I know many people who not only hate President Obama, but are proud of doing so.
It is a strange thing to hate one’s leader in a Democracy – especially when his election (twice) was by a clear majority.
Hating one’s own leader is doubly strange when the reasons given are incoherent, contradictory and irrational.
I hear many people say “I’m not racist, I just don’t like him!”
I want to ask these people if they have ever had the same level of vitriolic hatred for any public white person.
Hatred of President George W. Bush was long and loud, but it seems to me that it was much more about what he did – or what was done in his name – than anything personal.
From a contested (at its most generous) first election, to his eager support of two major military expeditions, to his near-constant violations of the Constitution with warrantless wiretapping among other things and his, ahem, supervision of the destruction of the world’s largest economy, there is much justification for hating at least the results of President Bush’s policies.
We may blame these messes on the Bush Administration, but very few people hate President Bush on a personal level.
Have you noticed how hysterical some people get when President Obama comes up in conversation?
Rational discussion becomes impossible and preposterous rumors tend to emerge; “Obama’s going to take our guns” – the reality is that gun sales are up, and any confiscation of guns is either extraordinarily secret or is perhaps not going well, at least not yet.
And for a ‘socialist’, the stock market, and most leading economic indicators are doing remarkably well.
The national debt (remember all the hysteria about it just a few months ago?) has been dropping at the most rapid rate in over 60 years. Violent crime is down, employment is increasing and the real estate market is growing by the day.
So what is the basis of all the furious rage against President Obama’s policies?
Ah yes, health care and Benghazi. Who will care about these issues a year or two from now?
And, of course, the fulminations against President Obama aren’t racist.
Of course not.
The rantings I heard against President Bush were political, Constitutional, legal, ethical and even financial, but almost never personal.
There were many who questioned President Bush’s competence, intention and influences, but few questioned his character.
In contrast, the attacks on President Obama are almost always personal.
What’s the difference?
It’s hard to keep the word ‘uppity’ out of this conversation. President Obama doesn’t seem to ‘know his place’.
A good friend, well-educated and travelled, calls those who voted for President Obama ‘Obama lovers’.
These are the same people who say that President Obama ‘injects race’ into every issue.
Several people I know have sincerely told me “I’m not racist; I love Colin Powell”.
I respect Colin Powell too, but I was horrified when he publicly lied about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq to protect his white superiors and colleagues. Powell ‘knew his place’ and refused to run for president.
Colin Powell was what used to be called a ‘good negro’ – one who sacrifices, with a smile, his own integrity, and sometimes personal safety, for the good of his white masters. The term ‘Uncle Tom’ comes to mind here.
Many of us seem to have forgotten, or never knew, the crippling baggage of these Civil Rights era assumptions and phrases.
Many people I know say that they hate President Obama because of how he ‘acts’ and can barely use the word ‘president’ before Obama without spitting.
Racism, of course, has nothing to do with it.
They would feel exactly the same way about a white person who ‘acted’ the same way.
If only they could find one.
A real prophet (risks everything) and speaks truth to power.
A classic example would be Nathan confronting King David with the words “You are that man” (2 Samuel 12:7).
But these would-be prophets don’t speak truth to power – they speak paranoid fantasies to each other – and feel compelled, not to document or prove, or even think rationally, but to outdo each other in the intensity and sheer fear-filled lunacy of their claims.
They don’t speak from the courage of their convictions – in fact their ‘convictions’ change with the seasons. Their ‘courage’ is of the anonymous internet troll or the raging mob.
They have no enduring convictions. In fact they belong to the ideological equivalent of a conviction-of-the-month club. One month it’s the deficit, then the economy, then gun rights, then taxes, then healthcare, then Unions, then Benghazi, then the IRS and then whatever else the spin committee can come up with.
It’s difficult to put aside the feeling that there is a marketing team pulling the strings on these various ‘scandals’.
One of the many ironies is that most of the people I know gleefully follow and spread these ‘scandals’ call themselves Christians.
Anyone with even a glancing familiarity with the Bible knows that we are to pray for our leaders (1 Thessalonians 5:25) and certainly pray, and work for, the prosperity of our communities (Jeremiah 29:7).
These should never be prayers of cynicism or fatalism – do we really believe God would honor such prayers?
And ‘bearing false witness’ should be something we avoid – not take delight in.
Who are we, and what have we become when we pray for, and hope for, the failure of our leaders?
If we do, we are actively and deliberately pursuing our own destruction.
We, like few in the world’s history, have the right, privilege and obligation to support and engage with our political process.
How dare we sabotage, subvert or withdraw from it?