How naive we were on January 20th to believe that the inauguration of Barack Obama marked the time when had gotten over racial prejudice. We have clearly not.
Instead, wherever we turn, we witness widespread intolerance, much of it real, some of it perceived, all of it the continuing preoccupation of a country that cannot stop looking at a President in terms of black and white.
It’s hard not to notice the sea of nearly all white faces in the various “Tea Parties” and “Taxpayer Protests” or the blatant caricatures and characterizations on the signs they carry and in the hatred of President Obama spewing from those at the irrational health care town meetings.
They are whipped into a frenzy by the bigoted undertones of their champions like Glenn Beck and the other commentators along with the political demagogues that have become leaders of the fringe’s mainstream.
They cheer lustily at the shameless charge of lying on the House floor shouted at this President by Joe Wilson, the Congressman from the South Carolina Low Country (is “South Carolina Low Country” a political redundancy?)
There’s another problem: These white bigots are a DIScredit to their race. There are so many people of good will who have genuinely decent reasons to disagree with the policies of this White House, whether they involve the economy, health care, national security the handling of our wars, what have you.
But those who still have the raw wounds left by centuries of oppression understandably perceive any opposition to a black President as bigotry, even when it is not.
The warm glow of an inauguration that seemed to bring us together has returned to the harsh glare just a few months later that reveals the racial divide that never really left.
How sad it is that a President who tries so hard to make color irrelevant is simply unable to. How tragic for the nation it is that the majority who would love to move on are held prisoner by those who are afraid to and those who cynically exploit their fears.