Why the Visceral Hatred? (update) - And a Bonus Discussion of Healthcare
On August 5 I wrote a post entitled Why the Visceral Hatred? which began with the following:
Why do so many (presumably mostly on the right) have such a visceral hatred for President Obama? It is one thing to disagree with his policies ("I don't like his healthcare proposal because..." or "I don't think that the government should have bailed out the automakers"). I understand those sentiments; they lend themselves to discussion of the issues which is, of course, how the democratic process is supposed to work. But in the case of President Obama, there seems to be something else going on, something dangerous.
I think that the answer really can be found in that little nugget that I decided to ignore when I began this post. Those who hate President Obama never seem to fail to use his middle name. Why is that so important to them? I wonder how many of them can even tell you the middle names of the last handful of Presidents, including what the "Dubya" stands for .... I think that the name "Hussein" reminds people that President Obama is "different" and maybe, just maybe, too much a name used by "the enemy" (I doubt that Richard Nixon would have been elected has his middle name been Stalin or Kruschev, but who knows). Add to that the obvious fact that President Obama is different (remember that whole, "first African-American elected to the Presidency" thing?) and I think you've found the real reason that many people hate him. Who he is, what he looks like, and where he comes from is the proverbial elephant in the room.
I think that many people who may claim not be racist are, in fact, racist, and whether they'll admit it to themselves or not, cannot stand the idea of a "black" in the White House (never mind that he's half-white); nor can they stand the idea that a man whose father was not an African-American, but rather an actual African, and who has a "funny" name that includes a common Arabic or Muslim name associated with a principal US adversary of the past 18 years (remember Saddam Hussein...?).
Some have pointed to the proposed lesson plan for teachers from the Department of Education, focusing on the suggestion that children write a letter discussing "how they could help President Obama". Note that the question does not ask the children how they could help President Obama do __________ (insert your favorite Marxist-Socialist-Fascist-Terrorist goal), but rather, simply how they could help the President. I guess that the fear here may go back to Rush Limbaugh's statement that he wants President Obama to fail. I suppose that parents who support that viewpoint would be upset at their children being asked to talk about how they might help the President rather than how they might hinder the President. I've written before about how cynical that viewpoint is, but think of the lesson that we're teaching our children when we tell them that they should want the President to fail. That is the inverse of teaching patriotism and civic spirit, but it seems that the right only believes in patriotism sometimes.
Remember, too, that we're talking about kids. Do we really worry that some 3rd grader is going to be swayed such that he'll write a letter suggesting he'll help the President by joining the proletariat to throw off the reigns of the bourgeoisie; do we really worry that some 5th grader will be emboldened to write to the government to report that his parents failed to pay the appropriate taxes on their domestic help or illegally downloaded an MP3; and do we really worry that a 9th grader will suddenly become a supporter of publicly-financed abortions for illegal immigrants and ask to sit on a "death panel" to help euthanize grandma? I mean, really. Think about it. If people are so afraid that President Obama could have that kind of influence over their children in the course of a 15-minute speech, what does it say about the influence those people have over their own children?
Which of course leads me back to the initial question. What is it about this President, in particular, that creates this degree of hysteria, fear, and hatred? Why would people presume, on the basis of nothing more than the fact that President Obama planned to speak to schoolchildren and the suggestion that children be asked how they could help the President, that President Obama's speech was some secret plan to indoctrinate children? Why do people presume evil intent?
In a similar vein (though a bit off topic...), consider what the Republicans in Congress did and did not cheer during President Obama's speech. Most importantly, I noted that few if any Republicans applauded when President Obama talked about the fallacy of the "death panel" allegation. Query: Why would anybody not applaud the President for confronting a malicious fabrication that has served to scare elderly Americans? The debunking of this fallacy takes nothing away from legitimate arguments against President Obama's healthcare proposal, so why wouldn't Republicans welcome his efforts to "clear the air" and allow the debate to focus on real issues? The only reason that I can think of is that Republicans don't want to focus on real issues and have relied upon lies and distortions as their only means of combating healthcare reform.
As I was taking a break before finishing this post, I came across a statement from former Gov. Sarah Palin about President Obama's speech that left me ... well ... dumbfounded (that seems an appropriate word given the source):
In his speech the President directly responded to concerns I’ve raised about unelected bureaucrats being given power to make decisions affecting life or death health care matters. He called these concerns “bogus,” “irresponsible,” and “a lie” -- so much for civility.
The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s “death panel” so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their “level of productivity in society,” whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.