From the moment Barack Obama declared his campaign for president in 2007, the hate mongrels came out of the sewers and began attacking him. That happens every election cycle here in the United States. But, this time was different. It became particularly vicious. The level of animosity was so intense the Secret Service granted him protection almost immediately. It was the earliest in which the agency had ever provided security to a presidential candidate. Technically, Hillary Clinton holds that record, but – as a former First Lady – she already had Secret Service protection. Then, Obama won, and the hate got worst.
I think it shocked many old time politicians – especially in the Southeast – that even a half-blooded Negro could attain the highest elected office in the nation. Yes, in most cases, it really is about race. But, it appalled many in the old guard; the self-proclaimed protectorates of all that is sacred and holy in America who cry freedom and independence for everyone in this great land, but – deep down inside – only reserve it for a handful of select individuals.
This kind of sentiment was the genesis for the “birther” movement and ultimately the Tea Party crowd. They didn’t like that Barack Obama’s father had been born in Kenya, a nation on Africa’s eastern flank. But, although his mother was born and raised in Kansas, the birther clan insisted the junior Obama was born in Kenya, too; that his parents had met here in the U.S. and then – for some ungodly reason – traveled all the way back to Kenya to have their son and then, returned to the United States. In other words, it’s part of some vast left-wing conspiracy. Notice the birther goons didn’t highlight the fact that John McCain was born in the Panama Canal Zone, or make an issue of the fact Mitt Romney’s father was born in México. In the minds of these people, it seems Latin America is a despicable entity on the same scale as Africa.
Many Black Americans collectively shook their heads at the fiasco. It’s an extension of the belief that many Blacks – as well as others – always get special treatment from the federal government; that things are handed to them on a silver platter and they really haven’t had to work for it. In other words, they’ve done something outside of the norm to achieve their success. It’s not genuine; it’s manufactured. They couldn’t possibly have done it on their own; they had to have help. Whenever disenfranchised groups have succeeded in business or politics, questions often fall upon the veracity of their accomplishments. Did they really do all that work? They couldn’t possibly have the same degree of intellect and fortitude as White males. It’s affirmative action gone awry.
Thus, when Obama won in 2008, many of the old guard claimed that something dubious must have occurred. I suspect if Obama had been a full-blooded Caucasian whose father was born in Europe, we wouldn’t be having this discourse. But, even if, say, he was a full-blooded Negro whose father had been born in Nashville or Atlanta with the surname Smith, I’m sure someone somewhere would cry foul. Obama just can’t win that particular battle. Bigotry is as tough as a diamond sometimes; it takes so much pressure to break it.
But, despite the unpleasant nature of it all, it’s a necessary dilemma; a requisite bad chapter for our nation to undergo as we continue our march forward. We’ll probably encounter this same mess with the first Hispanic president (Ann Coulter’s worst nightmare), the first Native American president, the first Asian, the first female, the first Jewish, the first Muslim, the first Hindu, and the first openly gay or lesbian. They’ll all face similar angst from the old guard who just don’t like the fact America is becoming more diverse and can’t believe that anyone aside from White heterosexual Christian males are actually able to lead the richest, most powerful country on Earth. Never mind that White heterosexual Christian males are, in fact, a demographic minority in the U.S. and have been for some time. So Barack Obama has become a martyr of sorts in the name of true American freedom. He’s been crucified and demonized more than any other Chief Executive. He’s endured more disrespect – from Donald Trump refusing to look at a copy of Obama’s birth certificate to Jan Brewer jutting a crooked finger into the president’s face and later crying that he “intimidated” her.
And, in a very sad way, it has to happen. It’s part of our growth and maturity as a nation. The pathways toward equality and freedom are paved with rocks, not velvet.