*I’m not here to defend President Obama, because as I pointed out in previous articles, I have an issue or two with some of his policies myself, just like I’ve had with EVERY White president. But I think we owe this brother the benefit of the doubt. He’s plagued with enough problems in having to deal with world affairs and our domestic crisis, while at the same time, having to fight off racist Republicans and envious, self-serving turncoats like Tavis Smiley and Cornel West. So we shouldn’t add yet another problem to his plate by forcing him to have to worry about whether he has the support of his own people.
To be quite frank, I think there are only two kinds of people in this world – good people, and bad people. In addition, I believe the battle over race was a part of the last war. Those who are enlightened recognize that the current battle is over class, because the current powers that be don’t care any more about poor and middle-class White folks than they do Black people. Most White people recognize that fact. That’s why Obama is president. So while I often write about what’s in the best interest of the Black community as a whole, I rarely make race a part of my personal political calculations.
But I consider the presidency of Barack Obama a unique situation, and what we’ve been watching with respect to many Black Obama critics should be regarded as a teaching moment, because it represents a cultural dysfunction that’s been played out thousands of times over the past four hundred years. Many of us have heard stories about Black self-hatred all of our lives, but due to President Obama’s high profile we now have the opportunity, as an entire culture, to see it being played out in all of its ugliness for the very first time.
But of course, there are going to be a few of Obama’s critics who are going to ask, “What are you saying, that Obama should be above criticism just because he’s Black?” Of course not, and the people who pose such a ridiculous question know that’s not what I’m saying before they even ask it. But just asking such a disingenuous question should also serve as a teaching moment – it shows the extraordinary lengths that such people will go to mask their“bligotry.”
Questioning President Obama’s policies is not the problem – it’s the mean-spirited way in which it’s being done. In fact, Black haters are not merely questioning Obama’s policies at all. More often than not these people are simply using policy differences as a pretext for making slanderous assertions about the president’s character as a whole – he’s a “war criminal,” “a black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs and a black puppet of corporate plutocrats,” “a Rockefeller Republican in Blackface,” and even, “He has a certainrootlessness, a deracination” [WHAT!!!?]. Notice that three out of the four slanders are racial in nature, and these quotes are from just one man – Cornel West.
None of the criticisms above were legitimate attempts to address the president’s public policies. They were racial slanders, clear and simple. That clearly demonstrates that many Black Obama-haters are not nearly as interested in addressing public policy as they are in attacking the man himself. These slanders also demonstrate that their allegation that people who object to their criticism are merely Obama cheerleaders. That’s not true – what we’re against is what we’ve always been against – racist attacks.
But even those haters who have the good sense to refrain from blatant, racist attacks often make themselves known by going over the top in their allegations regarding policy. They’ll often say things like, “Obama is a part of the machine.” But since we’re not privy to the information that Obama is basing his decisions upon, nor his motives for making any given decision, any allegation being made about him being a part of any “machine” are wholly without supporting substantiation at best. Critics who suggest this are merely commenting on what things LOOK like to their jaundiced eye – or what they’re trying to convince you tothink they look like – without having a shred of evidence to support their views. Their allegations have no more basis in fact than that of the birthers.
The reality is, being the first Black President of the United States, Obama can’t approach the nation’s problems in the same way that they were approached by his White predecessors. In many cases he has to take a circuitous approach to addressing issues in order to prevent the GOP from mischaracterizing his efforts with their very special kind of malevolent spin. Thus, the way that things may look, may not always be what they seem. So anyone who would lend comfort to the most steadfast enemies of the Black community by helping to drag this Black man through the mud is on what my good friend, Playthell Benjamin, would call, a fool’s errand.
There were people in the Tea Party who were consistently calling Obama a terrorist sympathizer, right up until he brought Osama Bin Laden’s head home in a bag. Bush spent nearly eight years and close to a trillion dollars trying to pull that off with no success, but Obama did it with three helicopters and a handful of courageous men, without busting a sweat bubble – and he did it while America thought he was just kickin’ it.
So this brother ain’t no punk, and he’s not the kind of person we should second guess without very good cause. So yes, I think everyone in the Black community should get behind this brother – period. If we have a comment on policy, we should voice our concern, but we should do it politely, and very respectfully. Because while Obama is, and should be, the president of ALL of America, he is also the most high profile representative of the Black community in the entire world. So to be disrespectful of him, is to be disrespectful of us; and his success, is our success.
With regard to Cornel West, I can only say this – any Black man who tries to publicly engage in the Dozens against the first Black President of the United States cannot be regarded as a serious intellectual. He deserves very close scrutiny, because his behavior is not only disrespectful of the president, but it betrays a gross disdain for the Black community as a whole. So he can say whatever he likes about his motives, but his behavior lends comfort to the most dedicated enemies of the Black community. Thus, the issue is not even debatable – the stupidity he’s engaged in amounts to tap dancing for the Klan
Eric L. Wattree is a writer, poet, and musician, born in Los Angeles. He’s a columnist for The Los Angeles Sentinel, Black Star News, The Atlanta Post, and several other publications. He’s also a staff writer for Veterans Today and the author of “A Message From the Hood.
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