Barack Obama and Introspective Politics
Part 3 of 3
Barack Obama has overwhelming support among Blacks in his bid to be President of the United States. He could easily be conceived as that ‘Black Messiah’ that J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI were so concerned about during the dark days of the oppressive and suppressive but effective COINTELPRO legacy. It was a tragically one-sided high-tech, high-level war waged by powerful White men in the government against both peaceful Blacks and those perceived as militant. In plain English, whether you came at the system as a lion as personified in Malcolm, or a lamb as embodied in Martin, you had a bullet waiting for you. How did Barack get through?
Well, frankly, at some point they’re counting on him becoming like them. What do I mean? Well, the 33rd President of the United States of America, Harry S. Truman (1884-1972), confessed in a letter to his daughter, Margaret, “that to be a good president a man ‘can’t live the Sermon on the Mount.’” This doesn’t sound too promising, given the fact that it runs counter to Brother Barack’s professed Christian values, which are already being challenged by Republican “Christian” conservatives. It gets worse.
Truman went on to say “that a president ‘must be a Machiavelli, Louis IX of France, Caesar, Borgia,...a liar, double-crosser, a hero and a what-not to be successful.” That’s deep. That’s real deep. But I know what you’re thinking: “Never Obama!” right? Well, let’s hope not. In fact, let’s pray that that not the case should Obama become president. (1 Timothy 2:1, 2) Are there any specific examples where a president was, say, a “double-crosser”? Since the president has declared a “War on Terror,” subsequently sending our sons and daughters to battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan, let’s take a brief look at the circumstances surrounding the biggest war the US has ever been engaged in insofar as race is concerned, namely, World War II.
The Nazi propaganda machine was running full throttle during the war. And while there were monumental lies being told, truth and sound reasoning reared their heads, embarrassingly, at times. Take for example what one cartoon that ran in a German newspaper. President Roosevelt is holding a sign that translates into English, “For Democracy and Freedom,” while at the same time a Black man is standing behind him holding a sign that essentially reads, ‘What about democracy for us here in the USA!’ The cartoon is entitled, “The Old Hypocrite,” with reference of course to Roosevelt. Truman would rather use “double-crosser.” And what about Obama?
Oh, the hypocrisy of the White Man is not confined to the Black race. At the same time that the U.S. Army had formed a division of exclusively Japanese soldiers during WWII who descended on Dachau just after a Black tank division led by Lt. Col. Emmett Simmons had broken through to free Jews, Blacks, and others, relatives of these loyal, faithful, fiercely patriotic Japanese-American soldiers were interned in America’s version of her own concentration camp. You might be surprised where one of these was located. “Santa Anita was the largest Assembly Center for the Japanese-American internment in World War II,” reports one source. “About 20,000 Japanese-Americans lived at the racetrack during 1942, in temporary housing in the stable area and in barracks constructed on the site’s parking lot.” The hypocrisy of the racist White governmental officials at the time was both mind-numbing and incomprehensible. And what about Obama?
Encouragingly, Blacks and Whites most assuredly can work together. In fact, in the final analysis, it won’t be about Black and White. It’ll be about wrong and right. As abysmal as the history of race relations has been in America, the line separating right from wrong is not one of color. Rather, it’s one of morality. And the harsh reality is this: you have people of all colors on both sides of the line of demarcation between light and darkness, good and evil. Fact: There are some evil people who look like us and there are some good people who are as White as they come. It’s a beautiful thing when Right comes together in Black and White.
Take the case of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850. Blacks and Whites worked together for what was right. The law stated that any runaway slave that traveled north had to be returned to his rightful owner after a perfunctory hearing before a federal commissioner. Well, “When an escaped slave named Shadrach was seized in February 1851, a group of African American men broke into the courtroom, overwhelmed the federal marshals, seized Shadrach, and sent him safely to Canada,” says one source. What happened when these Black men went to trial? “Although the action had community support, a Massachusetts jury [of all Whites] defiantly refused to convict the perpetrators.” What happened next?
“The federal government responded with overwhelming force. In April 1851, 300 armed soldiers were mobilized to prevent the rescue of Thomas Simms, who was being shipped back into slavery. In the most famous case in Boston, a biracial group of armed abolitionists led by Unitarian clergyman Thomas Wentworth Higginson stormed the federal courthouse in 1854 in an attempt to save escaped slave Anthony Burns. The rescue effort failed, and a federal deputy marshal was killed.” How would the president react? What would Obama do?
“President Pierce sent marines, cavalry, and artillery to Boston to reinforce the guard over Burns and ordered a federal ship to be ready to deliver the fugitive back into slavery.” How did fair-minded, honest-hearted White Bostonians respond? The account continues: “When the effort by defense lawyers to argue for Burns’s freedom failed, Bostonians raised money in the community to buy his freedom. But the U.S attorney, ordered by the president to enforce the Fugitive Slave Law in all circumstances, blocked the purchase. The case was lost, and Burns was marched to the docks through streets lined with sorrowing abolitionists. Building were shrouded in black and draped with American flags hanging upside down, while bells tolled as if for a funeral.”
What would Obama do? I’d like to think the brilliant brother would do well. But, to be sure, our dear brother will have to ask himself, “How does one accurately delineate between the give-and-take of the interactive human experience, and the exploitative no-holds-barred win-at-all-cost Machiavellian conniving of the political animal? At some point, will Obama, the mild mannered man morph into an unrecognizable political monster? Let’s hope that just because he runs with donkeys and elephants doesn’t mean he’ll become an animal himself. Again, let’s pray that our dear brother doesn’t. Let’s pray that he embraces the Sermon on the Mount, just as Gandhi encouraged a British Viceroy to do...Can I get an Amen to that?!... Amen.
See related article “The Bible: Black’s Best Book?” in the Religion section page C-7.
Dr. Firpo Carr n can be reached at 800.501.2713 or