Saturday, March 22, 2008

Gramma Gets the Hammer

"It's a political move; he was in free fall in the polls."--D
"Well, what can one say of someone who would do that?"--C
"That he's the kind of guy who'd sell out his own grandmother for political gain?"--D



I haven't gotten on my high horse about anything on this blog in quite a while. I haven't had the time to trawl news sources for things that get my dander up, and I really haven't had the inclination. It's much more entertaining to find the ridiculous and laugh at it than it is to lose one's temper over ugliness beyond one's control, anyway.

Well, the time has come. I'm saddlin' up.

I, along with what seems to be an awful lot of conservative writers great and small, have a bee in my bonnet about the Barak Obama saga currently playing out in the news. My bee doesn't seem to be tickling nearly as many ears as some of the more outrageous aspects of the story, though.

Oh, I've gotten the overview of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's hate speech (I haven't watched the Youtubes, by the way--they crash my computer.) And I am quite convinced that it is hate speech. Applying the reversal test to some of his statements (i.e., what if a conservative white preacher were caught on tape talking like that, particularly if nonwhites were the target of his wrath?) should disabuse any thinking person of the delusion that it isn't. On NPR, I even heard the argument that the Rev. Jeremiah's remarks amount to a twentieth-century Jeremiad. If that's the case, does it make Fred Phelps the Ezekiel of our time? Should we heretofore address Pat Robertson as "Hosea?"

Obama's part in the whole matter is something else, entirely. If anyone cares to read ten random posts of mine on this blog, it should be patently obvious that my politics are not his. I wasn't going to vote for him anyway, even before his church affiliation became an issue. I doubt, moreover, that many among those who think him the greatest thing since JFK will defect over this; those whose thoughts I've read seem to consider his much-touted speech on the matter a masterstroke. I think it's a bit of an obvious dodge, myself. (I have read it all, by the way--but again, no Youtube.)

Either Obama worshipped under the Rev's tutelage for years, having found him a kindred spirit, or he joined the church--and became a major contributor--because the membership was somehow expedient. In the latter case, it's entirely plausible that Obama's church attendance was infrequent enough that he was unaware of some of his pastor's nuttier views (although who gives $20,000 to an organization they don't know inside and out?) But that possibility also raises problems. He presumably joined a church, as most Americans do, because he agreed with the things that were being preached there. That church claimed Christianity while ignoring some of Christianity's most fundamental tenets (love thy enemy notable among them) and preached a profound racially-based hatred of the country that enabled its existance. Thus Obama would have to be presumed a radical racist and probably a less-than-ideal choice for leader of a large heterogenous nation. Alternatively, he joined the church for the networking possibilities, or the ready-made political infrastructure, or the image enhancement that accompanies churchgoing in these United States; attended infrequently; paid little attention while there. That would indicate he is merely an opportunistic religious hypocrite. Neither option denotes a man who ought to be vested with the degree of power inherent in the U. S. Presidency.

But none of these matters are what drove me to the keyboard. What did was this remark:

"I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother - a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe."

If this isn't the first time since beginning his run that Obama has mentioned his white grandmother, it's certainly the first time the media have taken much notice of it. And what does he do? He publicly disses her. An 86-year-old woman. The 86-year-old woman who raised him from the age of ten to adulthood, I might add; who took the trouble to ensure he got the top-notch education that likely launched his subsequent endeavors. He does this on hazy enough information to boot: it's unclear whether Grandma is afraid of all black men who pass her, or only certain ones who appear treatening or thuggish. It's likewise unclear whether certain white men produce the same effect. As for "stereotypes," in the absence of examples it's impossible to determine whether Obama refers to malicious slurs or minor faux pas.

Sure, old folks can be crotchety at times, and people from his grandmother's generation weren't necessarily as racially enlightened as we all like to think we are today. But what kind of adult makes a woman in her declining years the new national poster child for subliminal white racism? What sort of person publicly humiliates an old lady for occasional lapses in decorum? Furthermore, what sort of absolutist sanctimonious jerk equates privately-shared ignorant remarks his grandmother seems to have occasionally let slip with the sort of rhetoric Rev. Wright delivered publicly from the pulpit on a regular basis?

Obama is only about a year or so older than the hosts of this blog. While the Hawaii he grew up in has long been more ethnically mixed (and politically and socially liberal) than the Blue Ridge Mountain towns of my youth (but probably not much more than D's northern Virginia haunts even then) I doubt that it was an entirely color-blind society in the 1970s. Interracial marriages were less common than they are today, and consequently so were biracial children. Less common too were grandparents raising children, particularly when there were parents alive and able to do so themselves. That Obama's grandmother undertook the raising of her grandson when she really didn't have to says volumes more to me about the woman's character and racial attitudes than does the knowledge that she has occasionally been taken in by a stereotype. That she almost certainly, as the guardian of a biracial grandchild, had to deal intelligently and graciously with many ignorant, mean-spirited, or downright hostile attitudes from others speaks even more highly of her.

Obama's approach to this whole matter, which has included (thus far) denial, pretended ignorance, attemts to deflect, and comparing his pastor to a crotchety uncle, strikes me as bordering on cowardice. Using his grandmother as a negative example strikes me as blatant ingratitude with a veneer of sanctimony. Self-righteous ingratitude is not unexpected (though plenty annoying) in a rebellious teenager or overconfident twentysomething. But we generally expect a 46-year-old man who has experienced some of the joys and trials of raising children of his own to have the maturity, or at least the sense of shame, to display a modicum of respect for those what brought him up.

Policy, schmolicy. Private behavior is indicative of public trustworthiness. Obama's behavior in the face of this week's revelations, the lack of respect for the hand that fed him in particular, indicates an appalling lack of character. This man should not be trusted with the presidency.

Postscript: As several days have elapsed since the speech, it stands to reason additional insights are out on the ether. D came across this post which linked to this story which included the following:

610 WIP host Angelo Cataldi asked Obama about his Tuesday morning speech on race at the National Constitution Center in which he referenced his own white grandmother and her prejudice. Obama told Cataldi that "The point I was making was not that my grandmother harbors any racial animosity, but that she is a typical white person. If she sees somebody on the street that she doesn't know (pause) there's a reaction in her that doesn't go away and it comes out in the wrong way."

Puh-leeze, Mr. Obama--somebody on the street that she doesn't know?

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3 Comments:

Blogger Foxfier, formerly Sailorette said...

THANK YOU for phrasing it so well!

6:46 PM  
Blogger CMinor said...

Thanx for the vote of confidence, foxfier. Nice to hear from you again.

12:52 PM  
Blogger Foxfier, formerly Sailorette said...

*bow* I read, but I try not to comment unless I've got something worth saying!

6:09 PM  

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