|Then-Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (R)|
Giving POTUS Some Love
Did you hear that Patrick Rushing, the Mayor of Airway Heights, Washington, reportedly called President Obama “Monkey Man” and First Lady Michelle Obama “Gorilla Face” the other day? The city council is appalled. The police chief is appalled. Many of his constituents are appalled. He refuses to step down, though, in spite of threatened sanctions from fellow city officials.
I don’t get it.
I’m not the most evolved or enlightened man on the planet. I’ve made mistakes, some little and some not-so-little, and I haven’t always kept my mouth shut when I should have. I've been known to slip and spread more hate than love. Sometimes we all say and do things that we later regret. (Just ask my two ex-wives.) But many – though not all – of my transgressions can be attributed in part to alcohol consumption. I doubt Mayor Rushing was drunk when he typed over 70 racist and derogatory posts on his Facebook page. And the men and women who leave hateful, caustic, ignorant, offensive comments online under YouTube videos and newspaper articles can’t all be drunk. Some of the opinions they express must really be what they believe. And that’s as depressing as finding out that your wife is leaving you or your winning lottery ticket is a practical joke.
I watched the Democratic National Convention on television last week. (I also watched portions of the Republican National Convention but I’ve successfully repressed the hatred, ugliness and vitriol that sullied Cleveland.) There were two moments in particular that I thought were nothing short of fantastic. One was when the Reverend William Barber II of North Carolina brought the delegates to their feet with a fiery, rousing speech that will hopefully be long remembered. Reverend Barber is my kind of Christian.
|Captain Humayun Khan|
The members of the Kahn family are Muslims. Patriotic, America-loving Muslims. Mr. Kahn carries a copy of the United States Constitution in his left breast pocket (and kindly offered to loan it to Donald Trump, who clearly hasn’t read it and probably doesn’t carry a copy around in his Made-in-China suit.) The Kahns are the kind of people the GOP wants to block or deport – yet they’re perfectly fine with Ted Nugent, David Duke, Ann Coulter, Wayne LaPierre and Martin Shkreli staying where they are.
I really don’t understand that at all.
I share this clip because Hillary Clinton’s right about the Kahns. They do represent the best of this country. Not only should we not ban or expel people like this; we should recruit them to settle within our borders.
Yes, there is beauty and kindness in the world, as the Kahns prove. Yes, hundreds of people, young and old, black and white and red and yellow, have been known to line up outside of collection centers to donate blood for victims of accidents and tragedy. Yes, celebrities visit sick kids in the hospital without cameras in tow and teenagers still help old ladies across the street. But sadly, these efforts and events can leave less of an impression on us than the incidents of nastiness and evil, the moments of despair and tragedy, the times of loss and sorrow, wars and shootings and crassness and intolerance and the poor treatment of people based on how much melanin is in their skin.
But Washington D.C. became an even larger, deeper cesspool, a place of pessimism and negativity even before the inaugural flags and banners were returned to their storage cages in the White House basement. Cordiality and compromise were replaced by distrust and animosity; coarseness and invective soon became the norm. (To add insult to injury to many progressives, this President did at times seem spineless and wishy-washy, too eager to take the high road and give concessions to the enemy even before they were demanded – but that’s for another post.) Many of us wondered why things had changed so drastically and rapidly. We were afraid to conclude that it was related at all to the new president’s skin color. Hadn’t we gotten past blatant racism in the last few decades? Hadn’t ignorance been replaced, at last, with tolerance and understanding?
Here we had a man who was intelligent and eloquent, even-tempered and ambitious, someone to whom we could point with pride, someone who could string sentences together and wasn’t beset with scandal and corruption. Here was a guy whose privileged offspring didn’t stick their tongues out at the press once they were safely ensconced in the presidential limousine. President Obama didn’t make horrendously bad decisions or display embarrassing behavior. Why was he jeered by editorial writers and radio personalities and insulted by so many Americans? Why did he become Public Enemy #1 at Fox “News” when he was making things better, trying to bring us together? Why was he derided and mischaracterized for trying to do the right thing as opposed to taking orders from Cheney and Rove? Why did politics become so distasteful and unfair?
I don’t know why.
