Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Sarah and Harry Follies; 2010 Edition, Chapter One


She attended four different institutions of higher learning in a five year span, one of which twice, making it a perfect five for five. In between she managed to finish third in her state's Miss America pageant competition. Armed with her degree in communications (with an emphasis on journalism) she was a sportscaster on local TV, mainly working on weekends.

After marrying and working in her husband's business she was elected to her city council (four years), was later elected to be mayor of a relatively small town where she served for six years. Following that she served on an appointed board in her home state for two years, and was elected governor of her home state, where she served 30 months of her four year term before resigning for obscure reasons.

Oh, she was also selected to be the vice presidential candidate by the Republican Party in 2008, where she managed to become part of American pop culture, whether she wanted to or not.

All of the above, and being photogenic and conservative was more than enough to qualify Sarah Palin to become a commentator for FOX NEWS. Indeed, voices like hers debating the challenges of the 21st century.

I think Keith Olbermann went out and celebrated last night. The wealth of material he's going to gain from this marriage- PRICELESS!

Not to mention to hundreds-THOUSANDS- of bloggers here in cyberspace.

To all conservatives who just watched their blood pressure elevate, stick around for a few minutes....I'm going to talk about Harry Reid for a little while.

To those of you living under a rock, this week's- and the New Year's first- bit of political furor involves a gaffe concerning Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in a passage of the book Game Change, written by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin.

Here's an excerpt from the passage in question....

"Years later, Reid would claim that he was steadfastly neutral in the 2008 race; that he never chose sides between Barack (Obama) and Hillary (Clinton); that all he did was tell Obama that "he could be president," that "the stars could align for him." But at the time, in truth, his encouragement of Obama was unequivocal. He was wowed by Obama's oratorical gifts and believed that the country was ready to embrace a black presidential candidate, especially one such as Obama -- a "light-skinned" African-American "with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one," as he later put it privately"

Now, I'm not going to make excuses for Senator Reid for what he said, or what he allegedly said. The words could be said to racially insensitive at the least, or just plain bigoted at the most extreme. But let's peel this back just a bit and ask this question to white America.....how many of you said or thought the same thing behind closed doors regarding Barack Obama, but never had your words or thoughts thrown out there for public scrutiny?

For the Republicans to ask for Reid's head on a silver platter because of this gaffe is probably a new high in their hypocrisy. The GOP who sat back and said nothing while birthers questioned Obama's citizenship. The GOP who sat on their hands while tea baggers had posters of Obama as a jungle primitive. The GOP, who had one of their own elected legislators call the President of the United States a liar during a joint session of Congress, and cried like a bunch of five year olds when the perpetrator was chastised for doing so.

Harry Reid should have kept his mouth shut, but he didn't. He repeated, in a not so subtle way, a belief that is older than the Republic, one that goes back to Western Europe in the Age of Discovery- in fact, this belief goes back to the Roman Empire, and was talked about by the historian Tacitus.

Thomas Jefferson believed in it, and so did Lincoln.....and Teddy Roosevelt most surely did.

It is a belief in the superiority of Western Europeans, of Teutonic ancestry....and of the doctrine of Aryan purity.

And no, this was not an invention of Hitler and his Nazi thugs, though he took this theory and twisted it even further to greenlight the Fascist genocide.

James Bradley, in his brilliant history of the 1905 diplomatic mission of the Theodore Roosevelt administration to the Far East The Imperial Cruise, devotes his second chapter "Civilization Follows The Sun" to telling the story of how Teutonic/Aryan beliefs permeated American society, from the Jim Crow South, to the frontier outposts of the American West, to the ivy covered halls of Columbia and Harvard. In a nutshell, the prevalent belief was of only one civilization that mattered, that of the Western Europe and of America, and all others were inferior or in decline, and needed to be eradicated or "civilized".

Bradley's fascinating story tells of an America, though great and a melting pot that offered hope to much of the world, had a dark side that divided the world into an "Us" and "The Others" situation. Once the Indians of the West had been dealt with and blacks had been "put in their place", America could go about its business....and try to civilize "The Others" of the Far East.

We are talking a mentality that existed 105 years ago, and its roots have moved into this century like unwanted crabgrass; Brit Hume telling the world that Tiger Woods needs to become a Christian in order to gain forgiveness; a justice of the peace will not marry a biracial couple in Louisiana because the justice has concerns for any children they might have; and now the Senate Majority leader is quoted that the first American President of color was acceptable because he didn't sound like...."The Others".

Race- and talking about race- is still the last big taboo in America. Sex, drugs, rock and roll, and all in between is OK, but race is the one subject we still have to dance around the eggshells. To anyone who thinks "The Age of Obama" would change that, guess again. There may come a day when we can talk about race without repercussions or possible recriminations, but that day is not in the forseeable future.

Ironically, the Reid/Obama story broke on the cusp of the next national holiday- Martin Luther King Day.

And so it goes.

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