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Trolling for Assassins
The Angry Right Goes Biblical
Please read previous pieces titled The Echo Chamber and Obama Wins the Heisman Trophy for confirmation that I am no Obamaphile. I try to avoid “political stylings,” in fact. I don’t really like writing about American politics and these stories don’t do well on hubpages.com. I’d rather write about the Oakland Raiders cheerleaders or the Red Hot Chili Peppers new guitarist. But this time I’m compelled.
Last November, the Psalm 109.8 excrement started making the internet rounds in a large way, picking up cable news coverage and vast blog attention. When I returned to Indianapolis from New Mexico for Christmas, I first saw the bumper sticker, “Pray for Obama, Psalm 108.9,” on a dirty black Chevy truck in the rural northern scrublands of Texas and then a few more sightings in the suburbs around Oklahoma City, slapped on the backs of Toyotas and mini-vans. Via email, I’ve been hit with a forwarded version of the Old Testament psalm myself at least twice. If you’re not familiar with Psalm 108.9, it’s catchy. It reads: “Let his days be few; and let another take his office. Let his children be fatherless and his wife a widow.” Online, the instructions that come with it: “Pray this for President Obama.” Subtle. And abhorrent beyond comprehension.
Where to begin
If Obama gets murdered, will anyone be surprised really? When Kennedy was killed in Dallas almost fifty years ago, the country was stunned, muted and grief-stricken. But with Obama, I remember on election night, 2008, hearing from friends who were elated that he’d been elected who then said in their next breath, “He’ll probably get killed soon.” The notion, in this radically polarized country, that this president, a moderate liberal, is living on borrowed time seems fairly widespread.
Fear and Loathing on AM radio
My first glimpse into the depths of hatred Obama inspires came in southern Indiana a few weeks before he triumphed over John McCain. Limited reception in the area required a foray into the netherworld of AM radio. What I found there was a shocking hate-filled diatribe against Obama that didn’t even attempt to thinly veil its opposition to him on matters as fundamental as his race, his middle name and the fact that his father came from Kenya. No political issues were discussed, just a repetitive barrage against what Obama was as a person: a product of inter-racial sex, a “foreigner”, a “liberal,” his middle name of Hussein, and that he was a “secret Muslim.”
The ignorance and fear coming through the radio were palpable. My friends and I were silent, eyes wide and mouths agape, realizing this is the message rural America hears day in, day out. Maybe they already believed all of this anyway, but it was certainly being hammered home.
For the record
Barack Obama was born in Hawaii, not Kenya. Honolulu, USA. Yes, he is the product of interracial sex. I want to say, “Get over it,” yet I’m trying not to overtly editorialize and stick to facts. Obama’s middle name is a tribute to his grandfather, who was named Hussein. His mother is from Kansas and his father from Kenya. They met at the University of Hawaii and got married. Each was enrolled there. They divorced when Obama was three and his father went on to receive a PhD in economics from Harvard and returned to Kenya where he served as a government minister. He died in a car wreck there in 1982. His mother, still in Hawaii, met a man from Indonesia and remarried. The military dictator of Indonesia called all of its foreign study residents back home in 1967. As a result, young Barack Obama lived in Indonesia from ages 6-10. His first three years he attended a Catholic school and his final year, a state (public) school. Indonesia is a Muslim country and not surprisingly, Obama’s step-father also followed Islam. The fact that Obama lived there for four years as a youth, plus his middle name, and step-father’s religious affiliation, serve as a basis for a thriving cottage industry on the internet selling the “Obama is a secret Muslim” message. Obama has been the member of the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago since 1992.
The silence is deafening
Back to Psalm 109.8. I have many friends, acquaintances and colleagues that support the Republican Party. To a person they say things like, “I don’t support Rush Limbaugh” or “Glen Beck is an idiot.” They aren’t the far right, in other words. Yet the moderate, responsible, adult wing of the GOP has been inexplicably silent in response to the violence supported by the 109.8 crowd.
