You know I am not one to criticize our president. Not this one, anyway. That’s not to say I absolutely adore every last thing he does. It’s not to say I don’t often wish he would go further than he wants to go on certain matters, or that I’d prefer he wouldn’t go at all into other matters.
But I refuse to use any significant portion of my tiny forum here to bitch about Obama’s alleged shortcomings or over-reaches. There has not been a figure in my lifetime who’s been bitched about any more than him already, and I figure at least nine-tenths of it has been unjust and unjustified. Besides, I am confident that any shortcomings he may have are still miles and miles beyond those of his constant critics, and that any over-reaching he’s done most likely didn’t reach far enough.
However, there is one thing he says, and has said repeatedly, that drives me nuts: That’s not who we are
. If my memory serves me, at some point during several recent crises of national conscience—whether it be the tsunami of terrified Central American kids crossing the southern border last summer, the rash of teenage blacks being cut down by men they should be putting their trust in or the release of the intelligence report last week exposing Bush’s CIA as a hellhouse of lies and torture—Obama appealed to the decency of Americans by reminding us That’s not who we are
No, President Obama. That’s not who you
Which is precisely why I have such admiration and respect for him. His intrinsic moral nature comes through like a warm spring day, just as his predecessor’s essentially immoral
nature is as evident as the vacant smirk on his face.
And when he says it—That’s not who we are
—he is partially right about the rest of us. Cruelty, mockery, brutality, racism, the lust to cause others pain, the indifference to others' pain—all those stains on the human soul that lead to such torture and death and violent decadence—that’s not who most
of us are. Most of the time, at least.
And even in those times when we fall under the spell of those baser instincts, most of us would rather not feel those things. Most of us want to be kind and generous, forgiving and tolerant—moral—even under the most difficult of circumstances.
Then there are those who pretend to be kind and generous, forgiving and tolerant, using the pretense for any number of purposes, but usually to benefit themselves in some way.
However, there are also those—and they seem to be increasing—who don’t even pretend to be moral beings. Who exult in their indifference to the pain of others. Who mock those who aren’t as cruel as themselves. Who revel in a new-found freedom to be as vicious as only a withered soul could allow.
They infest the chat rooms and comment sections of the Internet, spitting their venom in ways most of us find revolting. Their notion of what’s funny are things like gun range targets printed with images of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, and photos of drunken teenage girls left lying naked and violated on the floor. They attack victims for their vulnerability, the bereaved for their softness, the weakened because they can.
They don’t care whether or not torture is an effective intelligence gathering tool; it’s enough for them to know that a Muslim is being tortured. They don’t care that a death row inmate might be innocent; it’s enough for them to know a black man is going to die. They don’t care that a coed claims she has been raped; it gives them another reason to hate women.
They have no friends… only sympathizers—other misanthropes who are not as repulsed by rape, by racism, by injustice and torture as most of us are. They have no use for kindness and hold no hopes for a better world; they would welcome the chaos of “everyone for themselves.” They contribute nothing to the human family other than their vileness, their puerility, their deviancy. They are barbarians, their innate incivility set free by an uncivil ideology and the example of that ideology’s most vocal proponents.
You know the one I’m talking about.
They are the least of us, and the loudest of us. If they prevail and do become what America is all about, America won’t be worth saving.
Now, here’s today’s damn Xmas music.