Monday, September 14, 2009

Everybody Hurts

Sometimes, I want to blog about all the racial antagonism going on around us, poisoning the hearts and minds of wide swaths of the nation, leading us down a very frightening path. Most of the time, I just get too depressed by it all, and settle for reading opinions and prognostications by other people instead.

Consider South Carolina congressman Joe Wilson yelling "You lie!" during President Barack Obama's health care speech last Wednesday evening. I mean, seriously. Could you show a little decorum? Obama was so passionate and on point in that speech, and all I could think was, he doesn't need a health care plan. He and his family have all the health care they will ever need. He's not doing this for himself. He's doing this for us. He could just bide his time, take the path of least resistance, keep himself safe. But he believes in this. And the idiots in Joe Wilson's camp, who show up at the town halls about health care packing pistols and parading signs that show Barack with a Hitler mustache, or with a bone through his nose, or painted like the Joker, they are the ones, ironically, who will benefit the most from reform.

But they'd rather bleed than accept the best intentions of our president, for no apparent reason other than the fact that he's Black. This is a sentiment that the Republican leaders have zeroed in on; this is the stage on which they are plotting their political resurgence. Dangerous. And sad.

Then there are the 10,000 people who descended on the Capitol this weekend, intent on opposing anything the president might have on his agenda. Glenn Beck and the 9/12 movement, whose members hoisted signs that carried such murderous slogans as, "Barack, we didn't bring our guns. THIS time." Ugh.

And there's the equally depressing view from the other side: Serena Williams losing it at the end of her match this weekend, when the line judge made a bogus call. Her foot was not on the line. But she lost her cool, really, really lost it, dropping the f-word and threatening to shove the tennis ball down the line judge's throat. Serena should know better. She should know that when John McEnroe exhibits that kind of behavior, he's just being John, a little boy stamping his feet, as in "Oh, isn't that John McEnroe just too much." But when Serena behaves that way, she's an angry, scary Black woman. I make no excuses for Serena. Yes, she was robbed. But this is America, and after she was robbed, she helped them nullify her game.

All the same, I did note that prior to that ugly episode, it seemed that almost the entire audience at U.S. Open was rooting for the (White) Belgian over the (Black) American. What's up with that? (Rhetorical question.)

Of course, Kanye West's antics at the Video Music Awards last night didn't do anyone any favors, not when he snatched that mike out of Taylor Swift's hands to opine that Beyonce's video "Single Ladies" should have won. And even if it had been the best video of all time as Kanye seemed to believe, fact was Taylor had won the category for "You Belong With Me" and was in the middle of her acceptance speech. Could Kanye have exhibited any less grace? Epic fail, Kanye. Everybody loses.

To his credit, Kanye fell emotionally silent on Jay Leno last night when asked what his late mother would have said about his VMA performance. I liked that he knew his mom would have expected better.


  1. What a beautifully worded post.

    My first reaction to Joe Wilson's rude and inappropriate behavior was to get pissed. I adore President Obama in a way that I have never felt about a president before, even the ones I liked: I feel like Barack Obama is my HERO. But when I thought about it, I started to get worried that maybe a bad precedent was set during President Bush's recent two terms, particularly the last one. A lot of disrespectful behavior was directed towards him, and frankly, I enjoyed all of it. Does that make me a hypocrite to be so offended now? Was I (in a tiny way) a part of a general acceptance of a rude attitude of disrespect towards the office of the President of the United States? I have a sneaking suspicion that if this had happened to President Bush, I might have been cheering.

    You know, with the Kanye thing, I didn't think it was a racial issue, I thought it was a Kanye-is-a-big-selfish-butthole issue. I think I'd be just as appalled if it had been Chris Brown instead of Taylor Swift. What a jerk.

    Okay, maybe Chris Brown was a bad example...

  2. ellen, interesting point about the general disrespect shown to Bush, and yes, I probably would not have been as offended had the same thing happened during one of his speeches before Congress (though it never did in that particular forum). I guess what bothers me more about the disrespect being directed at Obama from certain factions is the undertone of violent intent, and the fact that his opponents are being whipped into a racial frenzy. I never sensed that undertone of violence toward Bush from his U.S. antagonists.

    And I totally agree with you. Kanye's VMA spectacle was not about race. It was just Kanye behaving badly! I heard just now that he was drunk. Which excuses nothing.

    Thanks for the comment! How are you doing?


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