Barack Obama must be the most disrespected president in American history. First there were the questions about his birth certificate. Birthers, unaware that Hawaii joined the union in 1959, were in the streets asking to see the certificate like a disgruntled man on the Maury Show.
Then, during an address to a joint session of Congress in 2009, Representative Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) shouted ‘You Lie!’ as President Obama tried to explain the details of the Affordable Care Act. Wilson was later unapologetic and used his heckling as an opportunity to raise money for reelection.
When he travelled to Arizona in 2012, Governor Jen Brewer pointed a finger in Obama’s face as soon as he arrived at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport. The only thing she didn’t do was refer to him as ‘boy.’ Gov. Brewer treated Obama like a ni**er without having to say it.
When he visited Oklahoma in 2015, not long after the massacre of 9 black men and women in Mother Emmanuel AME Church by a Confederate Flag waving racist, he was met by a few good ol’ boys waving the Stars and Bars.
But, of course, it was all about states’ rights.
I could go on. There is the heckling by a reporter from the Daily Caller in the Rose Garden. The chair lecture he received at the hands of Bill O’Reilly. The former Mayor of New York City saying of Obama, “I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America…He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country.”
The list is seemingly endless, but as we reach the end of his presidency, Senate Republicans are setting precedent with the level of disrespect they’re directing at President Obama.
Now members of the all Republican Senate Judiciary Committee said they would neither hold confirmation hearings nor vote on the person President Obama nominates to replace Justice Antonin Scalia.
It is a matter of professional courtesy for Senators on the Judiciary Committee to meet with nominees named by the president, but, when asked if he would adhere to that historical precedent, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said he would not. “I don’t know the purpose of such a visit. I would not be inclined to take that myself.” When asked the same, Senator John Cornyn of Texas agreed. “I don’t see the point of going through the motions if we know what the outcome is going to be.”
Many on social media have voiced sadness about the fact that Obama will soon leave the presidency. While I understand the symbolic power of black folks in general, and black kids in particular, seeing a family in the White House that looks like them, I’m ready to see this president’s final year in office come to an end.
When Obama was elected, many thought we were being ushered into a new era—certainly not a post-racial milieu, but, perhaps, a less overt one. The fact that a black man could rise so high was shocking. It made many think that things were getting better. It gave us hope. Now, that hope is gone.
It is clear that no matter how high you rise, no matter what office you hold, no matter how hard you work, if you are black, many will view and treat you like a second-class citizen. No, they won’t use racial epithets. They will not burn a cross in your yard. They may not spit in your face. But the undeniable fact is that white supremacy is here to stay, and no election will cure that ill.
I’m ready for Obama to leave office. I don’t care how many times he says pop-off. I don’t care how often he daps up Kevin Durant. I’m not swayed by the number of black women from the civil rights generation that dance in the White House when they meet him.
I’m tired of seeing President Obama blatantly disrespected, and my soul is weary from having to see him grin and bear it. I’m ready for President Obama to be free from the burden of having to perform for white supremacy—and I’m ready to be free from the burden of having to watch him do it.
Lawrence Ware, counterpunch.org