Saturday, September 12, 2009

Hoping that Joe Wilson's blurt will unleash President Obama's inner black man.

A good friend of many often humorously quips that people have a moral obligation to live up to their cultural stereotypes. In that light, he believes that Irish should be able to hold their alcohol, Asians should be good at math and science, and Jews should be good with money.

African Americans have their own unique perspective, having made it through forced slavery, Jim Crow, and finally, a belated acceptance into the American Dream. Their culture is more dynamic, heterogeneous and diverse then most ethnic groups, though not any less forceful. It provides them a unique understanding of the force of federal power, and empathy for the disenfranchised.

One reason I supported Barack Obama was his background; though in the interest of full disclosure, based on the aggressive prodding of my wife, my 9 year old daughter, among other, I voted for Hilary in the Minnesota Caucus. I was hoping that his life experiences as a black man would give him a unique prospective in leading what is truly a multi-racial nation. He was approximately my age, and I had insight on his life experiences, due to may college roommate, an African-American engineering student from Edina, MN. For despite his success, in and out of the classroom, there were still little symbols of institutional racism; such as the times the police had to talk to his date, as a black man was seen walking into our place with a white woman.

My reason for my belief that Obama's life experiences as a black man would make him a better President is not only humanitarian, but also economic. After all, in a flat world, cultural diversity, empathy and adaptability is as crucial to remaining competitive as tariffs. A multi-racial President that understood what it is like be an outsider, both here and abroad, gave him a unique prospective on the challenges that American businesses face in the ever changing world. Moreover, unleashing the power of all Americans is essential in competing in the international economy--we don't compete against each other, but with people thousands of miles away.

Americans embraced this non-traditional candidate with a non-traditional name, and elected him with over 53% of the vote, showing we truly live in a post-racial nation. That being said, it doesn't prove that pockets of residual racism doesn't exist. President Obama must have taken this election as a huge obligation, with a real desire to show that he could and would be the President of all America; even the America that did not believe that a Black man would or should hold the prestigious office as President.

If the Birthers haven't proven this strategy flawed, if the Right Wing talk show hosts, who protested his speaking to school children(about such controversial topics as being good, and working hard) didn't prove this strategy wrong, I really hope that Congressman Joe Wilson's unprecedented shout of "you lie" during Wednesdays speech will finally prove to him that a group of people exist that he will not sway, regardless of his good intentions, and oratory skills.

Mr. President. Over 60% of Americans support this President. Of the remaining 40%, a majority of them sincerely disagree with his proposed policies, and are an important check against your power. With regard to the remaining minority, such as Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Joe Wilson, and their sycophantic supporters, I different strategy is required.

First, ignore them. Let them eat air time on cable television and radio exercising their free speech rights, but DO NOT allow them to impact the national debate. Don't respond to them, mention them, or give them any encouragement for their irrational, angry, and untruthful rhetoric.

But turning the other cheek will not be sufficient to win this battle. You are the President of the United States, and the Democrats control both houses of Congress. As such, please do what Marcellus Wallace did to the racists in Pulp Fiction, please go"medieval on their ass." Not by responding to their anger, but by passing your agenda, without their input. By standing up for the weaker among us without regard to the bullies who would maintain the status quo.

I believe we have reaching a tipping point in this argument. The President's response to the comment was encouraging; as the clip in my previous post shows. His jaw went stiff and his eyes went sharp. This was not the cool, calm President, who seems to enter every fight by walking straight into the middle, head up, arms down, looking to diffuse not engage. This was a man who had seen this before. Despite being the smartest man in his college class, he had been treated like this. Despite his Harvard law degree, he had been treated like this. Now, despite being the President of the United States, leader of the free world, a marginal Congressman from a small state has shown what he really thought of him. I hope he wakes up with anger and I hope he uses that anger to positive ends. I hope Joe Wilson has unleashed Barack Obama's inner black man.

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