The Loss of Privilege
I play tennis every Saturday morning. It is more than a habit. It is a sacred ritual. This particular Saturday was not one of my better days. I played at a guest club rather than my home base, it was windy, the surroundings were unfamiliar and the courts abutted a loud, dusty roadway that cast a grimy haze over the entire facility. At least that’s what I told myself.
This of course had nothing to do with my footwork or lack thereof and despite having 110 inches of racket head I couldn’t return a serve to save my life. In short, I stank on ice. Oh well, such is the life of a weekend warrior.
One court over, was another group of “senior” players, also well past their prime and equally unlikely to win Wimbledon. During a change of sides, I overheard a conversation that troubled me.
The dialogue started out innocently enough as the four players joked about their lack of tennis skills. “Good serve”, one complemented an opponent, for a delivery as soft as bathroom tissue. “Yeah and I crushed the return didn’t I” his opponent joked referencing a return that hit the bottom of the net rather than crossing it.
But the conversation soon degenerated into a” full throated lambasting of President Obama and all things non conservative. Every word they uttered put the President and his entire agenda in the worst possible light. “He’s a communist, a socialist, a Muslim, a Marxist, a Kenyan and a dictator” they lamented. Obama-care will never work, it is a socialist plot, a government takeover, anti-American and will destroy the best health care system in the world” they complained.
“Liberals are immoral, illogical and corrupt. The Democrat Party (not the Democratic Party), fosters and rewards lazy, shiftless, irresponsible people who are dependent on welfare and who wait for their “gobment” checks rather than work like real Americans” they alleged. After the match, they retired to their ring side seats on the terrace facing Court One, beers in hand, to continue their diatribe.
I have no doubt that these are hard working, kind and generous people who love their families, communities and country. They are also entitled to their opinions, as well as the articulation and exposition thereof. And by way of confession, I was often less than kind to the previous occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. I therefore make no pretense at being pristine.
But the depth of hatred directed at the current administration makes this a different kind of animosity. The criticism was so extreme, so vile, so different by degree as to be a different kind of censure. Bile oozing from each syllable, every word dripped of a cynicism, scorn and contempt reserved for the most hated, the most reviled of reprobates. Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden were not so despised.
Moreover, the attitudes accompanying their words were equally disturbing. Possessed of a smugness; a projected sense of entitlement; an exclusivity as to who are the real Americans, their comments were more than political opinions. These were moral judgments, statements of superiority, personal condemnations passed from the highest of the high to the lowest of the low; from the apex to the nadir of society.
If only this degree of Obama hating were limited to one tennis court on one Saturday. Sadly, it is not. It is one thing to question the President’s policies. I certainly do, at least some of them. It is however, quite another to query the President’s status as an American; his very humanity.
Pictures of the President Obama’s head and face have been photo shopped onto the bodies of gorillas. There are videos of little old ladies referring to the President as a son of a bitch, who should be impeached even assassinated. And of course there is rocker Ted Nugent’s description of the President as a “subhuman mongrel”.
The first lady is routinely ridiculed for how she looks, what she wears, does and says, no matter how innocent, regardless as to how well meaning. Not even the President’s children are sacred.
Yet, the stock market is soaring, unemployment is at 6.7%, the banking, automotive and housing industries have rebounded from the financial collapse of 2008 and those who complain so bitterly about the redistribution of wealth have made out like bandits under this administration. Osama Bin Laden is dead as are a number of others responsible for 911, the Somali pirates who kidnapped Americans were quickly dispatched, our troops are no longer in Iraq and will soon be leaving Afghanistan.
And the very ones who decry the invasion of the U. S. Embassy in Benghazi and the resulting loss of 4 Americans are strangely silent when it comes to the 13 embassies invaded and the subsequent deaths of 98 Americans that occurred during the Bush administration. Those who complain the most about the Benghazi “cover-up” voice no such concerns about our unpreparedness regarding 911 despite the CIA’ daily briefing delivered to President Bush on August 1, 2001 entitled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in the U. S.”, the fraudulent invasion of Iraq and the subsequent bungling of the war thereof.
Why is Obama an unconstitutional dictator for using 168 Executive Orders while no such allegation is made against Bush who issued 291 Executive Orders, Clinton who issued 364 orders and Reagan for 381 such orders? And how is it that the 2014 Russian invasion of the Ukraine and Crimea are indicative of Presidential weakness but the Russian invasion of Georgia during the Bush administration is not?
This is not to say that the current administration is without fault. Clearly it is not. And Blackacre is no cheerleader for all things Obama. The NSA data collection on Americans is a real problem and the Presidents views on legalizing drugs is nothing less than hypocritical, especially given his past use and marketing of illegal drugs.
In addition, we have a rich history of personal attacks directed at our Presidents. The words and phrases that were used to describe Abraham Lincoln for example, would shock a sailor.
But much of the Obama negativity is irrational. One cannot be a Jeremiah Wright inspired radical Christian, a Muslim and an atheist all at the same time. As stated earlier, I was no fan of the former President. But as hard as I was on President Bush, I didn’t hate him. And I never questioned his humanity.
From where does the loathing of all things Obama spring? What is the gravamen of this animosity and why is it so personal? More important, how do we deal with such irrational yet pure unadulterated hatred? The key lies in properly diagnosing the source of this discontent.
Many blame manifest racism. But while a part of the stew, racism is not the main ingredient. It is more than the color of the President’s skin which offends some. It is what his election portends. It is more than his race that troubles them. It is what his Presidency represents.
Fear and resentment rather than racial hatred are the motivating factors; the operative emotions here? Fear of the loss of political, economic and cultural dominion. Fear of the subsequent passing of that which is demanded but seldom surrendered, a sense of entitlement, the feeling of privilege.
The basis for this animosity is a deep resentment of policies that threatens a particular worldview; that offends cherished beliefs and sensibilities. How dare we countenance abortion on demand or the spectacle of people openly loving whomever they choose? Health care is not a right, but a privilege reserved only for those who deserve it.
The crux of this ill will is fear that the odds are stacked against them; of a battle that cannot be won, of a war that ultimately will be lost. For the stove upon which this fear and resentment simmers and boils is not the threat of impending socialism but of America’s changing demographics.
These are pivotal times and the conflict is not about President Obama. It is instead a battle for the very soul of America. And those who fear will do anything to preserve a culture and way of life that favors them, including but not limited to congressional redistricting and gerrymandering, voter suppression under the guise of voter identification, and court rulings that defy logic; where money is speech and corporations are persons.
In the final analysis, the Obama bashing is not based on what the President has done, but what may well happen. It is the browning of America and the perceived loss of privilege upon which this hatred is based.
Leo Barron Hicks, Founder and CEO, Blackacre Policy Forum