Since white Tea Party/Fox News/Republican Party America lynched President Obama in slow motion over the last 7 years, what chance did Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, who was shot and killed on Aug. 9, by Darren Wilson, a white police officer, in Ferguson, Mo., a suburb of St. Louis have?
Eric Garner’s dying words “I can’t breathe” as he was succumbing to a police officer’s chokehold reverberated in a wave of anger after a Staten Island grand jury declined to indict the officer. Are you surprised? I’m not. Cops and prosecutors are white and live on another planet than black men and women.
If the civil, kind, humble, compassionate, moderate, articulate, black intellectual we’re lucky enough to have in the White House, can be be lynched by a campaign of non-stop lies any black man can and will be.
What chance does an anonymous black man pulled over in a traffic stop have of fair treatment when the former editor of the Harvard Law Review is being lynched because he’s black?
Establishment darling, southern gentleman, scholar and author Jon Meacham had no trouble getting on talk shows to pitch his book extolling the virtues of the serial rapist and slave owner Thomas Jefferson.
What else do you call sex with a fourteen year old black slave, but rape? What else do you call shooting young black men in could blood than murder?
So how fitting it is that at the university founded by a serial rapist–the University of Virginia–the federal government is investigating UVA for Title IX violations, including the mishandling of sexual assault allegations. Of course these days its white women getting raped so the school takes it seriously. When Jefferson raped his 14 year old slave the attitude was she should be grateful for the attention of such a fine man.
Should President Obama be grateful too?
On talk shows Meacham would excuse his favorite rapist/slave-owner’s exploits with the old lie that those were “different times…” so we can’t expect Jefferson to have…” you know the rest.
Those times were actually not different than our times. We are a racist culture of people who can still murder black men with seeming impunity.
I’ve watched liberal and right wing commentators alike blame the president for being lynched. They say “he’s not reaching out enough” or “he’s too cold.” It’s the equivalent of assuming that the black man being beaten by a couple of thug cops must have “done something.” I am a white privileged well off sixty-two-year-old former Republican religious right wing activist who changed his mind about religion and politics long ago. The New York Times profiled my change of heart saying that to my former friends I’m considered a “traitorous prince” since my religious right family was once thought of as “evangelical royalty.” I’ve written a book on my change of heart: WHY I AM AN ATHEIST WHO BELIEVES IN GOD: How to give love, create beauty and find peace. In that book I write about “co-suffering love.” No one today exemplifies co-suffering love more to me than President Obama. He has been on the side of the “least of these” as the Bible puts it. I’ve just spent the last 7 years writing over 200,000 words in blogs and articles in support of President Obama. My blogs on the Huffington Post alone would add up to a book in support of the President of over 300 pages. Weirdly, (shame-on-me) I recently realized that through all this writing, this has been the first time in my life I’ve personally gone to bat for a black man. It just happens that he’s a president. But my emotional stake in his life is now personal. So I’ve changed from a white guy who used to read news about some black man getting shot by a cop in a place like Ferguson or beaten by cops or stand-your-ground types who assumed that the black man must have “done something,” to a white guy who figures that the black man was probably getting lynched. I’ve changed ideology but I’ve also changed my gut intuitive reactions. Given what’s been done to President Obama I know know in my gut that Jefferson would be right at home here. Blacks, as he firmly believed are still America’s non-people.
In “different times” rape of slave children was okay? Anti-slavery founder John Adams also went to Paris, but he took no slave child with him. Instead he, like his wife the luminous Abigail Adams, believed that God was judging the colonies for slavery. He too was a so-called man of his times.
Like our times there are choices to be made.
Sally Hemings–at the age of 14 was taken to France by the rapist Jefferson. Hemings spent two years there Jefferson repeatedly raped this child. She eventually bore him 6 children. The rapist Jefferson did not even free his own children until on his deathbed. Did she agree to be a slave? No? Then there’s no way to change the word “rape” to “consensual” sex.
One famous liberal commentator wrote a book on how Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neil could disagree and still be friends. Why, he asked on many a TV show promoting his book, couldn’t President Obama be like that? Because, I yelled at the screen, those two men were white Irish Americans and part of a ruling white oligarchy. Because, I yelled, you might as well ask why Nelson Mandela didn’t talk his jailers in South Africa into seeing reason. Because, I yelled, the President is black and anytime he’s reached out he’s pulled back a bloody stump. Because, I yelled, liberal white commentators have been as bothered by a black man in the White House, who’s smarter than they are as much as right wing bigots have been bothered. Because, I yelled, President Obama has been lied about, attacked, vilified, and disrespected since Day One. Because, I yelled, this country may have passed laws so blacks can vote and eat in a white man’s world, but in our hearts we’re stuck in a place more like 1952 than 2013. We’ve been watching a slow motion lynching of a moderate brilliant family man, a father, and faithful loving husband. And while he’s been lynched by the Republican Party white America has also been on a murder spree against black men. The Republicans in Congress are so dedicated to lynching the President they’ve been willing to shut down our government and risk the future of our economy. Evangelical “Christians” have been so stuck on putting a rope around this black man’s neck they have denied their faith and been the backbone of the lying Tea Party who spawned the so-called “birthers” and the rest of the white people driving our news cycle. Roman Catholic bishops have denied their tradition of helping the poor and been so eager to destroy this president they aligned themselves with white Evangelical bigots and tried to stop health care reform, all because the President wants to give women a fair shake. The bishops even called him “anti-religious” because the president wants insurers to pay for contraception. This is a slow motion lynching of a black man who is so moderate and centrist that he favored Wall Street enough so that the Left is all over his case. He’s so “radical” and “leftist” and “hates America” so much, and “coddles our enemies” so much, that he killed bin Laden and used drones to kill our enemies. He’s such a “socialist” that he presided over the revival of our economy from the worst recession since the Great Depression, and led us to the present day stock market boom. President Obama is such a “Marxist” that he tried to give insurance – not socialized medicine – to all Americans. Unemployment is down, the economy is up, never mind he’s BLACK! President Obama never answered back to the disgusting southern right wing rubes from the former slave states that have tried to belittle, mock and stymie his presidency shouting “You lie” in a million ways, while actually meaning “You lie, nigger!” We have a lot to do to heal this country of the damage done by the right wing Obama-haters and the Left wing know-it-all pundits who did not have his back because they don’t have the honesty to admit that we still live in a backward racist swamp of prejudice. And postFerguson our excuses for racism are fading away. Now the Republicans are threatening to shut down the government again our of spite because the compassionate black man just did the right thing to help the abused immigrants who are here illegally. Maybe in 50 years our country will be worthy of someone of President Obama’s forbearance again. For now we can just hope that the hatred of the Republican Party for our first black president and the way they defend cops who shoot unarmed black men and want to deport millions of hard working brown men and women, doesn’t drive us to the brink of ruin again. God bless you Mr. President. I’m praying for you. I am so very sorry. But take heart, in the long reach of history the door you opened will stay open for the millions of Americans of all colors, genders and beliefs who will follow you. They will bless your name. So will history. And someday a black young man with his hands up won’t be shot in the back of the head.
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Frank Schaeffer is a writer. His latest book —WHY I AM AN ATHEIST WHO BELIEVES IN GOD: How to give love, create beauty and find peace