Like always, my husband is involved in another internet war. Normally I stay out of these because I just don’t have the patience for it, especially if it’s politics. But his most recent firestorm has caught my attention because I understand where he’s coming from and I don’t think most of his “twitter friends”- (these strangely invisible people who tell all their business to complete strangers for reasons I don’t understand) as he calls them- do.
This discussion began when a “friend” of his twittered that he had just viewed a YouTube video, set to ancient Arabic music, that set out to prove that Barack Obama was a Muslim. After watching this smut, Shaun’s friend was genuinely stumped as to whether or not Obama was honestly a Muslim or not.
I haven’t read the entire line of discussion, but apparently Shaun reacted strongly against such a notion and others responded to him that he was unfairly criticizing this “friend” and had overreacted. While I of all people know that my husband is prone to theatrics, I do believe that his indignation in this instance is justified. Here’s why:
For YEARS Barack Obama has been introducing himself to the American people. Through memoirs written as long as 8 years ago, to political debates as recently as a few months ago, I believe people know more about Barack Obama than they do any other politician in recent history. His story is so unique that it has been recounted a thousand times over through every outlet imaginable by himself as well as others.
He is a CHRISTIAN. He has been for over 20 years. There is proof of this everywhere…including the highly publicized tapes of his former pastor’s “fiery” sermons. He has said it, his wife has said it, his family has said it, and people who have known him for a very long time have said it and vouched for it. And guess what? After all of this it’s still not good enough!!!! His word and the word of those who know and love him best mean nothing!!!! There is something wrong with that.
Here is what it reminds me of. Christian Amanpour recently visited the Middle East and spoke with women who told her that it was LAW in their country that in court their testimony was worth only half that of a man’s. Meaning it takes two women to argue their case against one man. I think that everyone reading this would agree that this is sexist and egregious. Yet people in this country are being treated the same way.
I’m wondering why it is that John McCain can just say that he’s a Christian, say that he believes in Christ and people believe it when there is little to no proof of such beliefs. WHO is John McCain’s pastor? What church does he belong to? Where are his tithing records (Barack’s have already been made public)? When was John McCain baptized? What part of his life bear’s Christian fruit (he is known as one of the most foul mouthed, hot tempered men in the Senate, and he’s a divorcee who left his wife for another woman). WHAT, other than his say so and a well prepped performance at the Rick Warren forum makes him a Christian?
Yet here you have Barack Obama who is probably more like a traditional Christian than any other presidential candidate in recent history-publicly baptized over 20 years ago, a consistent member of 1 church, a tither, a faithful husband to 1 wife, a mild tempered, agreeable man that no one (not even his harshest critics) can make one immoral claim against- has his Christianity questioned at every turn. Why is his word, better yet his life’s testament, worth half of that as John McCain’s, and Sarah Palin’s for that matter?
How well do you know her? None of you had ever heard of her until 2 weeks ago. Yet, suddenly she is the hero is the Christian right? That is amazing to me. All she has to do is say she believes, say the right things- even though her teenage daughter is pregnant, she is currently under investigation for a potentially corrupt decision, and there are pictures of her children at parties binge drinking circulating the internet-and people automatically believe she is who she SAYS she is. Why is that? Why is her word worth so much more than Barack Obama’s? Why, after all this time, would a crappy YouTube video still sway one of Shaun’s Twitter friends?
I’ll tell you why. It’s because he doesn’t look like you. Hear me, I am not calling you a racist. That word has a lot of power behind it (lynchings and discrimination) that I would not assign to you and people like you. But I do think that your willingness to so easily question the testimony of Obama while wholeheartedly buying into the “Christian” claims of his political rivals -even though their lives don’t bear it out -reveals at the very least a racial bias. Honestly, it’s a racial bias that I believe we all share. I have a preconditioned tendency to respond to people who look like me and share a similar life background. I have had stereotypical ideas about Asians, Hispanics, and middle easterners. While I know rationally that people are not some racial monolith, it doesn’t keep me from making judgments about them in certain situations even if I don’t mean to.
I don’t think that it’s necessarily your fault that many of you have this instinctive distrust of Barack Obama- who I guarantee you know more about than you know about Sarah Palin. I think the sordid racial history of this country and the continual negative portrayal of black people (especially black men) on TV, music, and everywhere else, doesn’t leave room for much else. You trust what John McCain says because somewhere in the recesses of your mind he is familiar to you. He looks like your uncle (or better yet your grandfather). Sarah Palin looks like your aunt, or maybe she reminds you of your wife. I’m not being accusatory. I am guilty of the same things. I know Michele Obama. I see myself in her. When I see her children with cornrows in their heads, it reminds me of my girls. When I hear her story of growing up in a poor, black area of town, I can picture the scene. I’ve lived it. So it automatically gives her some level of credibility with me. I am instantly more comfortable with her than I am with Sarah Palin. It’s not just because she’s black. But it certainly helps because I am too, and I know what that means.
Whether you know it or not, Shaun’s Twitter friends hold the same racial biases. The reason Shaun reacted so strongly is because whatever you think about Barack Obama in this regard, you also think about me, and him, and our friends and family, and on a level that probably doesn’t make sense to most of you, that really hurts. Most black people grew up with their parents telling them that you have to be twice as good as a white person in order to receive their same level of accolade and recognition. What hurts is that I didn’t want to believe it, but time and time again, life has shown me that it is true. This situation is no different. Barack can say he is a Christian until he is blue in the face. He can live a life that bares it out on so many levels, and it still won’t matter. John McCain can say it with no proof, Sarah Palin can come out of nowhere and make a few claims regardless of what the details of her life currently say, and you believe it lock, stock and barrel. I hope you take an honest look at yourself and ask why.