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Its hard to be a person of color in the United States.
Some of you will find the above statement incredibly banal. I know I do. To me, saying that racism is still alive is just like saying that the sky is blue or that water is wet. But like stating that George W. Bush lied us into the Iraq War even the most banal statements are true and they need to be repeated at the top of your lungs from the highest mountain.
Its hard to be a person of color in the United States.
What makes it hard? Obviously racism comes in different forms, from violence to silent discrimination. It can come in a cold stare, in an off the cuff joke, or in just a word, but fundamentally what it all boils down to is respect. Jesus Christ once summed up inter-personal relations by saying, Do unto others what you would have them do unto you. Just show people the same respect youd like and everything will be all good. Yet in America we still have a deep seated disrespect towards people of color that pervades everything. Usually this disrespect is under the table, hidden from the rest of the world, in the backrooms, the smoke filled dens, but occasionally it works its way to the light. And when it does it seems to find itself under the spotlight of the Republican Party.
A disclaimer before I begin: Am I saying that Democrats arent racist? No. Am I saying that racism doesnt present itself in more virulent forms in groups other than the GOP? No. But, of the so-called mainstream political parties in America today, there is a swiftly amassing collection of evidence that the Republicans are a party of, to put it lightly, racist tendencies that are unabashed and proud.
The GOP claims to be the party of Lincoln, hiding under the Emancipators coattails every time they want to flash their civil rights credentials, but since LBJ signed the Civil Rights Act it seems that the worst elements of prejudice have fled to the Republicans who welcomed them with open arms. No more the party of Lincoln, the GOP is the party of Strom Thurmond, who ran for president on a platform of racial segregation, and Trent Lott, who on Thurmonds one hundredth birthday said that America would be a better place if Thurmond had of been elected. The GOP is the party of Jesse Helms, who after dying months ago was regaled by the GOP as a bastion of the party. This was a man who was a raging homophobe and racist. This is party that called poor black mothers Welfare Queens, and who used fear of black males to win elections.
And all this brings us to the 2008 Republican National Convention, which should now and forever be known as the 2008 Republican Disrespect Convention. What was on parade in the last three days was some of the vilest and most insulting rhetoric ever seen on the national political stage. Time and time again Obama was dragged through the mud of condensation and sarcasm. When they werent calling him uppity they were attacking him as an elitist and when they werent saying he lacked experience they claimed what experience he had didnt matter. According to Sarah Palin, I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a community organizer, except that you have actual responsibilities. According to Rudy Giuliani, Obamas biography should be mocked as he sneered in the tone reserved for Don King, Only in America.
Now compare that to the Democratic Convention. Sure there were some red meat attacks. Sure they tied McCain to Bush, and yes they even made fun of the fact that McCain didnt know how many houses he had. But when they spoke of McCains character they praised him for his service to America and his time as a POW, even when liberals said to keep their traps shut about it. They showed decency and, more importantly, respect. Yet is seems that the entire Republican party is incapable of showing Obama even a modicum of value and I cant help thinking that much of this, if not all, is fueled by racism.
Its not to say that McCain has much of a choice at this point. The Titanic had more hope than the GOP at this moment (hey, at least the ship had lifeboats). Hes got to swing for the rafters and hope that he can tear down Obama enough to get ahead, but in this case he cant see the forest for the trees, and to win an election hes ready to alienate every person of color in this country to motivate his base, and I think we know who they are.
But I have a sense, and its only a feeling, that this time it wont work. This time the character of the candidates, their intelligence, and their visions are just so unbalanced that the choice is becoming more and more obvious. I have a feeling that after eight years of the most incompetent, ignorant and downright delusional leadership in American history, people are fed up with the same old shit, and Lord knows, racism is the epitome of the same old shit. And finally I dont think it will work because their complete disrespect for Obama flies in the face of truth. Recently I saw a press conference with Paul Azinger, whos leading the Ryder Cup for America this year. When asked about the absence of Tiger Woods from his roster he said, and I paraphrase slightly, Its going to be hard not to have what is disputably the best player on Earth on your wait, I mean its hard not to have the best player on Earth today, disputably the best player ever My father once told me that youre not given respect; you earn respect through your achievements. What Azinger admitted was not given to Tiger willingly; it was earned through Tigers championships and his play, and in his respect for that, we respect Azinger for speaking the truth. Respect gains respect. So when the GOP dismisses Obamas accomplishments we dismiss them.
As a black man in America Im disgusted with the GOP. Their disrespect of Obama is a direct diss to me, to my family and to my people who have struggled under unfathomable oppression to get to where we are now. John McCain, you want us to respect and admire your years as a POW? Well then you better start respecting and admiring the people of color who existed generations under the terror and torture of white oppression. Respect gains respect Senator and you have given me none.
The Wolf runs a blog on political matters at www.wordofthepeople.blogspot.com. His first novel, The Intellectual Prostitute, will be dropping as soon as he can find a publisher.
In the interest of fairplay and objectivity, if anyone would like to make the case for John McCain and the Republican view, please submit editorial pieces to firstname.lastname@example.org