Pride, Prejudice and Presidents

     Recently the President of the United States embarked on a multi-country tour of the African continent.  Africa has become, in recent years, the most fertile ground for economic growth in the world.  Its various countries, some long mired in bloody civil strife, are now emerging into stable governments, and its people are seeking the various products that will improve their economny and, hopefully, their lives.  The President is taking his family along, and he is subjecting them to a grueling schedule of meetings and public events.  The nations on his schedule are all wildly excited about his arrival, because, among many other reasons, the President’s father was an African, born and raised in Kenya.  The United States faces extremely stiff competition, particularly from China, for the business opportunities that Afica has to offer, so the President’s tour will clearly give the United States’ economic interests a huge boost by his presence there.

     It was, therefore, sad beyond measure to face two items in my local newspaper, the decidedly conservative Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, about this trip.  The first was a cartoon published by the Journal criticizing the President for travelling to Africa after claiming that climate change was the global threat of our time.  That is just the Journal being the right wing rag that it is.  Far worse was a letter from a suburban woman criticizing Obama for “traveling all over the world”, with his wife no less, and suggesting that this was “vacation time that’s being funded by the taxpayers”. 

     I can understand that this person is completely ignorant of how important to the American economy this trip is.  What utterly galls me is that this President has worked harder than any president in recent memory.  The last president, Bush 43, set a record that will likely never be broken for the amount of vacation time he took.  That vacation time included the morning in August of 2001, when he ignored a specific FBI warning that Al Qaeda was planning an attack on American soil using commercial airlines.  Yet not a peep of ccriticism did we hear.  Yet President Obama takes a grueling public relations trip to Africa, and he is criticized and even ridiculed.

     Here’s a question:  Why?  Well, I suppose that the suburban woman is a Republican, and she is just following the current Republican tactic of rejecting out of hand anything done by someone not of her persuasion.  I suppose we could say the same thing of the right wing Journal. 

     That, however, is being far too kind to both the lady and the paper.  Such ignorance is not only not excusable, particularly for the supposedly well-informed editors of a newspaper.  It tramples reason.  I would hazard a guess that President Obama’s trip has the potential to contribute billions of dollars and many, many thousands of jobs to the American economy.  It would take an idiot to ignore that point.

     Or, it would take a bigot.  It is time to stop tiptoeing around the issue, because it has for far too long been wrecking the political and social atmosphere of this country.  The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and a whole bunch of papers like it, and the suburban woman and a whole bunch of people like her, have been slamming the President becuase he is an African American and they are bigots.  They don’t like the fact that an African-American is the President of the United States.  They so dislike that fact that they are willing to seriously damage the social and political atmosphere of the United States to make sure that this African-American does not succeed. 

     There.  There it is.  I am sick and tired of the bigotry that persists everywehre including my own community.  Far more important, this country can no longer afford to base political and social policy and strategy on race.  I am sick and tired of having to endure the racist jokes at the country club and the snide racist comments at the cocktail parties.  I am sick and tired of having to apologize to friends and clients of a different race or a different gender or a different religion who are subjected to insult and mistreatment at the hands of white-faced hatemongers.  Stop it.  Stop it.  Stop it.  Hatred sucks, and it is one of those weapons that hurts most of all the person that yields it.  Stop it.


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