Where is a Mitt Romney or a John McCain or a Bobby Jindal here? For that matter, where is Sarah Palin? She rightly speaks out against Fox-TV’s Family Guy for a gutless, cruel reference to Down’s Syndrome and against Letterman for risqué remarks linking her daughter with Alex Rodriguez for a few cheap laughs. In both instances, I support her. Now where is she when the murder of the occupant of the White House is being promoted under a perverted religious façade?
Wrong is wrong. And it’s time for the would-be leadership of the Republican Party to say so. In the early 1950s, even President Dwight Eisenhower was afraid to tackle his party’s chief bully, Senator Joseph McCarthy. McCarthy’s perceived power in rooting out communists had the entire GOP silent to his overt abuses of power. The fear existed that anyone calling out McCarthy would then be labeled as soft on communism and thus be politically vulnerable, if not politically dead. Do leading Republicans harbor that same fear today from the Glen Beck/ FOX News far right wing of the party? In the vacuum of any resistance, the Psalm 108.9 message will become “legitimized” to its audience.
In the most recent instance that Psalm 109.8 was forwarded to me, it contained a postscript of “lol.” That came from a conservative friend. I took the “lol” to be his attempt at conveying, “I don’t want Obama killed, but isn’t this funny?” No, it’s not funny. On a blog I saw the sentiment defended as follows: “It’s in the Old Testament. I didn’t make it up so don’t blame me for supporting it.” Misogyny, beatings of all ilk, polygamy, and all manor of other mayhem including eye-gouging are described in the Old Testament that we now consider barbaric and certainly illegal.
The hate that hate produced
The red states versus blue states reality is entrenched. Sides have been chosen and they are dug in deeply. The rhetoric is getting less respectful. Joe Wilson, a GOP congressman from South Carolina, couldn’t restrain himself from yelling “You lie” at Obama during a nationally televised speech last September. Two months later, a Biblical passage was used to promote Obama’s murder.
Going back to Representative Wilson’s claim, it is undoubtedly correct that Obama has lied about something or some things, both before and after being elected president. (Undoubtedly Wilson has too.) The remark was in regard to a speech promoting health care. I can’t recall what Wilson thought Obama was lying about, but he obviously felt strongly about it at the time. George W. Bush undoubtedly lied about having absolute knowledge that weapons of mass destruction existed in Iraq and used that prevarication to garner both public and congressional support for the US invasion of that country in 2002-03. Bill Clinton’s lying under oath – perjury– over his sexual liaison with Paula Jones led to the impeachment circus in his second term. Recall Nixon and Watergate? Reagan and the Iran-Contra Affair? Lying is certainly not the exclusive domain of one party or the other, nor is it anything new. And no representative of congress dared yell “You lie!” at any of Obama’s predecessors.
What is it really?
I wonder why the vitriolic hatred for Obama exists. The president is hardly a “black revolutionary” – he’s about as black as Steve Urkel from the ‘80s show, Family Matters. And the funniest/ least logical thing I hear him labeled as is a “Socialist.” Many Democrats, especially those farther to the left, abhor Obama for his lack of liberal principles. Socialist? I’ve yet to hear anyone use that word to describe Obama who actually knows what it means. Check out Oslo, Norway, or Helsinki, Finland, in person and then get back to me on how you think socialism operates. You’ll never think of Obama as a “socialist” again afterward. Obama caved in on the “public option” for health care as soon as he hit the inevitable opposition, for instance. Che Guevara he’s not.
So what is it? McCain lost. Accept it. The Democrats had to after the electoral college, Florida recounts, and the Supreme Court denied Gore the presidency in 2000. Moveon.org – Obama is going to be president until January 20, 2013 but you can vote him out in November 2012 if you can convince enough other Americans to believe as you do. That’s assuming Obama’s children aren’t fatherless by then.