The Monkees--"Take a Giant Step (Outside Your Mind)" (mp3)
I'm playing the "Race Card."
I'm playing it because right now, it's trumping everything else in the deck.
(Pssstt...anyone ever see Blazing Saddles?------>)
There's no way around it anymore, no matter how much we tiptoe. We are an incredibly, disgustingly racist country. How else can we interpret the following statistic from Maureen Dowd's Sunday column in the New York Times: "only 31 percent of white voters [told] The New York Times in a survey that they had a favorable opinion of Obama, compared with 83 percent of blacks?"
You're telling me that Barack Obama has a lower positive rating among white people than George W. Bush? Let's see somebody go ahead and try to spin that one. The man who started a needless war under false pretenses, leading to over 4,000 American deaths, tens or even hundreds of thousands of Iraqi deaths, who destroyed the goodwill of the entire world, who supported torture and rendition, whose attorney general, personal counsel, and political advisor all resigned in hopes of avoiding scandal, who ignored the recommendations of the 9/11 commission and the Baker commission on Iraq, whose tax cuts and wars have given us the largest deficit in history when his predecessor left a balanced budget, whose economy is in the toilet--most of us whiteys like him better than we like Barack Obama?
Only 31% of white America sees Barack Obama positively?
Oh, my friends, we are staring at ourselves in the freshly-Windexed mirror this time, and the picture is not pretty. Somebody please go ahead and say right now, "Well, the black people are racist, too. Eighty-three per cent of them are only supporting Obama because they're black and he's black." There, that's out of the way. Bullshit, I say.
Our huge, diverse country, our opportunity-laden democratic homeland is no such thing. Instead, it remains a bitterly-stratified land, whose thin veneer of civility may allow us to get in and out of the Wal-Mart safely, when we have to rub elbows with "the others," but that does not allow us to fully embrace all of our fellow citizens equally.
I should have known when the calls started for making immigrants (translation: Mexicans) learn English; the freakin' Amish in Ohio have been speaking old German, and only old German, for well over 100 years. There are towns in Minnesota that fly the Swedish flag. There are Polish bakeries in Chicago where if you order in English, you are the only one doing so.
My dad tells me that they're already talking on TV about how if Obama doesn't win, "the blacks are going to riot in all the major cities." Now, my dad watches some weird stuff and sometimes confuses news and opinion, but I have no doubt he heard that.
Maybe the real America is still closer to the debutante ball I attended last weekend, where all of the attendees were privileged and white, the queen was a beautiful, blond rich girl and the king a wealthy downtown lawyer. On the wall behind their thrones hung a Confederate banner. The waiters at each table were black. The orchestra for the "program" was all white, but when it came time to get down and dirty with some real dancin' and drinkin', they brought out the black band, the black chicks, the Motown sound. I didn't stay to see the clean-up afterward, but I don't even have to guess who did it. But it was for a good cause, it raised a lot of money for an inner-city charity, so we all feel good about it.
I expected Obama's candidacy to shake some things up and to make us look at ourselves in some new ways. I even expected Obama to have to meet higher standards than his opponent; that goes with the territory of being the first minority or woman doing anything. Instead, I fear that instead of seeing ourselves in new ways, we are seeing ourselves for what we always were and that we still have the (invisible) chains in place. Only 31% of white Americans see Obama favorably? My God. I hope against hope.
Colin Meloy, of The Decemberists, released his first solo album in April, and "We Both Go Down Together" comes from that. "Take A Giant Step (Outside Your Mind) is classic Monkees. Both are available at Itunes.