Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Regarding "Obamaphobia"

Grandpa Munster look-alike Ted Cruz has been accused of "Obamaphobia" and we see this condition mentioned elsewhere as well.  I don't know whether this word is relatively new or whether it has been around for some time, but it seems apt in describing reactions to the president, given the definition of "phobia" as being an extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something.

I don't find it easy to take Mr. Cruz, or any other candidate for the presidency of our Great Republic, very seriously.  This may change as this election slouches towards its rude end, but if it does I suspect that I will take them seriously only as threats, more or less significant as the case may be, to our nation.  That said, however, I doubt that even the horrifying prospect of one of them being president will cause me to declaim against them in the hysterical, even demented, manner in which our current president is being castigated and has been castigated by Republicans.

The sickening histrionics of the Republicans in this regard invokes a kind of contempt of them on my part, leading me to sympathize with H.L. Mencken, who wrote: "In this world of sin and sorrow, there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican."

Naturally, the claim of Obamaphobia is not merely denied, but decried by those accused of it and their defenders, sometimes as being a different way of condemning them for racism.  One wonders, sometimes, at the defensiveness of this response.

I think it is futile to deny that criticism of this president has been extraordinary, not necessarily in its quantity but in its quality.  Even normally sensible people I know become frenzied at his mention.  I can't remember how many times I've heard or read the word "tyranny" used in reference to him--by people who have never experienced tyranny of the kind one finds in history and in other nations.  He's routinely criticized as being godless, or at least described as not-a-Christian (which may amount to the same thing for some).  He is of course called a socialist; this is a milder criticism, however, than others.  Those like Giuliani claim he doesn't "love America."  His efforts to provide a "universal" health care system are considered positively demonic by his opponents. 

How explain such conduct?  It's true that our nation's political history is full of examples of lurid accusations against politicians involving their character (especially by proponents and opponents of our earliest politicians; our Founding Fathers were routinely accused of crimes and moral lapses).  But I can't recall this kind of vituperation directed at recent presidents; not even the much reviled Nixon.

It may be that we simply hear and read more in the way of denunciations because technology now allows everyone to express outrage and to be heard and read, more than ever has been the case.  Anyone can, and will, let all the rest of us know what they think, unsolicited.  It doesn't matter what their qualifications, knowledge or intelligence may be, in general or in particular.  Tell us they will, and the tendency is to tell us in as excited a manner as possible.

It may be that our politics is becoming increasingly contentious.  Some of us may feel that our world is changing, and for the worse, and are rendered furious by the fact that it is doing so.  Obama would be considered a symbol of that change.  That change would seem to be that people who do not conform to what some of us feel is normal and appropriate are obtaining power and becoming prominent in America.  I think this is the case, and is at least in part a cause of Obamaphobia.  He is associated with forces that are anti-Church, anti-traditional America and, I think it must be said, non-white if not anti-white--"white" society and culture being the traditional American society and culture.

Historically, white Protestants have dominated in America.  That began to change as early as the first half of the 19th century when the Irish began arriving.  In the second half of the 19th century and the early 20th century people even "stranger" began to arrive, from southern and eastern Europe.

Gradually, these immigrants began to be tolerated and even took positions of power in America.  The change was in some respects grudging.  But there are places where even they are relatively few, in the South and the West, and it is in those places where it seems most Obamaphobes reside.

President Obama is a strange president, to many.  He doesn't act and doesn't speak as presidents have in living memory.  I personally feel that he has in many ways been ineffective, but his "strangeness" has for me no discernible influence or impact.  I think it has effected others, though, to a very significant extent.

I think we see here and in other things a profound change in what many are used to, and that this change is greatly resented.  Especially when we are relatively comfortable and not distracted by the need to see to our immediate survival, our greatest concern is that there be no change.  The old metal band The Dead Kennedys made an album called Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death.  It mocked us for our love of comfortMany of us are being inconvencied by the "new America" and find this intolerable.

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