The Heart Fears Darkness

Copyright © by Len Holman, 3/15/14


  The true knock against President Obama has always been hidden, hedged around with phrases which were—and still are—meant to appeal to the “reasonable” minds among us:  He was too young, too inexperienced (remember Hillary’s campaign ad about that ominous 3 AM call?), too indecisive (tell that to Bin Laden), to eager to institute a socialist state (also called a “nanny state”), and his foreign policy —in the words of the illustrious senior senator from Arizona—is “feckless.”  Also, he was born in a foreign country (not true, is it, Donald?) and was not a Christian, but a creepy, suspect Muslim.   But in reality, his major flaw has always been that he is Other, and the Other is not to be tolerated by humans, for it means danger, a strange other-worldly entry into a landscape comfortably familiar to most white, complacent, uncontextualized Americans, people who think they liked everything the way it was and WILL like it that way forever.  The world, however, cannot wait for them, these dinosaurs who will go extinct in the next big fireball to hit the earth.  Obama has two chief problems: one is that he LOOKS like the Other, and the second problem is that he THINKS that way, too. 

  Now that the Affordable Care Act is starting to gain acceptance and steam, there is the Crimean situation.  Before that, it was Syria and Benghazi, and before that it was his outlandish idea that the two main parties in this country (I’ll pause here while the reader tries to figure out which is which) could work together for the good of the country and the world.  It is hard to fathom the depth of the fear which surrounds the President, the depth of the hatred and repugnance. He is black (on his father’s side) and has ties to Africa (call Darwin!), and speaks well (very uppity), and has ideas about giving everyone health care.  He is castigated for wanting to trim the Army to (here is another catch-phrase) “pre-WWII levels”—even though this is a completely different world than that one, with high-tech weapons, and even though we’ll STILL have a military which can turn any country on this planet into a dystopian wasteland. 

  In evolutionary terms, the Other is a danger to the tribe, the clan, and must be either avoided or killed. The Other is an unknown factor which disturbs the psyche and the mind.  The Other must be stopped. Now, Obama is in his second term and doesn’t have to put up with posters showing a black male face with a bone through its nose or frantic Fox presentations of the “evidence” he faked his birth certificate, or having to endure the name-calling his wife receives because she wants kids to stop belting down liters of Coke and start eating veggies.  He is castigated for doing nothing in that messy ground cartographers call Syria, even though no one can tell who is on what side and no one can foresee what will happen if we supply SOMEONE with weapons.  He wants to close Guantanamo, but can’t seem to get anyone to agree with him.  He calls the Russian president and uses a stern voice, for that’s about all he can do in the way of force, and he is called “weak” for not doing SOMETHING about the Russian incursion into Crimea, though what Senator McCain wants the U.S, to do is still unexplained—except he wants us to do what we ARE doing, which is talking, freezing assets and keeping a close on an enigmatic, ego-driven man and his desire to re-establish Russian grandeur. 

  The President wants a higher minimum wage (a “job-killer”) and he does guest appearances on TV and did a comic bit on the fake interview Web show called “Between  Two Ferns,” for which he was derided for degrading the office of the president.  Not that the previous Presidents were paragons of virtue, but they were unlike Obama because they were of our tribe and though we punished some of them, they were still allowed to be who they were without the disgust and fear.  When Obama leaves office, will he build his Presidential Library in Texas?  In Florida or North Carolina or Oklahoma?  Not bloody likely.  He will build it in Illinois and then will be quietly consigned to a very small circle of admirers who are somewhat immune to Other-ness. 

  After his last term there will be heard throughout the red states a sigh of relief and a gleeful hurrah.  Republicans are sure they have the Dems on the run and that the 2016 elections will confirm this (see the recent senatorial election in Florida).  So the rosy fantasy of the tribe is that they will control both house of Congress, justice will be restored, birds will sing and Gypsies will play their magic violins once more, while the sun eternally shines on a comforting, familiar cultural and political landscape.  The Other will have been ousted and all will be right with…..wait a minute, isn’t there a woman waiting in the weeds to become President?  A woman?  The tribe grows restless at the thought.  Another stranger in the club, another interloper in the land, another enemy.  And what will they call her in their secret hearts?  The Otherette?


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