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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Obama and the Really Real America

Let us begin with the statements:

There were real questions whether President Obama would directly speak to either of these situations. Given the profound sickness and ugliness of the right wing in this moment of their hysterical recognition of the imminent rejection of their failed guiding assumptions and the demographic marginalization of their effective coalition, it has come to be the case that any situation the President involves himself in tends to be attended by a loud and profound and, frankly, truly crazy polarization that exacerbates whatever pain already freights the situation for those most personally involved in it, while at the same time also often utterly deranging the terms in which the situation is being discussed and dealt with to the detriment of a sensible resolution of its problems.

And so, even those of us who would take the side of a courageous truth-teller or of a victim of a hate-crime and would like to look to a President we believe to be on our side to take a public stand with us, to lend the weight of the Executive to our righteous cause, the truth is we also have come to dread what might come of a public registration of sympathy and support, come to dread the way in which a kind and commonsense declaration from President Obama seems to be like an incantation opening a Hellmouth of the most surreal horrific white racist woman hating queer bashing war mongering know nothing intolerant bigotry, making everything seem worse and more hopeless.

I will admit that before I actually heard President Obama speak out in support of Sandra Fluke and Treyvon Martin I would probably have said –- had I actually thought about it enough to put it into words –- that I would just as soon not hear him say anything at all, that whatever he said could do little good and could so easily make things even worse. But I must say that I am thrilled now that President Obama spoke out in both cases. I am happy that he said what he said. I am impressed by the deftness and dignity he brought to both occasions. And I am glad that in neither case has the President's comment been the occasion for quite the horror show I had feared, although, of course, there has been some appalling ugliness, from the usual suspects, the Rushes and the Becks and so on. Still, I think it is worth pondering why it is that the hurricane of hate I expected to demoralize and paralyze and drown out the righteous defenders of women's health and demanders of justice for Treyvon Martin did not visit itself upon the nation as I had feared.

I have already said that the ugly polarizing hate-speech that tends to attach on the right to the President's utterances is a symptom of the intense distress of the right's correct diagnosis that they have lost the culture wars (about which more here and here) in a wholesomely secularizing, diversifying, planetizing America, and that the deregulatory, privatizing, anti-tax experiments implemented by their movement have failed the test of reality. I think that the President's statements about Sandra Fluke and Treyvon Martin -- in both cases framed from his position as a parent, in both cases framed as matters of common decency about which he assumes most people agree with him rather than solicits their agreement -– reflect the flip side of that right wing distress, the comfort of a liberal in an actually like-minded fair-minded secular multiculture more on his side than not.

It is easy to see the defensive hysteria that drives dot-eyed Republican bigots to declare themselves "Real Americans," but it is feels less familiar and a little new still to observe our President speak as and to the reality of Really Real Americans the Republicans are so terrified of and hostile to. But as we see support for queer folks rocketing up, and support for the GOP plummeting among Hispanics and women, among many other indicators, we must realize –- as I believe the President has done and is confidently and gracefully attesting to in statements like these –- that what has been a turning tide toward sanity, sustainability, and fairness, is becoming instead a tipping point, an unprecedented occasion for radical change for the better.


Anonymous said...

Do the facts of the case matter ? George Zimmerman is hispanic. Mother from Peru. Apparently there is a witness and physical evidence that the 6 foot 3 inch Trayvon was pummeling Zimmerman. Zimmerman was on his back.

They were in a gated mixed income housing project.

Dale Carrico said...

There are endless empirical studies demonstrating that not only white people, but people who are of "color" (including many folks who are largely considered "white" now but in the past have not always been, for example, Irish, Polish, and Italian Americans), indeed, even **African Americans themselves** are likely to act on the basis of some inaccurate irrational racist biases against African Americans.

Racism can be, but rarely most interestingly or most impactfully is, a matter of conscious irrational vitriol. Racist bias looks to have both attitudinal and structural features in this case (not only when it comes to Zimmerman but also in the conduct and documented history of the police department).

By the way, for someone concerned with "facts" it should presumably matter to you who was chasing whom, who was armed and who was not, who had a long history of vigilantism inflected through racism suspicion, and who is dead and who remains free? How about it, brave, "Anonymous"?