The title on the cover of the New York Daily News could not have been more emphatic. In big bold letters read the following words:
The words alluded to the surprise release the other day by the White House of President Obama’s long-form birth certificate that confirmed what every thinking and sane person already knew and were directed squarely at Donald Trump and the entire birther movement, the latter of which has for almost two years engaged in the most overt display of racism witnessed in this nation in over a generation. Not since the 1960s has this segment of the population been this open and transparent about the extent of their ignorance.
As for Trump, well let’s just say his ignorance and arrogance are second only to his innate ability to shamelessly promote himself and sensationalize an issue he deems important enough, with all the tactfulness of a whore turning tricks on 42nd Street. In the birther movement he found the perfect canker sore and rubbed it till it bled. Any other man would’ve took the hint and shut up after the White House announcement. Not Trump. He persisted in his stance, even taking credit for the release, saying how proud he was of himself. And, in true Trump style, he dug the hole still deeper by insisting that Obama should now disclose his college records.
Buffoons, all of them. And that is why, despite the demand by the Daily News, I have some bad news for all of you. They will never shut up, and the reason should be crystal clear. This was never about a birth certificate, or, as in the latest and offensive demand by Trump, college records. This was and has been about the fact that a black man is living in the White House and running the United States of America. Period.
In September of 2009 I wrote the following piece, titled, It’s not a political circus, Mr. President! While I was critical of Obama on several fronts, I was particularly alarmed at the growing hatred being directed at him from the Right.
“Like most political pundits, we all figured that the true test of the nation was whether we were mature and advanced enough to elect an African American to the office of President. What we did not count on was that the real test would not come until you actually assumed the office. It was at that moment that we as a nation came face to face with an even uglier truth about ourselves: that there were certain elements in our society that simply could not accept being governed by a black man, especially a black man who is the chief executive of the country. They are mad as hell and they aren’t shy about strutting their racism.”
No, they aren’t shy, are they? And that is why they will never shut up and why they will never go away. The classic mistake many otherwise rational but naïve people often make with respect to such groups is that somehow tuning them out and ignoring them, or, as was the case with the Daily News, telling them to shut up, has any impact whatsoever. It doesn’t and it never will.
Hatred never heeds to reason, because it is lost in its own make believe world of self-justification. In the 1930s, a deeply disturbed man with a laughable mustache managed to convince an entire nation that the Jews were responsible for the problems that were besetting them. Facts were irrelevant. The only thing that mattered was his intense hatred and need for scapegoating. Before he was done, six million people had been murdered and all of Europe was in ruins.
That’s the way all racists work. They desperately need to blame others for what is wrong. It is the only way they can reconcile the volatile emotions that reside within them. And while Donald Trump may seem like just your run of the mill publicity hound looking to cash in on yet another gimmick, the fuse he is fanning has been burning for centuries.
More than 150 years have passed since the beginning of the Civil War, and still, even after all these years, the nation has never truly healed from its wounds. Whatever your take on how and why the war started – and I for one see it more from a sociological perspective than a purely racial one – know this much: the bitterness that existed within the South back then is alive and well in many parts of it today, as well as, sadly, parts of the North. To these people Barack Obama represents a lightning rod in the middle of a gigantic thunderstorm: a thunderstorm that continues to rage unabated and unrelenting.
And before this storm runs its course, it may well end up consuming the whole damn country.