The pedantry of our society and media is astounding. Our president was criticized for not making a public statement concerning Easter, while having done so for Jewish and Muslim holidays. First off, he’s our Commander-in-Chief, not our pastor. Secondly, Bush didn’t do it *once* during his entire 8 years as President, nor did many of those before him, such as Regan and Bush Senior. None of them had their loyalties to this country or their integrities challenged about it. Why would it matter?
In any case, Obama did in fact have a major Easter event, complete with a speech about Christ and his resurrection. But who cares? With everything going on in our country and the world as a whole, people are putting their energy ranting about such trivial things?
And who can forget this obsession with his citizenship. He’s been president for this long and people are still raising it. It’s an embarrassment to the collective intelligence of this country that he had to actually request his long form and release it – again, as he did just a few days ago.
Not that it matters, since it’s not a birth certificate these folks are looking for, but the insistence that the man they didn’t want to win must’ve done something bad to get there. They can’t accept an opponent being preisdent, even after all these years, and they probably never will. These are the same kind of Americans that are so rife with paranoia and distrust that they truly believe the federal government – along with our intelligence agencies and courts – would somehow either overlook his lack of citizenship, or nefariously let it slide. Apparently, local and state governments were in on it too, since Obama has served in office on both levels prior to being president.
The fact is, Obama is our most “foreign” president, in the eyes of many Americans.
His father was non-American and non-Christian, as was the step-father that followed. He was raised for several years in another (non-Christian) country, Indonesia. And he was born in a state that is peripheral in terms of it’s “American-ness” – i.e. not the mainline, quintessentially American states from which nearly all our Presidents were born and lived.
Taken together, it is no wonder a significant number of Americans, prone to xenophobia and distrust as they are, don’t feel any sort of empathy with him (to say the least). Heck, his citizenship was questioned – and the comparison to no less than 5 dictators, made – before he even became president.
Obviously, not all those who oppose Obama are bigoted. But the ones who are this visceral and paranoid about it – such as these birthers – are clearly being influenced by the primal tendency of humans to feel intrinsic uneasiness about those who are different in so many ways, especially if they also come from a different political and partisan position. But what infuriates me the most about all of this is the sheer silliness of it all – it’d normally be difficult to take it so seriously were it not potentially problematic to our ability to get things done in this country.
First, with everything going on in this country, we’re fussing about whether our President, with all that he has to do, should’ve wished us all a collective Happy Easter? We’re nit-picking about whether he wears a lapel pin of the American flag, whether he’s truly a devout Christian (if even Christian at all), and even if he’s some sort of closet Marxist-Islamist (as if that were to make any probably sense)? I have no qualms with people disliking Obama – I’m rather critical of him myself. But if you’re going to judge a president, his administration, and his character, do so based on more profound and ultimately more important things: his actions, politics, and ideology.
Secondly, with all the problems and issues that are befalling us – education, the debt and deficit, the wars in the Mideast, infrastructure, the future of this country (and those are just the domestic ones) – we’re putting all this time and energy spent on trivialities and conspiracy theories? Granted, I know it’s far from all Americans, but it is still a significant number: anywhere from a quarter to even a third, depending on the source and whether you count those who “sympathize” with such views.
It seems as if we’ve entered this era of pedantry, in which we’re focused more on sound bites and shallow qualities and less on what is substantive and practical. With the advent of mass-media comes the proliferation of absurd views and opinions that suddenly become elevated into the mainstream public consciousness. I sincerely worry about the effect that such a culture of triviality will have on the political and public discourse of society, especially as the younger generation – already so prone to cynicism and apathy – comes of age.
I know I’m probably exaggerating the extent to which this sort of nonsense will affect our society. But it’s an idea I can’t help but entertain more and more, as time goes by and issue go unresolved, all while we fret about conspiracy theories and whether our nation’s leader is an anti-Christ.