Friday, November 7, 2008

Two Americas: Part 4382910

Blue America:
I ate lunch today with an African American friend of mine who got back from a trip to Chicago on Wednesday. She had bought her ticket months ago for a conference and was supposed to fly back to North Carolina on Tuesday. But when Tuesday arrived, it had became clear that win or lose, there was going to be "The Event" in Grant Park (as it was apparently called in Chi-Town). She decided that being there represented a sort of once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and decided to pay an extra $100 to delay her flight a day.

For whatever reason, I was fairly (perhaps overly) confident that Obama would win for months. Not so with my friend. She didn't suspect foulplay, she just couldn't convince herself that Americans would vote for a black President. She said that it wasn't until the results rolled in on the jumbotron announcing that Obama had won Ohio and Pennsylvania that she realized that she was going to be on hand hearing Barack Obama give a victory speech that night. Then the fact that Virginia voted for Obama -- a state that only a little over 40 years ago had "separate but equal" laws -- blew her mind.

Red America:
On the night of Barack Obama's victory speech, I received a forward from a conservative I know presenting a case that Obama was a clinical narcissistic. One piece of evidence: Obama has written his own memoirs before attaining power, just like Josef Stalin and Adolf Hitler. The writer of this essay warned that the consequences of putting a clinical narcissist like Obama in the seat of power might be informed by looking at the examples of Stalin and Hitler.

In the process of responding to this email, I also made it clear that I was disgusted with another forward I received from him showing a picture of Michelle Obama side-by-side with a picture of a chimpanzee. Today the conservative replied to this email with another one of his own simply titled "Sigh..." which read:
Why are certain people so selectively offended?

Liberal "Sophisticates" thought the type of stuff below was Pretty Funny especially in early 2000:

Go ahead . . . google “Bush looks like monkey” and see what you get.
My response to this email? SIGH. . . . . . . . .


Anonymous said...

This sort of thing is going to hold us back as a nation.

Obama is giving us to little to work with. We knew before they were sworn in that Clinton was a liar and a womanizer, and that Bush was dumb. We've got nothing on the new guy.
We need to find the humorous angle on Obama that'll get us through 8 years.

If we're sinking to baseless monkey jokes now (neither of the Obamas, no matter how much you squint, actually resembles a monkey) we'll never come up with our go-to Obama joke.

Personally, I'm not prepared for 8 years of that.

Aaron said...

The Bush-chimp comparisons, while certainly not racist like the Obama-monkey pictures, are nonetheless a constituent part of the decline in political conversation over the recent decades (since Clinton, or earlier?).

Perhaps I regard our intelligence too highly, but I'd like to think that we can disagree with the policies of a given person without impugning his/her intelligence or resorting to personal vilification. Such comments are beneath us and, as above, add nothing to a discussion.

I've grown increasingly weary of the vitriolic inanity of political discourse in the US over the past 10-15 years - e.g. people referring to George W. Bush as an 'idiot,' or to Hillary Clinton as a 'bitch' - and I thus make every effort to scrub it from my own conversations, as such denunciations only make us smaller and, worse, make us seem even less intelligent than the people we criticize.

-DW- said...

Bross -- Yes, I watched the first Daily Show following the election, and it was distressing to see Jon Stewart struggling to find ways to make things funny. I think that this is going to present our comedy show hosts with a real problem.

Aaron -- I agree that our political dialogue is looking pretty ugly these days. I was very tempted to tell this conservative friend of mine (after receiving the emails I described and various others of the sort) to go fuck himself, and then to return to the comfort of relatively like-minded news sources like NPR, Daily Show, NYTimes, etc. But this seems like a part of the problem. So I try to watch FOX News every once in awhile to get the other major perspective in our country's dialogue, and to read this guy's emails with some degree of open-mindedness. But these things can be so very, very hard...

Anonymous said...

If you're determined to get the counter-perspective on things, don't just my end of the spectrum by Fox news. Whatever the slant may be, it is to news what the Backstreet Boys were to music. National Review is worth a look though.

Pamphilia said...

I'm with aaron here. It's one thing to compare a white upper class guy to a chimp. It is another, very racist thing, to compare any black person to one. This is actually a really old racist stereotype, one that was already around in the Renaissance. It gets mentioned in Shakespeare, and it's all over the art and printed books. For this reason, it's pretty similar to a medieval antisemitic stereotype (hook noses, money, and blood libel). I think it is particularly offensive to invoke such old, powerful, racist stereotypes.

Pamphilia said...

PS This article suggests that white comics don't realize that there is a lot that's funny about Obama: