The irrational and horrific assaults on the character of President Obama, the first African American President in the nation’s history, seem ill conceived and apparently inexplicable. President Obama, the man, has repeatedly demonstrated his intelligence, tenacity and integrity. He has also shown that he has the welfare and well being of the American people very much in mind in crafting his approach to governance. This is in marked contrast to his predecessor who demonstrated his complete lack of compassion in regards to the actual plight of so many Americans. As a matter of fact, his policies had effectively worsened the living conditions of those already facing severe economic hardship.
The extreme fear and threats of violence and armed confrontation made by those who would benefit the most by the kinds of reforms Obama is proposing can be readily explained if the origin of these intense feelings is racism. For many whites, battered by the new economic reality, poorly educated and enveloped in a homogeneous social environment in which extremist Christian fundamentalist ideology thrives, the rapidly changing world of the twenty-first century is extremely daunting. They are collectively fearful. These fears are compounded and fueled by ignorance. What makes the situation apparently unbearable to those susceptible to the crazed references to socialism, communism and even fascism is that their President is an extremely intelligent and highly articulate black man. This unavoidable fact is unconscionable, for the black man is supposed to be beneath them and intrinsically inferior to them. This reality turns their essential perception of reality on its head and is very frightening.
The lynch mob mentality is apparently not dead. The nation has cause for concern, since powerful interests, who are threatened by the Obama presidency for obvious and understandable reasons, are unabashedly exploiting this fear that often seems to approach mass hysteria. The nation, polarized in this way, may continue to stagnate and may ultimately regress to a time when violence dominated the political landscape. National policies must be guided by reason and compassion if we ever hope to progress as a humane society. The President is only one man, but the national destiny is in the hands of all of us.