Monday, February 25, 2008

obama for president?

Maybe. At least if he won it would be a victory against the bigotry and nationalism that is now being used to attack him. There is this photo of him in Somali garb that is circulating on the internet. Big deal - check out Bush and Putin ( below right).

Then there are the claims that he is unpatriotic. For me, when Americans talk about "patriotism" they are usually, perhaps unwittingly, really talking about "nationalism." The brand of "nationalism" that seeps into the realm of fascism, racism and xenophobia - America: Love It Or Leave It; England for the English; and so on. It tends to be uncritical of a nation's problems or excesses and a belief in global superiority is at its core: We're the best and all those other countries (or sometimes peoples) suck.

Then there is all the symbolism - flags, flag pins, flag bumper stickers, eagles, eagles with flags clutched in their claws, etc. This is what is getting Obama into trouble. He just isn't white enough, doesn't seem like the type that drives an SUV, and it is hard to picture him landing on an aircraft carrier wearing a flight jacket. Thus the photo from Africa, and the critique that he doesn't wear an American flag pin, and once sang the National Anthem but didn't put his hand on his chest. Frankly I would support him more if he remained seated and didn't sing the song at all, but I'm kind of left wing like that.

Then there is the statement from his wife: "For the first time in my adult life, I am really proud of my country." What? Hasn't she been exceedingly proud of her country for the past 50 years, throughout the awe inspiring pursuit of freedom we've led in Southeast Asia, Central America and now the Middle East? Wasn't she proud of our brave young men and women in Iraq when the Abu Graib photos were published? Doesn't it fill her heart with joy to hear that America does indeed waterboard prisoners and practices extraordinary rendition?

Of course, all of this is pretty tame stuff - Obama is still a candidate collecting loads of corporate money, giving Israel a pass, and threatening Pakistan among other countries. But check out his response: "As far as the American flag pin, I mean, when we start getting into those definitions of patriotism, that’s a debate I am happy to have, because what I will come right back to them is: a party that resided over a war which our troops did not get the body armor they needed or were sending troops over who were untrained because of poor planning or not fulfilling the veterans benefits that these troops need when they come home or undermining our constitution with warrantless wiretaps that are unnecessary. That is a debate I am very happy to have."

It kind of sounds like he isn't completely backing down. He isn't doing what I've come to expect from Democrats whenever they are accused of being less than patriotic, war-like, tough-on-crime, meat-eating, free-marketeers - running away with tail between legs and/or executing a mentally retarded inmate and/or bombing a country with 1/1000th the military power of one of our aircraft carriers. There is something there that is making me think long and hard about whether I'm going to cast my protest vote for a Green or, as I did in 2004, for Leonard Peltier. I'm not running out to campaign for Obama - there are far too many important political fights going on to divide up my attention right now besides presidential politics - but I am thinking.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

No way, dude! Don't be fooled by Obama's twisted version of a romantic imperialist ideology like that of JFK's. There's nothing radical or revolutionary about Obama, and in fact, I'd claim Hilary at least has a decent immigration perspective (speaking of its relation to domestic job loss, not punishing employers, etc.).

The whole ethnic/national outfit ordeal against Obama right now is another example of how he NEVER racializes anything outside of the 60's Civil Rights movement. And honestly, even that appears to be more tokenizing than actually having a radical analysis or perspective on race and racism. That is the scariest thing! When Hilary was saying "isn't this the black and brown debate?" in Vegas, Obama was balking at a question about Black youth gun violence that was handed to him in a platter. At best, Obama answered the question like any moderate Republican would.

thanks for the thoughtful blogs!

Revolution = Cynthia McKinney.
Predictable 4 years of fighting = Hilary Clinton.
JFK unpredictable romantic imperialism = Barack Obama.

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