Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Afterbirth

Recently I posted on my Facebook page about the disappointment and disgust I felt when I had to watch President Obama produce his birth certificate, and, what was even worse, watch the unspeakably vile Donald Trump crow (yes, that word was deliberately chosen) about it, believing that he alone had the power to lift his leg on the President of the United States.

My heart broke for my black brothers and sisters, who are affected by this foulness in a way that the rest of America is not.

Let's call a spade a spade.

This 'Birther' crap is racism, pure and simple, and Donald Trump's actions were racist. I don't care what you say, you racist motherfucker. Actions speak louder than words.

The most powerful and influential black man in history was made to 'show his papers'.

This is not what it appears on the surface - not a legitimate concern about the eligibility of a politician - say, one who was born in Panama...

This is a 'dog whistle' to question the legitimacy of this President to hold his office due to his birth. Black people have been denied their human rights - the rights that the rest of native-born or even non-native-born Americans have been granted as a matter or course - due to their birth: the fact that they were born with black skin.

It was more than a slap in the face of President Obama - it was a slap in the face of every black person in America.

There are many, many people still around who have experienced racism that was written into law - 'separate but equal'. A lot of people like to pretend that we are no longer a 'racist' society, but Plessy v. Ferguson was still in force in my lifetime, and although discrimination is no longer legal it is still very much entrenched in our society.

The election of America's first black President has brought the maggots of racism crawling out of the woodwork and into the open. Yes, in past years it had become unacceptable in polite society to blatantly display racist views, but that did not mean that it was gone. It just looked bad to be too open about it. Since President Obama's election, however, we have seen more overt and open racism than we have in several generations.

And, as it always is, it is fear-based.

Many different kinds of psychological studies show that one of the signal differences between liberal and conservative personalities is that conservatives are more strongly affected and motivated by fear.  A new study by the University College London Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience shows a biological correlation as well.

An article in the London Telegraph explains that self-described conservatives
"have brains with larger amygdalas, almond shaped areas in the centre of the brain often associated with anxiety and emotions. On the other hand, they have a smaller anterior cingulate, an area at the front of the brain associated with courage and looking on the bright side of life."

When you are afraid, the most important thing becomes relieving that fear - and rationality has nothing to do with it. One of the results of a fear-driven personality is acceptance of inequality. When your worldview is laid out in a vertical, hierarchical way, inequality is built into it.

This particular subset of nutballs - birthers and Tea Partyers - are people whose fears are assuaged by belonging to these groups, and who equate safety and comfort with sameness and obedience. They offer both a set of simple, unambiguous beliefs, and an enemy to unite against. President Obama is the ultimate embodiment of the "Other"; someone 'not like us', therefore Un-American. Once that decision has been made - that Obama is 'the other' and therefore unworthy of respect or obedience, there is no fact that will dislodge it. In fact, a person with this type of personality derives more safety and comfort the more ridiculous and illogical the premise that they are asked to accept - it means they are more obedient, and therefore safer.


Racism is and always has been the result of fear, and has always been used by those with money and power to control and manipulate people who are easy targets because of their discomfort with ambiguity and strong need for certainty, which make them prone to seek out someone or something 'above' them who will give them that certainty and assuage their fear. Once they accept an authority or ideology, they are both obedient to that authority and hostile and aggressive towards anyone who is opposed by the authority.

A poll taken after the release of Barack Obama's 'long-form' birth certificate indicates that 16% of all voters and 30% of Republicans do not believe President Barack Obama has proven he was born in the U.S., even after release of his long-form birth certificate.

But the fact that he was pressured into having to release it at all is what is the most revolting - that and the fact that the Republicans have no shame about going to the lowest place that humans can go in order to out-crazy each other in the race for the 2012 nomination and tapping into the basest of emotions in order to advance themselves politically.

Racism? It's the new black!