Saturday, September 27, 2008

What's in a Name?


What a long, strange guilt trip it's been. And most of us are unaware that we're even on it.

Right wingers for better than a year have been conscientiously reminding us time and time again what Sen. Obama's middle name is.

However, given their dismal outreach program toward African American voters (with all due respect to Ken Mehlman), one deeply suspects that, in reality, the name they really want to pounce on is not his middle name but his surname.

President Barack Obama. Think about what shudders through the collective nervous system of white Appalachia, Deep South crackers and Caucasian Middle America when they repeat that name and conjunctive title.

President Obama.

The brand name we've been hearing repeatedly in the news since the 2004 Democratic convention is suddenly stripped of its faux mainstream familiarity. It's an unmistakably African, not African American name, one not buried under the unthreatening slave names Washington and Jefferson or comfortingly bleached through Anglicization.

It is unmistakably, unequivocally, unapologetically, even proudly African, specifically Kenyan. And those who insist on judging their fellow humans because of their X or Y chromosome, their skin pigmentation or lack thereof or what geographical borders within which we were hurtled into this world, all without our consent, will feel the need to come to grips with Obama's African roots.

Obama. It will make people think of spear chuckers, women with bare breasts sagging down to their navels and all the misleading pictures in the pages of National Geographic that we were raised to believe as gospel.

What will go through their minds on Election Day, when they're standing in the booth, committed and needing to vote for somebody? I'm thinking not of dependably racist Republicans but so-called Democratic voters, the "Undecideds", the independents who find McCain loathsome and laughable.

President Obama. Hm...

This is where guilt will tiptoe into the 11th hour of the race, the guilt that reminds us what we did to West Africans, we meaning white people collectively. We Dutch, we English, we Irish... We Americans. And sometimes guilt can drive us away from doing the right thing as often as driving us away from committing ancient sins.

We may think of slave ships carrying blacks from the Dark Continent, packed in the cargo hold like sardines. We'll atavistically remember chains, whips, thumbscrews, families torn apart on the auction block.

And, to paraphrase Robert Lowell in his landmark poem "For the Union Dead", it will stick like a fishbone in the nation's throat.

4 Comments:

At September 27, 2008 at 11:41 AM, Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

count me with shaw's father, and sandberg, i've often said that the only fitting memorial for a grunt is grass.

green. fresh. grass.

we shall see if the bradley effect plays.

hell, it may not even matter.

 
At September 27, 2008 at 3:04 PM, Anonymous Comrade Rutherford said...

Oh, yeah, slavery, right...

I have been working all this week on a show about discrimination against homosexual, and at the same time reading Art Speigleman's MAUS, about the Nazi death camps.

And having read Edwin Black's "IBM and the Holocaust" I am all too aware that I would have 'gone up the chimney' had I been a German citizen back then. One of the classifications designated by the Nazis on their IBM punchcards was 'unsocial', meaning citizens that thought Hitler might not have been All That.

Today, we have the grandson of a Nazi in the White House and the conservatives are seriously wanting to put Palin in as president, someone who wants me and my family all dead.

Because of the conservative media of the last 30 years brainwashing Americans into believing that the last 500 years of 'enlightenment' is the worst thing to ever happen to a society, I now have to fight against the overwhelming fear that they may just get their wish to destroy America and the world.

My wife is related to so-called 'christians' like Palin, people who think that Jesus isn't coming back fast enough so we should nuke the world to get him here faster.

I have also wondered about the Mayan calendar ending on Winter Solstice in 2012, and how that could be. As we approach that date, I see more and more clearly how that could actually play out. My worse nightmares usually end with pious christian conservatives intentionally nuking the world rather than peacefully handing power over to a legitimately elected liberal.

Hmm... Maybe I should stop reading about WWII so much...

"Friends? Your friends? Hmpf, lock them in a room with no food for a week and then you'll see what is friends." - Vladek Speigelman

 
At October 3, 2008 at 3:40 PM, Blogger Len Hart said...

Comrade Rutherford said...

Today, we have the grandson of a Nazi in the White House and the conservatives are seriously wanting to put Palin in as president, someone who wants me and my family all dead.

I hear you! I am of Native American descent. Most of my ancestors are dead because they were the victims of deliberate and ON GOING acts of genocide by Palin-types and Palin wannabes.

In fact, the government has already declared war on my 'race', in fact, everyone who is not among the top one percent!

I think it's time that everyone who's been cheated out of money because of unfair taxation that had the express purpose and effect of enriching an increasingly tiny elite should overthrow this illegitimate government and replace it.

That principle was espoused by Thomas Jefferson himself in the Declaration of Independence. He said that it was the 'right' of the people to 'abolish' governments that are destructive of 'those ends'.

Later Che Guevara, in his "Principles of Guerilla Warfare" said: "People must see clearly the futility of maintaining the fight for social goals within the framework of civil debate. When the forces of oppression come to maintain themselves in power against established law; peace is considered already broken. "

This government has betrayed Locke's 'Social Contract'.

This government has waged war upon the people of the US in numerous acts of high treason.

This is not rhetoric. This is not propaganda. This is the fuckin' law.

Fuck the GOP!

Fuck the DC establishment!

Fuck Wall Street!

Fuck the Pentagon!

Fuck Bush!

Fuck the government!

Take back America!

 
At October 3, 2008 at 5:44 PM, Blogger jurassicpork said...

But, Len, please stop mincing words and spill it. Tell us what's really on your mind.

 

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