"Appeasement is like feeding the crocodile, hoping that it will eat you last.” -Winston Churchill
As Hitler’s Third Reich expanded across Europe, and leader after leader sought to placate and temper his appetite for war by surrendering territory in the hope for peace, Winston Churchill took a stand, and stated: "Appeasement is like feeding the crocodile, hoping that it will eat you last.”You see, Churchill understood a basic truth that has been around since the beginning of time: A bully will continue to be a bully, until you take a stand and fight. Hitler’s aggression was built on a platform of racial superiority, of dividing the world into “in-groups” and “out-groups”, the chosen and “the others”, slaves and slave masters. He may have succeeded in his quest for world domination, and global ethnic cleansing had it not been for one courageous leader who said, ENOUGH!
History doesn’t necessarily repeat itself, but it definitely rhymes.
Now, by no means am I equating the Birther movement to the genocide of 6 million Jews, but I am saying that the same spirit behind the racial superiority mindset of the Nazi regime is alive and well, embodied by those that question the legitimacy of Barack Obama, the sitting President of the United States. For those that may think this conclusion is a little far fetched, let me remind you that the Jewish genocide is one of the largest ever RECORDED, but the holocaust of Africans during the slave trade period has an estimated range of between 22 million and 55 million. The same spirit of subjugating and eliminating those who may not look or talk according to accepted scripts of “normal”, is woven into the American fabric, and is the original sin that has been passed down from generation to generation. Yes, it may wear different masks, and parasitically use the prevailing issues of the day to justify its existence or “concerns”, but time reveals all things, and time inevitably rips away the mask, revealing the same grotesque face that has plagued the world from the beginning.
It is this same spirit, rooted in American history, that treated African slaves as chattel, that gave rise to the Ku Klux Klan, that systematically eliminated the Native American population, that caused Blacks to be snatched up on the street and beaten for not having their “papers”, that led to widespread lynchings of Blacks in the South, that led to “White Flight” and other housing discrimination, and now, it has slithered its way into the most exclusive American neighborhood and domicile there is, namely 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Make no mistake about it, the Birther movement is an extension of socio-cultural superiority politics that have been with the Republic from its founding. Never before has a sitting president been asked to prove that he is a citizen of this country, despite the preponderance of evidence attesting that he is. Never before has a president been asked to provide transcripts to prove that he was qualified to attend the nation’s best schools, despite graduating Magna Cum Laude and being President of the Harvard Law Review (the most prestigious student honor, at the most prestigious University in the country). Never before has a president been accused of reeducating children (via volunteerism) into blind worship of him and his political philosophies, in the vein of North Korea’s Kim Jong Il. Never before has a president been accused of not loving his country, and believing it to be an evil institution needing to be destroyed. Never before has a president been persistently accused of not being able to write his own literary material, a la the claim that Bill Ayers helped the president write “Dreams from My Father”. Never before has a president's faith been as castigated, and vilified in coded and hushed tones as being a "Muslim”.
Need I continued? Perhaps all of the above are just part of a series of unlikely coincidences, or it could be that African Americans are simply too sensitive. On the other hand, it could be that racism and prejudice are still alive and well in this country.
And this is where the story turns, because now I hold President Obama to account, and charge him to not let this teachable moment slip by. The Birthers are not going away quietly, and already we are seeing them launch new conspiracy theories to replace the theories that have been debunked.Much like any other common bully, you have to take a stand and engage them head on. I spoke earlier of Winston Churchill, and was very cognizant to use the term “courageous” to describe his stand against Hitler. The use of “courageous” is pivotal, because “courage” has been described as “not the absence of fear, but the strength to do what is right in the face of this fear”. I understand that President Obama is preparing to make his reelection run, and I understand that he may be wary and fearful of the reaction some voters may have when confronted with the ugliness of racism, but I want him to muster the “strength to do what is right in the face of this fear”. Such blatant disrespect of him, the Office of the President, and the Black community, both here in America and ABROAD, mandate that he properly address this Birther nonsense by its rightful name…racist bigotry.
I don’t want him to tap dance around the issue, and I don’t want him to let the racists Birthers off the hook as easily as he presently seems content to do. He owes it to every Black person that has suffered from the indignity of prejudice to use the bully pulpit of the presidency to highlight and condemn racism in all its forms. Henceforth, when asked about the Birther movement, I want him to brutally and openly acknowledge its racist elements, in all its foul glory. He has a moral obligation to do so, because there are some people out there who do not realize that what the President went through over the past few years, is what countless numbers of Blacks go through in some form or fashion every day in this country.
I want the President to be as courageous as those who gave up their lives and livelihoods during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s. I want him to be as courageous as those White Southern politicians who cast their votes for African American Civil Rights, knowing that they would never be reelected to office as a result of that vote. In short, in this instance, I want President Obama to be a statesman rather than a politician, and shine a light on the festering wound of racism in this country.
He owes us all that.