Wednesday, August 27, 2008

How ugly can “America” be?

Three men are in federal custody in Denver, as officials say they suspect the trio was hatching a plot to try to shoot presidential hopeful Barack Obama while he gave his acceptance speech Thursday at the Democratic National Convention.

Now it is true that these three particular individuals (who currently only face unlawful use of weapons-type charges) were probably not a serious threat.

LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT officials say that while they had rifles and scopes for long-distance shooting, there was so much about their “plot” that was unplanned that it was highly unlikely they would have been able to get their act together in time to do anything harmful to Obama.

But the fact that white supremacists (the three in custody are being judged that largely because of the specific tattoos, including swastikas, they have on their bodies) would even concoct such a scheme is telling.

The ugly underside of “The American Way of Life” is exposed. And while I will admit that not everybody who has a problem with Obama because of his biracial background is prepared to try to kill him, perhaps it is time we quit trying to ignore the fact that race is an issue in this presidential campaign in a way it never has been in the past.

Reading through the often incoherent (and almost always anonymous) ramblings of the white supremacist movement creates a picture of pathetic men desperately eager to take up their firearms and use them on black people. These people want a racial war, and are looking for an excuse to claim they were attacked.

INSOFAR AS OBAMA is concerned, there are the generic rants that he needs to be killed, or pleas that someone should do it. Of course, these anonymous people make an effort to stop themselves before saying they would commit such an act.

Even those white supremacists who are able to accept the fact that Obama could win the general election see violence breaking out. The presence of a President Obama would infuriate them to the point of taking action.

Since so much of this is anonymous, it is easy to give credit to one of the few ramblings where the author had the nerve to put his name on his thoughts. That would be David Duke, the one-time Klansman-turned-Louisiana politico-turned activist on behalf of his race.

“Obama will be a clear signal for millions of our people,” Duke wrote earlier this summer on his personal website. “Obama is a visual aid for white Americans who just don’t get it yet that we have lost control of our country, and unless we get it back we are heading for complete annihilation as a people.”

NOW I’M NOT claiming that people who support Republican opponent John McCain are racist or white supremacist or any kind of “ist.” In fact, I would guess that the real racists have just as many problems with McCain as they do any other candidate.

Duke, in the same essay, says Obama is “not appreciably different” in his views than either Hillary R. Clinton or McCain, and, “no worse for us than any of the white sell-outs” who have been elected to political office in the past.

That also is why it did not surprise me to learn that the estranged wife of one of the Denver Trio claimed her husband was ‘apolitical” and probably didn’t even know the Democrats were gathering in Denver for their nominating convention.

He probably did have no interest in conventional electoral politics that comprise the real “American Way” of life. These would-be racists who are willing to use the imagery of the Nazi era in Germany are fascists as opposed to the concept of Democracy as anyone on this planet.

THESE ARE THE people whose only interest in politics and government is staging (in their wildest fantasies) some sort of armed coup de tat that allows them to impose themselves as Leader of the Universe, with their first order being the extermination of people unlike themselves.

It sounds like the plot of a half-wit video game. It would be laughable, if it weren’t so real.

There is an ugly streak that exists in this country. Now if it were just a matter of some pathetic twits wanting to live their lives in a cave isolated from the rest of us, it would be no problem. Permitting that IS the “American Way.”

It is when those people become a risk to the public safety that they must be dealt with as criminals. So I’m not particularly interested in hearing people claim that the three men in federal custody who were caught with riflescopes in Denver are being persecuted for their beliefs.

ALTHOUGH AFTER READING many racist rants off the Internet, I suspect the Denver Trio will not be regarded as martyrs for “the cause” as much as they will be subjected to derision from the supremacists for failing so badly to hatch a plot against Obama.

There was one part of Duke’s commentary that I think needs serious response.

He wrote that he believes Obama’s presence as a legitimate presidential candidate will cause white people to start thinking more blatantly about racial issues when they vote. “The minorities have long had this consciousness,” Duke wrote. “They have been voting in blocs for decades. Now, it is our turn.”

I don’t buy it, largely because of the example I have seen in Chicago where our local politics turned ugly and focused heavily on race (remember Council Wars?)

YET NO AFRICAN-American public official since Harold Washington has had to endure the blatantly hostile attitudes of white Chicago, largely because we got to see firsthand that a “black mayor” was not a radical concept that would drive the city into bankruptcy. It also helps that a lot of white people think back to the things they said and did back then, and now wonder how they could have been so ridiculous.

It was an embarrassing era that many in the Second City would not want to repeat.

I have wondered to myself if a President Obama is a sign that the nation is going to go through the same experience in the upcoming decade. Will Obama get such a hostile reaction from Congressional opponents that people will look back on the Bill Clinton years by comparison as an era of bipartisan cooperation?

Will we later look back and realize how ridiculous it all is?

IF SO, THEN maybe there is a benefit, although I will feel sorry for Obama himself, since it would mean subjecting himself to an ordeal unlike anything ever experienced before.

I must confess, however, to seeing one semi-humorous element concerning the Denver Trio – their timing.

They were arrested on Monday, the same day that potential first lady Michelle Obama spoke about her husband to the Democratic National Convention in what was perceived by some pundits as an attempt to revise the strident public image they were eager to give her.

Having to be reminded of the racial attitudes of the past on the same day she spoke was yet more anecdotal evidence that Michelle was not being absurd when she said earlier this year during a campaign event in Wisconsin that the positive response her husband’s campaign received made her “proud” for the first time in her adult life to be an American.


EDITOR’S NOTES: These two commentaries provide a sampler of some of the types of hostile rhetoric ( that exists on the Internet from white supremacists concerning Barack Obama. Following the links and digging deeper will take you into a ( world that will (at the very least) give you an intense headache.

Three men are in federal custody, even though the wife of one insists her (,fbi082608.article) estranged husband was “apolitical.”

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