Which argument is better?
A) The world is round because, you know, it just like totally is and everybody knows it.
B) The world is flat because, if perception is reality, then we must acknowledge that most aspects of our lives are based on an understanding of the world being flat: we don’t see the curvature of the Earth with any regularity, so we are comfortable with two dimensional maps and measure the fastest travel routes over land, not through the ground.
While the premise of argument A is true, argument B is superior. Ideally, we want arguments that are both true and intelligently defended, but that is neither here nor there. My point is that too many people today are comfortable with the first kind of thinking, and such logical sloppiness can only lead to trouble.
Sadly, this is the case with the election of Barack Obama.
I don’t have anything against President Obama personally, nor do I wish ill for him or his administration. I hope he turns out to be the greatest president we’ve ever had, because that would be good for the country. This is not a criticism of him, but it is absolutely a criticism of many who voted for him. I don’t fault anyone for voting their conscience, and anyone who voted for him because they considered and prefered his politics has my respect, but just as I cannot respect someone who says the Earth is round because “it just like totally is,” I cannot respect the vote of someone who elected a man for the wrong reason.
Barack Obama became president of the United States not because of his experience, policies, or vision, nor even his character. Barack Obama won the election because he’s black. Besides the fact that fully 96% of black voters opted for Obama, the race factor is baldly advertised with such blatantly racist posturing as Tom Brokaw trumpeting Obama’s election as a slap in the face to “bigots and rednecks,” Joseph Lowery’s scathing indictment of white people during a prayer at the inauguration when he yearned for a time “when white will embrace the right,” and even hinted at when Obama himself pronounced in his inauguration speech that his election was a victory of “hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.” (Does this mean that a vote for McCain was a vote for fear? How so? And how tactless is that to say?)
Though Obama himself may not be overtly parading his race, I wish he would address the foul opportunists who are taking advantage of it to further their racist ends. I’ve blogged before about the commercial paraphernalia oozing out of every corner of America’s youth culture to cash in on Obamamania (after which I was called a racist on another blog), but since then things have gotten worse. A few weeks ago I saw a young man wearing a shirt whose large bold block letters practically screamed out their text: “My president is black.” (Apparently, this phrase is a popular refrain.) Just this weekend, I saw a younger boy whose shirt read “HBO: Help Brother Obama.”
There’s no denying it: America’s young people, minorities, and liberal whites have a deep, pervasive streak of racism in their minds that, ironically, as they celebrate their victory over their outdated conception of racism, is growing stronger than ever before.
I want to say again that while I disagree with Obama and his policies, I respect him as a person and sincerely wish him well in his administration. Sadly, his many great characteristics are all but ignored by the popular culture in favor of his color. I wish that Obama would repudiate the vapid cult of personality that exploits his race far more than any pickaninny or blackface stereotype ever could have, and I will keep hoping that our country will look to him for all the true good he has to offer and copy that, instead of using his race as an excuse to indulge in bitter, trendy divisiveness.
You want to admire Barack Obama? Be a committed husband and father, like he is.
You want to emulate Barack Obama? Get an education and work hard in your career, as he has.
You want to be more like Barack Obama? Go to church regularly for years, with your family, as he has.
Those three things would make the world a better place, and he has the power to promote them. I expect that this could very well happen. Already, I’ve seen him do public service spots on TV to promote community volunteering. (Of course, Bush did that and was universally ignored.) It’s a start.
I’ve made sure that as I’ve prayed with my family in the last two months that I’ve implored God to bless and prosper President Obama many times.
After all, my president is black, too. Maybe I should get one of those shirts.