Since the first Euro-Americans set foot in North America in 1607, and until the defense of a Rodeo Clown who with the ring announcer and others did much more than simply wear an Obama mask, the issue of race, the color of skin in America, has been that elephant in the room.
It began with the settlers identifying indigenous people here as Indians or not much more than savages and on top of what the Spanish had done come almost four centuries of what can only be described as a Native-American Holocaust. Black men were brought here as slaves and bought and sold and beaten and degraded for over three centuries. They continue to struggle for what whites have by birthright.
Latinos, and Asians face the same prejudice and bigotry with distinctly ill effects.
The degree of whiteness a man has in the color of his skin was and still remains the setting of a defining bar determining the status and treatment of an individual of both genders.
Even though a White House butler displayed intelligence, tact, diplomacy and courage not to mention loyalty to the United States of America, millions marched for civil rights with Dr. King the successor to Frederick Douglass , a Civil War was fought to end slavery in America, Native-Americans are ignored despite Ely S. Parker, one of General Grant’s chief staff members who wrote out the surrender document at Appomattox, and who was a lawyer and a Seneca Chief and elder, it does not stop it.
And now, when we have a black man as President of the United States of America and he does at least an honorable and competent and intelligent job conducting the nation’s highest office a large portion of the white population in the United States just cannot handle that.
Obama Derangement Syndrome is an irrational dislike in most and outright hatred and rage in many. All presidents have a significant opposition from adherents to the other party and that can and does lead to outright disrespect for the office holder as well as the office they hold.
Yet, in the case of Barack Obama, the syndrome has continued well past his re-election to an unprecedented second term in office for a man of color and the almost hysterical hate continues. And the color of his skin-his race is the chief determinant of the disease known as Obama Derangement Syndrome.
Now it must be made perfectly clear that a large number of Obama’s opponents are not racists. They are simply political opponents who do not like what he has done as President.
But millions do display Obama Derangement Syndrome and it says so much about race in America and what it says is distinctly offensive, even ugly.
The President has had and continues after his entire first term in office and now into his second, to have his place of birth and eligibility to hold the Presidency questioned and even assumed to be illegitimate.
The State of Hawaii has provided both a short and long form and the President has himself, and yet now the official government documents showing the President to have been born in July 1960 in Honolulu, Hawaii both a United States Territory and now a State of the this Union are not accepted as credible nor valid. The Birthers will never go away and they have intensified their attacks. Obama is said to be a Kenyan national, to be a Muslim, a Socialist, National Socialist, a Communist and a Marxist all at the same time. This is quite a feat for any mere mortal human being.
Governor Paul Le Page of Maine has just complained that Obama hates white people since he has not emphasized his white ancestry enough. The truth is that the President has warmly acknowledged the influence of his mother and grandparents whose ties are to Kansas and a whiteness that is quite marked. They were Caucasians of the first order. But Obama’s skin took on a somewhat dark hue, the inheritance of his father who was indeed a Kenyan national. Barack Obama was a biracial kid who yet was identified with and received all the racism that any black man has flung at him by the dominant white population as he went off to college and law school.
Each of us will discover that what the dominant or majority population tells us we are—we are for better or worse. If you are an extremely dark skinned man or woman you will be labeled a Negro or today an African-American. And you will be treated as such.
Historically, the degree of whiteness of the skin confers upon the bearer the status of the individual. While gender, sexual orientation and economic class all factor in, nothing is as determinative of social status as is the degree of whiteness of the skin or the lack thereof.
The Trayvon Martin Case, the treatment of a black President who has recently been yelled at in Arizona as “bye, bye Black Sheep” and “die half-white nigger” seem to suggest we have a problem with accepting our skin colors. It is especially biased in that whites always have ascribed to them a higher social status no matter their lack of intelligence, their boorish behavior, and fear of someone who is different in this respect.
It is why it is so easy for some members of Congress to cut Food Stamps, and shred welfare. They perceive it to be a black thing despite the numbers that show whites use these things in far larger numbers.
It is why it is so difficult to get meaningful and humane immigration reform. The people getting help are largely non-white. They are the stranger, the foreigner, the other.
When first hearing of the Rodeo Clown incident I felt it was much too harsh to suspend the clown from his job for even this season merely for wearing a presidential mask. They’ve been sold and are the object of mimicry for every president since Nixon. But later, I learned that the Obama figure had its lips manipulated in a suggestively racial manner, he leaned on a broomstick with the handle up his ass. And the ring announcer whipped up the crowd into a lather of hate—yes that was what it was. A Klan Rally could not have done it better.
That simply is not something we ought to permit in front of an audience of the general public anywhere. The context of this Rodeo Clown incident has not been highlighted for what it is and what it represents by hundreds of right-wing talkers and media outlets who came to the defense of this bunch. Worst of all it is just not funny to anybody but an outright racial bigot of the worst kind.
The Republican Congress has shown less respect for and has obstructed and laid siege to this President more than any other Congress in the history of the United States except perhaps that which sat during portions of the Lincoln presidency.
Even that was not as bad as what President Obama has had to deal with.
A lot of white people are just too uncomfortable to discuss the question of race and how it has affected and now still affects life in the United States.
Again, this is not to say that every white person is a bigot—most are not at all. But millions are. And blackness, brownness, redness, yellowness, bothers them and makes them into hostile complaining people faster and more completely than anything else can.
They cannot think rationally with a black President guiding the ship of state, and they cannot bear to see the growing racial and ethnic diversity that permeates our social and political life. It is who we have become. But these Obama haters for lack of a better way to term it cannot move to this new place.
They remain mired back in the days prior to the American Civil War. The new Secessionists and Neo-Confederates are not the only people who are still back there. Fringe elements of the Tea Party and many Republican leaders just cannot handle it.
So they spout things that are patently untrue about the President and race in America. They essentially freak out when anyone wants to point out the elephant in the national chat room. It is not playing the race card. It is discussing how we are going to end all this affectation with the degree of whiteness someone’s skin has or lacks.
Skin color is just not a significant factor in determining the ability or character of a human being anywhere on this Earth. Black or brown or yellow or red racial superiority is also insignificant. The multi-century supposition that makes all people of color inferior beings just won’t cut it anymore with a majority of Americans. Nor does it with the majority of humans who are not white Caucasian now occupying this planet. Most significantly, it is because that supposition is just not true and never has been.
Those people suffering to various degrees from Obama Derangement Syndrome need professional help and a hard look at their very souls. They need to open their eyes and their hearts in love and acceptance, and live out the true American creed of being born free and equal and everyone equal before the law and equal treatment under that law. And that yes, God or some higher power beyond mere mortal humans makes possible that common aspiration for “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” members of our species harken to so naturally.
Dr. Thomas Martin Sobottke
For Struggles for Justice