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Obama and them

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Every now and then it is good for one’s own state of mind to take one’s thoughts away from this cesspool that is being rapidly filled with garbage from the silly season. The season is becoming sillier and sillier and is more accommodating to profanities than reasoned argument, since many seemed to have dumped their decency and commonsense. This week I want to reflect a bit on the insane parade that is meant to tarnish Barrack Obama’s presidency and by extension further degrade black people. Having a black president has driven some of them stone mad! Sarah Palin virtually says so.{{more}} In a recent interview she lamented the fact that a century and a half after the abolition of slavery we have a black president. Then with changes to the immigration laws possibly a Hispanic president. Unthinkable! Incredibly she is taken seriously in some quarters!

Then comes Rudy Guiliani, former mayor of New York whom 911 rescued from political oblivion. He is missing the spotlight and is trying to recapture it with outrageous statements. Obama does not love America, he declares! He tells the audience at a private dinner for the Wisconsin governor that Obama ‘wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up’. He is suffering from the typical politician’s illness, that is, the inability to know when his time is up. But he has the support of many Americans, the Obama bashers. Imagine there are still those who claim that Obama was not born in the US and that he is a Muslim and apparently antichrist.

I always figured that a large part of the problem was Michelle. Seeing her at the White House still sends to them red flags and signals that the end of the World is near. At the back of my mind is Mitt Romney’s concession speech where he told his audience that Ann, his wife, would have made a good First Lady. Michelle Obama obviously doesn’t fit the profile of whom they want to see there. Her colour and that of her husband is continuing to haunt many Americans, mainly but not only Republicans. Within hours of his election a plot was hatched to make his life miserable and to ensure that he couldn’t succeed. The disrespect shown to him would never be shown to a white president. Do we remember at his State of the Union address when someone shouted ‘liar’? The recent trip of the Israeli Prime Minister to address the US Congress, done unilaterally without consulting the White House as is the norm, is another demonstration of this.

Obama has experienced perhaps what no other president has. The invasion of Iraq to get rid of Saddam Hussein has set in train a process that is still playing itself out. All of this has spawned Al Qaeda and ISIS but they are blaming Obama. He has been trying to bring some decency to American foreign policy, in the process driving the hawks crazy. America is to a large extent about military power. The world was simpler before Obama. The Muslims were the enemies, as easily seen as black and white. Here is a president reminding them of the crusades and trying to let them know that they should not force all these people into one corner. Left to some members of Congress they would have given the green light to Israel to attack Iran with their support, creating even more mess in the Middle East.

Obama is taking the only sensible approach given the tensions and disarray that have now engulfed the region. He is trying to come to an agreement with Iran to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. Israel cannot risk any competition. They want to be in a position to invade Palestine at will, to take over their land with very little opposition from their big brother who provides them with military hardware and financing. The invitation for Netanyahu to address the Congress was meant to embarrass the president and to drum up support for an attack on Iran. It might just be backfiring for it has broken the almost unanimous support that always came from Congress and the White House, Democrats and Republicans alike.

Breaking that bond might be a good thing, for the US has with very little compunction been nodding approval to Israel’s misadventures. Obama’s unwillingness to simply go along is drawing criticisms from the Israeli hierarchy and Republican hawks. Their main solution to problems in that part of the world is to use military might. The world is however changing. China is threatening the financial might of America. The invasion of Iraq has taxed the finances of the US and is to a large extent responsible for the financial mess in which that country found itself.

Although periods of warfare in Iraq and Libya seemed to have softened the American people’s appetite for war, the misguided members of Congress seem hell bent on doing what America has always done, gone in with fire power. With all of these problems there are those Afro-Americans who refuse to support the president on the grounds that he has not done enough for black people. How short sighted! The man is president of the US, not president of ‘black America’. With the rampant racism in America and all the foolishness said about him, he has to tread carefully because he can never be sure of support even from his own democratic base. Really American presidents do not have as much power as we assume and appear not to have the hold over Congress that prime ministers have over their cabinets and legislatures. After Obama perhaps America will learn to live with itself. They might even get tired of their bloodletting!

Dr Adrian Fraser is a social commentator and historian.

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