The crescent moon set shortly after sunset, so the sky was full of dark, and stars, that stubbornly persisted, even as the day brightened, when Koko and I went walking this morning. Waialeale was topped with just a wisp of white, although the gray shimmer of a shower could be seen on its northern flank, and Makaleha was clear, as was a narrow band above the ocean, but above that were balls and piles of white and gray that muted the sunrise to soft shades of lavender.
Would that the same were true of the vitriol directed toward President Obama. Instead, it’s steadily escalating in intensity as the ugliest aspects of human nature are whipped up into a frenzy by people who want to hate. And amid it all, I’m recalling some of the nastiness that was focused on Bush. Did it not bother me so much because I thought he deserved it? Or is the hatred toward Obama more noxious and worrisome because it seems to be rooted in racism, and angry white guys have a history of killing black men in this country?
“I think that an overwhelming proportion of the intensely-demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man, he’s African-American,” Mr Carter told NBC television, in a potentially explosive intervention in national politics.
“I live in the South, and I have seen the South come a long way. But that racism inclination still exists, and I think it has bubbled up to the surface because of a belief among many white people, not just in the South but across the country, that African-Americans are not qualified to lead this great country.
The ante is upped when that racism is wedded to the creed of the reactionary religious right:
Steven Anderson, the pastor of the Faithful Word Baptist Church in Arizona, preached a sermon last month entitled "Why I hate Barack Obama", in which he declared, "I'm going to pray he dies and goes to hell".
Unfortunately, some people take the hate-mongers seriously, which is why you get guys like Chris Broughton, one of the Faithful Word’s faithful, showing up at Obama's speech last month carrying a semi-automatic assault rifle.
And it further escalates when you’ve got rabid media “personalities,” who say any kine, ad nausem:
Glenn Beck, a television personality working at the Fox news network, says on the air that Obama is a "racist" with a "deep-seated hatred for white people".
Beck is the same guy who is championing the “9/12 Project” movement, which for some bizarre reason advocates returning to that shell-shocked, numb, TV-fixated place that many Americans were in after the World Trade Center went down. You know, shortly before President Bush exhorted us to go shopping.
Um, no thanks. Remember how crappy the economy was then, and how many little American flags China had to produce so folks could prove their patriotism?
Put it all together, and you’ve got a dangerous mix. Conservatives are saying that the left was mean and disrespectful to Bush. Liberals are saying that racism is nothing new and cuts both ways.
But we can’t ignore the fact that Obama, as the first African-American president, provides a focal point for racist hate, in a way that hasn’t been true of past presidents. Nor can we forget that the death threat rate in the Obama Administration is 400 percent higher than it was under Bush.
The man is facing real risks that go beyond rudeness and politics as usual. To trivialize or dismiss that is to heighten his jeopardy.