I don’t know why people despise one of the most amiable and unassuming families ever to occupy the White House. I don’t know why the President’s many achievements are downplayed and his few failures amplified. I don’t know why Michelle – who I love and want to dine with before I die – and Sasha and Malia aren’t praised now and forever for meeting the challenges of their lifestyle with class and grace. I don’t know why a man who tears up when talking about the almost inconceivable slaughter of 20 little kids in Newtown, Connecticut on December 14, 2012 is mocked and ridiculed. And I don't know why people write and say angry, hostile, nasty, ugly, groundless things in public forums.
Many historians expect the guy to go down in history as one of the most successful presidents ever. Why? Maybe because during his presidency, homicides have dropped 13 percent. Fifteen million fewer people lack health insurance. The number of long-term unemployed Americans has dropped by 614,000; the economy has added more than nine million jobs and the jobless rate has dropped to below the historical median. Corporate profits are up 166 percent; real weekly wages are up 3.4 percent. Wind and solar power now account for more than five percent of U.S. electricity.
There were 229,078 fewer violent crimes in the U.S. in 2014 than in 2008, a drop of 16 percent, according to the FBI. The Dow Jones, GDP and Consumer Confidence are up. Gas prices, the number of oil barrels imported, the teen pregnancy rate and the number of prisoners at Guantanamo are down. Marriage equality is the law of the land and this administration convinced Iran to give up 22,000 pounds of uranium without firing a single shot. The Obamas are even great with kids.
What the f*ck is Trump talking about when he says, “Make America Great Again” anyway?
The many photos that accompany this post notwithstanding, it’s not a fawning fan letter to POTUS. I’m not pleased with his use of drones, his reaction to the crisis in Syria and his refusal or inability to reduce the obscene amount of funding that gets swallowed up by the military-industrial complex each year. I’m disgusted that he’s chosen to continue our long tradition of kissing Israel’s ass and decided to remain silent when that nation unjustifiably went to war with Palestine in 2014. (More than 2,250 Palestinians were killed, including 551 children, and 11,000 were injured; 18,000 homes were destroyed.) I think it was wrong of the Nobel Committee to honor him in 2009 when he hadn’t earned it – and in fact failed to end the Iraq War for years in direct violation of a campaign promise. And I didn’t like the timing of his endorsement of Hillary Clinton as his successor; Bernie Sanders was still in the thick of things and I thought the President’s announcement was premature.
But I don’t think he’s earned a quarter of the resentment and loathing that he’s engendered. (Republicans were probably tickled pink that he was re-elected in 2012 so they would have four more years in which to do nothing and then blame it on him.) I sure hope the awful online detritus I stumble upon regularly is the desperate ranting and raving of a dying minority, the exorcising of demons, the tough talk of keyboard warriors who live in their parents’ basements and have nothing better to do than rail at those who they’ll never meet, know or be. Because if a significant number of Americans actually believe even a little of what I’ve read and heard, then the world we leave our children will be more deeply flawed and dysfunctional than Sarah Palin’s family or Jim Jones’ church camp. (Not hatred, y’all. Just a joke.)
We’re all neighbors on this Blue Marble. All of us bleed red blood and cry when we’re sad. Together, as they repeated again and again at the Democratic convention, we’re stronger, happier and better than when we’re alone. Why don’t we all send the kind of good energy into the universe that Khizr and Ghazala Khan sent out last Thursday night?
Rest in peace, Captain Khan. Thank you for your service and sacrifice.
P.S. As my Facebook pals know, I’ve unfriended and been unfriended a lot during this campaign season. This includes people I know in real life, people with whom I’ve worked, played and communicated for years. I’m counting on the hatred and ugliness that have taken over the Land of Lord Zuckerberg to subside and our friends lists to stabilize once voters have banished Donald Trump to his Manhattan penthouse.
P.P.S. Right after I finished writing this and signed into Facebook, I ran across this clip of a choir singing Bruno Mars' “Just the Way You Are” to a woman with MS whose husband organized it as an anniversary gift. Thanks, Deb. I needed this.
Note: I was just informed that Mayor Rushing resigned a year ago after a vote of no confidence by the city council. Apparently, the story has been resurrected. The hateful online comments and Donald Trump's arrogant cluelessness are current.
Sources: Politico.com, ThinkProgress.org, Occupy Democrats, Huffington Post, Heavy.com, UNOCHA, FactCheck.org, Buzzfeed.com, Seeking Alpha, DemocraticUnderground.com, Centre for Research on Globalization.