-)

... not just one or two, but an entire people, to make a point. Have you any idea how much pain has been inflicted on African Americans? Oh sure... we all think we know. We intellectually know. We read books or saw a movie, but we white people didn't have to live it, or have all that pain passed down for generations, having to learn all those humiliating ways to survive in the white world. People lack the ability to understand. People can't place themselves in others shoes. They just don't know how... They lack the genes, or whatever it is that allows people to feel the pain of another. They don't care. Caring means feeling, feeling means understanding, understanding means standing in someones shoes. It takes imagination.

What is the deepest pain you've ever felt? Maybe some physical pain, some break up with a mate, the death of a loved one. Multiply it by a hundred, no, a thousand... torture, endless work, dying under a whip, a noose, the slave ships, the horrors, the domination, endless years of it. Fuck me, do I have to explain this? Fuck...

So, what does it matter that you inflict just a little bit more, eh? Some things have a greater priority. Some things are more important than the goddamn ego of a cartoonist. Some things matter more than insisting on some way of drawing another human being.

Dehumanizing a figure with the stature of Obama offends people. Can white people imagine what it means to millions of African Americans to have waited for eons for the moment, the goddamn miracle in white society that enslaved them, when a black person becomes the President? Can any non-black person conceive of this? Remember Jesse Jackson's tears when Obama became the President?

I thought my friends on the left had a working understanding of this. I thought you all got it. I thought you were all just contrarians, stubborn argumentative leftists, but that you that you understood the basic premise of the left.

It's all about the people. Mutual aid. I've cried tonight.

I have received kosmail from all sides, many expressing agreement with my short rant. This isn't just a rox/sux division. I have heard from white parents with Black children, African Americans, people in support and not in support of current Democratic party policy, even an anarchist or two, all in support of what I wrote. This saddens me to no end. I have learned that I wasn't alone, that the depictions have caused far more hurt and gut wrenching pain than I had understood.

Please understand I wrote the comment not to impugn or cast stones, but to express the deep anguish this issue has inflicted on many Daily Kos members, particularly members of the African American community.  And this issue has touched more than a few of us, regardless of where we typically stand. I have found solidarity and camaraderie with people with whom I've often had bitter arguments over our differing politics. I feel honored that this has happened, and I think the least I can do to accommodate the request.

I think it is worth pointing out that despite having strong opinions of the issue,  no one who contacted me engaged in strident attacks or diatribes against anyone. All were for the most part quite tolerant of people who didn't share the same views.

Understand that this is meant with nothing but goodwill, and that this is what community is all about, that of putting aside for at least a moment our own opinions and concerns, to see when something is hurting people.

And to do this one thing, this simple effort of understanding another human being, is the essence of what I believe in, what I fight for.

Yes, it made me cry, and I felt an overwhelming upwelling of emotion from my very core, and I can tell you all that I have learned that many persons have shed real tears over this ordeal. I can tell you this has been hurtful, really, deeply hurtful to a lot of people.

Please know it has caused pain.

And please keep the comment section civil. Debate policy, debate ideas, but don't mock people. Don't even inadvertently mock people. Don't ridicule the feelings of other people.

And I do realize that there has been pain on the other side of this debate, too. I know that a lot of people feel misunderstood. This is not lost on me, no matter how much I disagree with the view. I know we all have our way of seeing this.  

So let's begin the healing process. Let's all stand together in solidarity, even if just for this one diary.

We can do this. We can go back to our usual scheduled fighting later.  

In solidarity, equality, and fraternity,



Originally posted to ZhenRen on Wed Dec 04, 2013 at 07:30 AM PST.

Also republished by White Privilege Working Group, Barriers and Bridges, Support the Dream Defenders, and Kitchen Table Kibitzing.

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