In one week, America will have it’s first black president elect …
October 28, 2008 § 1 Comment
By Khaya Dlanga, October 28 2008
… barring some unforeseen event or the Republicans doing what they know what to do best every four years – stealing an election. It’s easy to use the typical and lazy argument that black people support Obama simply because he is black. Naturally, blacks will be proud of him, just like women would have been of Hillary Clinton had she won the nomination instead of Obama. As were Catholics when JFK beat Nixon.
To claim that his skin colour is the only reason black people want him to be president is an insult. That statement assumes that blacks are an unthinking herd that is only governed and motivated by colour. Besides, this simplistic view omits the fact that 88% of black voters voted for John Kerry in 2004 and Al Gore got a whopping 90% in 2000. Blacks vote Democrat idiot! If they recall, before the Democratic primaries black people all over America were saying that Obama was not black enough. Of course now he is too black.
I like what Chris Rock says about people who say America can’t have a black president, “Why not? We just had a retarded one.” My second favourite quote about Obama’s candidacy is from comedian and talk show host, Bill Maher, the host of HBO’s Real Time (I watch the programme on the “internets”). He said, “Don’t lie and say you won’t vote for Obama; it’s because he’s smarter than you. That’s why you won’t vote for him. That’s why you voted for Bush twice!”
He will be the first American president in eight years I can say without doubt is smarter than I am. It doesn’t take a lot to be smarter than me. And I hope I can say the same thing about South Africa’s next president.
Obama overcame every single hurdle that has been put before him; sometimes they were not just mere hurdles, they were like the Great Wall of China. Let’s start with his name. Here is a man who has the “misfortune” of having his middle name as “Hussein” in the United States of all places. And he decided to run for president too with that name. As if that wasn’t bad enough, his surname sounds like Osama and his name is Barack. All very “un-American sounding.” Television reporters have often made the mistake of referring to him as “Democratic nominee Barack Osama” on live television. He had to overcome that. He has been accused of being Muslim. I suspect that being called a Muslim is code for terrorist in some parts of the US.
Of course had he been Muslim there should have been nothing wrong with that either. During his hard fought primaries against Hillary Clinton there was a poll that showed that 13% of Americans thought that he was Muslim and a whopping 80% of those said they wouldn’t vote for a Muslim.
When General Collin Powell, (former Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff, former National Security Advisor and Secretary of State) a Republican, broke ranks with his own party to endorse Barack Obama, a Democrat, he tackled the Muslim issue in a fashion that I hadn’t heard any major political figure address. He said that he was disturbed by what was permitted to be said by the Republicans. The lazy and anti-intellectual wing of the Republican Party said that Powell endorsed Obama because he is also black. (Interestingly, the ANC has been displaying some anti-intellectual signs of late.)
Powell gave the example of an elderly lady who said at a McCain rally during a Q&A session, “Well, you know that Obama is a Muslim?” McCain grabbed the microphone from the lady and said, “No ma’am, he’s an American.”
Powell said, “The correct answer is he is not a Muslim, he is a Christian. But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer is no, that’s not America. Is there something wrong with some seven-year-old Muslim kid believing that he/she can be president?” Then he went on to admonish senior members of his party, the Republicans, for implying that Obama is a Muslim and might be associated with terrorists.
He went on to talk about a photo assay about soldiers that had died in Iraq. He mentioned a picture he saw of a mother in a cemetery; she had her head on the headstone of her son’s grave. The headstone had her son’s name and awards. “At the very top of the tombstone was not a Cross, or the Star of David, it had a Crescent and a Star of Islamic faith … he was an American.” No one has said that there is nothing wrong with being a Muslim and an American at the same time as Collin Powell. No one has refuted the silent bigotry that being Muslim is un-American with the same eloquence and intellectual fluidity as Collin Powell.
Then there is Reverend Jeremiah Wright who almost single-handedly sank Obama’s hopes. His sermons after 9/11 when he railed against America, which essentially said that America got what it deserved. “God bless America,” he said. “No, God damn America.” Suddenly Hillary saw a glimmer of hope; maybe she stood a chance after all. Instead of addressing the crisis in a typical politician’s manner – managing and spinning the crisis, he did the opposite. He decided to tackle the issue of race in the United States head on and spoke to Americans as if they were adults in his great speech, what I believe to be his greatest speech, “A more perfect union.” He survived that because he spoke about race in a way that had never been done before; he addressed white fears and black fears all at once.
Then there was Hillary Clinton. People forget how tough Obama is. They look at him and see the nice guy with an easy flashy smile; the ladies see a guy they’d introduce to their mothers. Obama is one tough SOB. This is the guy that defeated the most powerful political machine in American history. Hillary Clinton. I’m sorry, that should be a plural: the Clintons.
It is a miracle that he has gone this far. He is a black man, with a father from Africa. He has a Muslim middle name. His surname rhymes with Osama. His preacher almost sank his presidential aspirations. He can’t show emotion, because if he does then he will be seen as the typical, angry black man. He has little experience. He didn’t just run against one Clinton, he ran against two, and one a popular former president. The Republicans paint him as one who palls around with terrorists. The list is endless.
Barack Obama has destiny written all over him. He is one of those rare individuals whose mark of destiny is hard to miss. He knows it. We know it. He knows we know it. But we should not mark him as a great man yet. Because destiny must be fulfilled, for before it is, it is mere potential. And potential is nothing without results.
Because of his self-awareness, he is humble enough to poke fun at the Messianic expectations that have been set on him. Just two weeks ago at the Al Smith dinner (he was the first Catholic to run for the presidency of the United States) where both candidates were invited to poke fun at one another, Obama said of himself, “Contrary to the rumours you may have heard, I was not born in a manger. I was actually born on Krypton, sent here by my father Jo Ell to save the planet earth.” There was much laughter after this.
What a breath of fresh air he will be, God willing.
first published on http://www.thoughtleader.co.za on October 28 2008