Thursday, August 6, 2009

It took 200 days

I was shocked, and still am frankly. When a majority of the electorate of this nation decided to put Barack Obama in to the White House I disappointed. Despite his charm and appeal he is the philosophical antithesis of almost everything I stand for. Yet I took solace in the belief that his very liberal policies would probably result in a return to Conservative rule sooner rather than later. This despite the fact that I believe the Republicans are still fractured and disorganized. Simply I felt that the American people would not be bamboozled a second time.

A clear benefit that I felt we achieved through Obama's election however was what I thought would be the capstone of our long march toward racial equality. We had elected a Black Man as President. African Americans had reached the pinnacle of political office in our great nation. I thought that perhaps having been around since the sixties I could say I had seen racism at both its zenith and demise in the course of my life. Apparently I am wrong. At least that is what Philip Kennicott of the Washington Post would have you believe.

In his article in today's edition Kennicott attempts to insert race in to an equation where it does not exist. Apparently it goes something like this. Obama + strict philosophical criticism by conservatives - even the most oblique reference to race = racism. I do not belief this is true. What I do believe is that Kennicott and other supporters of Obama know this presidency is in trouble and only 200 days in to his administration are throwing the race card right on the table.

The Joker's makeup in "Dark Knight" -- the latest film in a long franchise that dramatizes fear of the urban world -- emphasized the wounded nature of the villain, the sense that he was both a product and source of violence. Although Ledger was white, and the Joker is white, this equation of the wounded and the wounding mirrors basic racial typology in America. Urban blacks -- the thinking goes -- don't just live in dangerous neighborhoods, they carry that danger with them like a virus. Scientific studies, which demonstrate the social consequences of living in neighborhoods with high rates of crime, get processed and misinterpreted in the popular unconscious, underscoring the idea. Violence breeds violence.

It is an ugly idea, operating covertly in that gray area that is always supposed to be opened up to honest examination whenever America has one of its "we need to talk this through" episodes. But it lingers, unspoken but powerful, leaving all too many people with the sense that exposure to crime creates an ineluctable propensity to crime.

Superimpose that idea, through the Joker's makeup, onto Obama's face, and you have subtly coded, highly effective racial and political argument. Forget socialism, this poster is another attempt to accomplish an association between Obama and the unpredictable, seeming danger of urban life. It is another effort to establish what failed to jell in the debate about Obama's association with Chicago radical William Ayers and the controversy over the racially charged sermons of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

Whether you love or detest Mr. Obama he should stand on his own merits. Race should have nothing to do with it. His detractors recognize this, why can't his supporters.

The rest is here.

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