Jan 9, 2008

New Year: Presidential Race/Gender/Religion Questions

New year, new vows? Forget that - no justice, no peace. "There's war on the streets, there's war in the middle east." (can't remember where that line is from, but feels like I can't even place the decade because of the damn perpetual interventionist military-industrial complex of a government that we pay our taxes to).

On that tip, and this initial tangent, why is it that the American people don't give a shit about learning about the rest of the world and the world's history (broadly) while our "leaders" can't wait to dig their greedy hands and pour the blood of our young soldiers into yet another land abroad? Is the miseducation of the masses a way for the powerful to keep American people insensitive to the plight of the world's people? Damn right it is - and the profits for mass media, quasi-military/quasi-development multi-billion $$ behemoths like Haliburton, and everyone else with a fist up in the Treasury depend on it. " We don't want the damn immigrants here, and bomb their lands as much as you want to keep us safe."

Anyway, that's not my point right here. Election season is at full blast, I guess. The talking heads at the podium give way every night to the multitudes of talking heads from the corporate media, and the message of who we should elect, why we should elect them, and what the basis of that decision should be has been compromised fully at this early point. The battle royale between Hillary and Barrack are less about gender and/or race and more about dynasty, "electability," and "safety" to the so-called undecided masses. While I'm pissed as hell that Kucinich has been edged out of the debates altogether, I'm also pissed that even Edwards is getting the short shrift from the media.

I'll get into the whole race/gender/supporting the white men running for office thing soon enough, I'm sure. But at this moment, I'm kind of over the analyses that I've seen. Some of the discussions that I have been having with folks are also around why it is that white voters seem to be embracing Obama's campaign, and whether that will last. The common thought is "America isn't ready to elect a Black President" - which is a very polarizing statement in its own right. But then there's the question of someone being "palatable" or "safe" in a way that has been repeatedly contrasted with Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton's previous campaigns for the presidency.

I guess I'm annoyed at all of this on a lot of levels, but I want to think about it a little more. With race and gender thrown kind of in our faces, the question of faith/religion is getting lost in the mix. There's a viral campaign going on, just under the mainstream, about Obama being secretly Muslim and a part of a plot to take over the nation by radical fundamentalists. Whatever his personal faith, this thing is going to get really ugly really fast. If it ends up that he was raised Muslim, the know-nothings everywhere will have a field-day, and while the influential radical Zionists will want blood, even the majority of cultural Jews who are currently supporting him may have new reservations. And let's not forget the average "I don't know a Muslim but they're all going to hell" American. Fear (mongering) is a dangerous thing.

Forget that - even if the international conspiracy theories don't do him in - do you really think that we're going to get through this campaign and this attempt to pin a faith on the man without discussions of the Nation of Islam, Minister Farakhan, and the rest of it? Of course, no one wants to mention Muhammad Ali in this mix instead of the most incendiary folks from the large American black muslim community. So I'm putting out there that if the "Obama is Muslim" thing grows larger, we're going to see multiple threads that he'll have to deal with that will focus on the "unsafe" elements of black nationalism (via black muslims), and the "foreignness" of the man with the funny name that people like Andy Rooney can't deal with.

But this is far from over, and I'm far from finished with my anger about all of this. Let's hope I can write more regularly this year. Thanks for coming back.


Divya108 said...

I think that line is from the Tupac track 'Changes' rage.

great post btw.

Rage said...

Bingo, divya108 - that's exactly it. thanks for reading...

powerpolitics said...

Looking forward to new posts in the new year.

Rage said...

Thanks for reading, powerpolitics. Let's hope I can keep to it.

abaran said...

I have a theory about Obama. I think that white people flock to him b/c he eases their white guilt. His whole spiel is about "bringing people together" and he's often described as transcendent of race. It feels good when a black man tells you he's going to let you off the hook for hundreds of years of slavery and oppression. Let's not talk about racism, let's just pretend it's over. It makes him much more appealing than those off-putting guys Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton!

Rage said...

I tend to agree with you abaran. I definitely think the justification of "colorblindness" angle is front and center here. But I wonder if he's going to do so well when it really matters, just because people will start to realize that this would be the face of the nation, and some of the hypocrisy of the American "freedom" agenda would be more plain to the world (than it already is?).

And you know, I'm *sick* of hearing of Jackson and Sharpton. Let's talk about Shirley Chisholm: Unbought and Unbossed! You know - she was an ardent and passionate feminist, and yet, the woman's movement seems to have forgotten her (correct me if I'm wrong).

I'm a little angry right now. Maybe it's time for more regular posting.

abaran said...

I'm angry, too. I'm so tired of the parsing and "apologizing." I'm tired of the fact that immigrant women of color are encouraged to vote for the man of color by our communities because, as a child of immigrants "he understands how we feel." Does he understand how I feel? Has he ever been a woman? Or does he understand how YOU, a man of color, who claims to represent our community, feels? ARGGGGG!

abaran said...

What does this even mean? (From January 2008's "Little India")

A grassroots group, South Asians for Obama (SAFO), has chapters nationally. It has organized everything from low-dollar social gatherings, debate-watching parties, phone calls to voters, high-dollar fundraisers, to community discussions.

"Sen. Obama's background is one that the Indian American community can relate to. His father came to the United States to study, and when he talked about 'a skinny kid with a funny name' at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, he could have been talking about any of us," says Dave Kumar, a lawyer and co-founder of SAFO: "His candidacy represents the best of what this country has to offer. Many of us or our parents came here because we believed that the United States offers opportunities for all based on merit regardless of race or ethnicity, and Sen. Obama's candidacy speaks to this American ideal."

Hrishi Karthikeyan, a lawyer in Washington and another co-founder of SAFO, says: "Obama favors humility and accountability in our foreign policy; he believes individual responsibility goes hand-in-hand with collective responsibility; and he has articulated a thoughtful agenda on education, immigration, health care, economic policy and a host of other domestic priorities.

"I think Obama's message is the right one for our community, because he epitomizes the values that brought our families to this country and which we still hold dear. In addition, he has consistently demonstrated good judgment on the critical issues of our day. These are the qualities that I believe are essential in a strong national and international leader, and which give our community the best opportunity for advancement for the next generation."

Rage said...

abaran: I hear you on your first comment - though I def. don't claim to represent our kooky community. :)

And on the second piece, I have no idea what those quotes mean, though I think this Dave Kumar seems to be buying the whole "meritocracy/colorblindness" argument lock stock and barrel, and the other quote smacks of "Obama's foreign policy (which includes potentially bombing Pakistan) is a-okay with me!"