I am dismayed.
This 2008 election has jaded me some. No, I'm not talking about the negative ads, although I will say that the b.s. on both sides has been epic this go-around. But I'm used to that. I've been voting since 1994. I first registered to vote during my freshman year at Central Missouri State University in Warrensburg, Missouri, a little town I'd never lived in before and have not revisited since transferring in 1995. And as such, I didn't know jack about any of the issues of the local election any of the politicians. I just was excited to finally be able to vote and jumped at the first chance. The point is, I'd already seen enough to not be jaded any more about the process than I already am.
No. What has me bummed is that I am finding out we have not made as much progress as I'd thought we'd made since the 1960's as far as race relations. Things like race baiting and people playing the race card had been really irritating me for years (see my writeup on Al Sharpton for some of that frustration) because I was convinced that racism was almost dead, relegated mainly to people who wear white hoods. Here I'm speaking of the really overt type, as opposed to people unconsciously choosing people of their own race for things, job positions and whatnot, in what would otherwise arbitrary decisions. And of course there are a number of other things that subtlety influence such decisions such as looks, age, even gender (still!); that's in our nature and I don't think you can ever completely eradicate that.
But I am dismayed. Even if I wasn't voting Obama I would be. Because it turns out that I was wrong. Or, at least, it's more alive than I'd previously thought - I do want to give credit where credit is due as far as the efforts of a lot of people since the 1960's, not the least of whom the great Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr..
What I am talking about here is what I am hearing people say about Barack Obama, the current nominee for the Democratic presidential candidate. If you aren't hearing any of it, too, from people that you associate with, let me tell you, you should hear the outrageous things I am hearing right-wingers espouse lately about Mr. Obama. It's a lot more than race, but it's the race thing that has me dismayed the most. Like for instance my babysitter calls him "The Obamination" and is convinced that he is indeed likely the Antichrist, no doubt spawned from discussions and/or sermons at the Baptist church she attends. And the whole thing where he is for killing babies (spawned from two bills he voted down while a state senator in Illinois which would have required doctors to save babies aborted alive but he voted YES on the federal bill that President Bush signed into law) that really bugs the crap out of me.
But my mother-in-law last weekend, who has been ranting about the man for quite some time, said very clearly she wasn't voting for him because he's black. That, and, he's "of the foreign nations" whatever the hell that's supposed to mean. Maybe it has to do with a lot of idiots believing idiots who claim he wasn't born in the States (he was, and it was in Hawaii, thank you) and has lived overseas and attended a school which had a high percentage of Muslims (not a Muslim school, per se). Anyway, those statements floored me. Mostly because I didn't think she was racist. There are many people I am discovering are racist that I hadn't previously thought were.
Probably the worst things I heard was back when Obama and Hillary were still duking it out for the nomination. My wife's cousin's husband and his brother - a couple of "good ol' boys," were having a lively discussion about Mr. Obama. Now, I suppose that they were mostly joking, but it's something that most reasonable people don't joke about. They basically were laughing about something they'd like to do that, if the Secret Service had heard them, they'd probably have been arrested, joking or not. I won't be any more specific than that, I'll let you use your imagination.
Incidentally, my wife's cousin's husband was a guy that I didn't like when I first met him, but when they had a child around the same time we had ours we started socializing more with them, letting the kids play, and I got to know that he loves the St. Louis Blues, and hockey in general, as much as I do, so I liked him, and I finally had somebody to play hockey with on the X-Box. Now, I don't think I like him again.
My point is that, even though I've only seen this in a handful of people, I am sure that it is just the tip of the iceberg, as it were. This is ironic because the mere fact that Obama has become the first black major Presidential candidate should be demonstrating how far we've come. However, besides that fact, things I have been hearing people say tell a much different story. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe Al Sharpton isn't so much a self-aggrandizing egomaniac exploiting imaginary racism for his own political gain.
Actually, he probably is, but maybe he's not as far off the mark as I'd previously thought and hoped.
Now I wonder how the next four years will be if Obama is elected in November. What will I hear from these backwoods hicks down amongst my wife's family? Or from people who are supposedly civilized like my kids' babysitter?
These are interesting times, my friends. And depressing. I am purposely doing this on a 9/11 because on that terrible day, the cliché goes, we all came together, black and white, Democrat and Republican, blah blah blah. "Things will be different now" we all thought. Well, not so much. Things are as bad as ever.
Or maybe even worse.
I am so glad for my sons that they have a father who will teach them not to hate anybody based on race, gender, sexual orientation (that's another subject/rant altogether for a different writeup), religion, nationality, etc etc (the list can go on and on). It makes me almost want to try to keep him away from family members who are otherwise good but might poison his mind with this garbage.
When I think about things like this, and other terrible things our society has seen like genocides and holocausts, culturally accepted infanticide, child molestation, it really makes me think, just what the hell is wrong with us? Some say it should be an indictment against religion. But is religion just an excuse or a just a justification for doing the evil things people had wanted to do anyway?
Let’s see what happens in 2009. We’re either going to have the first black President in the U.S. or first female vice president. Even though there are many things I do not like about Sarah Palin, John McCain’s running mate, I’d been wanting to see a female President or Vice President for quite some time. At any rate, these are interesting times. Hopefully during the next Administration, whoever wins, perhaps people will proven wrong about certain biases Americans, and other citizens of the world, have long held.
Hey, I am dismayed lately, but am still a “glass is half full” kind of guy despite this.