At first, for a fleeting second, the irony seemed delicious. A sycophant of Mitt Romney, the American candidate with foreign bank accounts, says, “I wish this President would learn how to be an American.” But this quickly turned ugly. It was worse than being called “nigger.” That word has a history, is anchored in the nation’s fabric, is a backlash that marked progress, represents barriers climbed and conquered, and sounds the warnings that those who lynch and burn are coming again. That word has hate but has a life tied to the blood and sweat spilled as a people moved from slavery to freedom. It is a racial slur but it is also a moral compass that marks the cliff, the place America has currently claimed as too far. Ironically, it was a common public word in the 19th century. It routinely appeared in newspapers and in conversation.
But there is no fleeting irony or routine sentiment in John Sununu’s view of our President’s past. His is the kind of insubordination and attitude for which those enslaved were physically whipped or put on wheels, punished within an inch of their lives, but he drew his bias with impunity:
“He has no idea how the American system functions, and we shouldn’t be surprised about that, because he spent his early years in Hawaii smoking something, spent the next set of years in Indonesia, another set of years in Indonesia, and, frankly, when he came to the U.S. he worked as a community organizer, which is a socialized structure.”
To which a reader of the Atlantic replied, “Romney needs more Sununus.”
Hatred meet causal indifference, a hate that does not have to be inflamed, but is a snack food, a lollipop flavor, easily consumed for its comfort, embraced by its supporters with a smug revelation that the sky will not fall in their hatred of undeserving, non-American (or American!) Negroes. So hate is the new feel-good fitness track, the workout that makes others sweat, the stress reliever of American politics. It has taken on a creative life. But its purpose is the same: to strip anyone who isn’t ideologically white of any shelf space in American life. Hate is the post-date expiration for the American dream.
Hate is a big, powerhouse brand that claims it is really quality control. It is sold in this era as a security watch. It brings its diagnostic check list of disqualifers, of things that dilute the quantity of life if rubbed against the skin.
So for Barack Obama, even his family, for all that is America, for those who challenge its greed, these experiences and ideas of equality, diversity, liberty, progress, freedom has expired. Hate is viral and virulent; it is confrontational and indirect. It incubates and lies dormant. It mutates. It is a parasite of popular appeal. Because there is no national shame, few voices that identify or warn of its dangers, it spreads unchecked, as the unseen social epidemic. Its wholly owned by one side. To break up its monopoly is called playing the race card, but hate trumps race.
Hate is also a suicide pact by Limbaugh, Sununu, and others who believe hatred is worth dying for. Because hate is the antidote to truth (an irony again!), it must be kept alive. It is the media’s noose. If truth is killed on the gallows by hate, then so be it, then power is preserved.