I remember for the last eight years, I always questioned everything that President Bush did. Now I begin to notice how President Obama is also being questioned...however, maybe I am misguided here, but it seems that a lot of things that Bush was criticized for...I don't know...actually happened?
So healthcare is a secret plan to take away our guns? Of course, I remember those who suggested that Iraq was a secret plan to take away their oil, so I am not blind to the crazy partisan rhetoric on the left. Of course, I'm still not sure why we went into Iraq...
It seems plausible to me to say that Obama's plan is inefficient, to say that it's expensive, to say that it's wasteful, to say that it favors corporations over the rest of the country...I may not agree with those points, but those are constructive criticisms. To say that, however, Obama has ulterior motives that he is hiding, is a bit paranoid, I think. Further, where is the evidence? When has Obama said that he has a revulsion for guns? Has he done anything yet in his administration against firearms? What is the reasoning behind these fears?
People believe all kinds of crazy things, so I am not that surprised. We've got people who believe the U.S. government directly caused 9/11, people who believe that Obama was born in Kenya, people who think the moon landings were a fake, people who think the biological diversity of our planet can be crammed into the last few thousand years, people who think Obama is indoctrinating children with the same kind of speech that Bush 41 and Reagan made, and many other strange and unusual things.
America is a funny country. If you beat prisoners, you get off scot-free (see Abu Ghraib). But if you beat dogs, you get to go to prison (see Michael Vick). Do we really believe that dogs are more important than people who live in other countries?
And do you remember the gospel story where the Samaritan women asks Jesus to help her, and he says that he is only there for the chosen, and then the foreign woman pleads with him for a scrap from the table which even the dogs would eat? Can we not spare a table scrap of mercy and justice for the other human beings with which we share this planet?
Sometimes, it seems like America is obsessed with "the other". Barack Obama is "the other". People who live in cities are "the other". People who are Muslim are "the other". People who live in other countries are "the other". People who are gay are "the other". People who are intellectuals are "the other". What happened to give me your tired, give me your poor, give me your huddled masses, yearning to break free?
And yet I remember the American heritage of anti-immigrant sentiment. We hated the Irish, and we hated the Chinese, and hated the Eastern European, and made laws to limit the number of people from these groups who could immigrate to the United States. We interned thousands of innocent Japanese civilians during WWII because we were afraid of them.
America has been afraid for far too long. There is too much fear in America.
George W. Bush played on the public's fears, with his Orange Alerts and his war peddling (weapons of mass propaganda??) and his "Axis of Evil" rhetorical ploys, and this is his legacy: the political discourse in America continues to be poisoned with insecurity, anxiety, and blame.
I once thought that Barack Obama could be the kind of President to stand above all this, to inspire our country and renew our confidence and optimism, to lead with intelligence and vigor and honesty, to move our country in a more open and less fearful direction. Now I am not so sure.