I used to think that racism was a thing of the past—an idea from a by-gone era that revives images of African Americans fighting for their rights in 1960s Birmingham, Ala.
Yet, recent political events suggest that racism is alive and well in the hearts and minds of millions of Americans who view a black man in the White House as an assault on their freedom and liberty.
On Sept. 12, 2009, almost one million conservative activists took to Washington to protest President Barack Obama’s healthcare plan. For those of you that do not know, these were the same people who interrupted town hall meetings nationwide. That’s right, like Taylor Swift’s speech at the VMAs, these town hall meetings didn’t stand a prayer.
Irrespective of their ideologies, I would normally support these men’s and women’s constitutionally protected free speech rights. However, many individuals came armed with limited knowledge of the problem using an arsenal of hateful language and images.
“Impeach the Muslim Marxist!” “Go back to Africa!” “Undocumented worker!” These were just a few of the many signs that painted the landscape of the Washington Mall that day.
In the same area where Martin Luther King Jr. once spoke of racial equality and harmony, countless posters depicted President Obama as Adolf Hitler and Saddam Hussein. Some posters contained images of the president with stereotypical black physical features.
There is no doubt in my mind that there are reasonable conservatives out there wanting to raise sound objections in a respectful debate on healthcare. However, the onslaught that is being lead against President Obama is being fueled by such media figures as Rush Limbaugh, who unapologetically played a song titled “Obama the Magic Negro” on his radio program and routinely uses pejorative language to characterize the president. These people who marched on Washington view the strength of a black man as an attack on their way of living.
They view the efforts to insure millions who can’t obtain medical care as a slap in the face to the America they know. They think having our president encourage young school-aged children to continue their education is a part of his “socialist agenda.”
None greater are these examples than the deeply rooted racist ideology of this movement. The posters that littered our nation’s capital with false propaganda and bigoted images are the true intentions of this group.
The bullets they use are not ones of reason and honesty, but of ignorance and conceit; the words they employ are of hate and disgust.
And while their lame excuses of so called “socialist agendas” may attempt to mask their true racial sentiments, let’s face it: You’re not fooling anyone. This march and movement is led mainly by white men and women who embody all the things wrong with this country.
Despite what they think, promoting healthcare for all is not going to lead to the demise of our nation; it’s racist attitudes and disrespect for civil discourse that will inevitably be our downfall.
I’d like to think we’ve evolved as a species into more compassionate and understanding beings that can appreciate the value of each person and refrain from irrational judgments. But the more I live, the more I look around, I’ve come to realize that we’re barely out of the forest.
As much as I hate to admit it, the haunting images of Birmingham are as much a part of our future as they are a part of our past.