Saturday, November 01, 2008

The Content of His Character

Note: This post was prompted by an email forward from a guy I knew years ago who has just discovered the Internet and now blasts "hilarious" emails to everyone. It was another in a long series of emails that basically feature Obama as the fried chicken watermelon guy who's gonna rape your white women.

Happy Birthday to my Dad, pictured here in Vietnam in his way-too-cool shades, rifle across his lap and out the window of a Huey helicopter, as a brother fuels the chopper up. The two guys in that photo above are Americans.

I was raised on military installations, where your neighbors are whomever the government randomly decides, and your schoolmates are of every nationality this country has ever welcomed to its shores. The US military is a microcosm of that "great society" we strive to be, and my Dad taught me early that a man's worth is measured by the honor he brings to his job or how he acts when no one is watching, and little else. If a white, black, red, brown or yellow man can have a good attitude while shoveling shit, (or fueling a helicopter) then he's a guy worth knowing.

There's been a bunch of talk this election season about race, and I think a lot of it comes from people who've never lived among other races. You've got your white liberals from predominantly white areas who want to vote for Obama. But whites who live in mixed-race areas have countered, "That's because you don't know what it's like to live among blacks!" And there are the whites and blacks who will vote for Obama BECAUSE he's black.

For many blacks, voting for Obama is a matter of identity and pride. I understand that. Who wouldn't be proud of Obama's candidacy, given our history? But for many whites, voting for Obama becomes a matter of proving to themselves and their friends that they are open-minded and free-thinking. That's wrongheaded and ignorant. Your anti-racism actually becomes racism in a roundabout way. And among the white talking-head class, you may have noticed that blacks don't get credit for weighing the character of the candidates. It is assumed that they'd vote for Obama just as soon as they'd vote for Flavor Flav. It's assumed that blacks vote en masse, no matter what. (And we haven't even touched the Black-Brown or Yellow-Black animosities and voting patterns of America.)

I go back to what my Dad taught me. We should measure a man on how he approaches his shitty job. Does he have a good attitude while doing the lowliest of low-paying jobs, like community organizing? Or does he expect favor and special treatment because of who he is and where he comes from, like maybe the privileged son of an admiral who crashes planes on a regular basis?

I was one of a few whites who attended a mostly black church in the Midwest for about a year. I went to the pastor's house for Christmas dinner. From the pulpit the pastor invited all who didn't have a place to enjoy Christmas dinner to come to his house. As the only white guy at the pastor's family dinner, I was out of place. I was interrupting. Everyone accepted me and everyone was nice, but I was the sore thumb sticking out. I had forced myself into a situation that would've been much more comfortable without me there. My point is that we are naturally more comfortable among people who are like us, which is why we've had racial tension since the beginning of time. It's the way we're wired. It's natural. We gravitate toward people who look like us. It's nothing to be ashamed of.

But America is different. When they wrote, "All men are created equal," they pried open a giant can of worms we are still unprepared to deal with. We're getting better, but we still have our neighborhoods where it is better for us if we look like most of the people who live there. It will likely always be that way, but Americans are free to mingle, free to get to know each other, free to find out that what exists under the skin is the same in all peoples. We should take ourselves outside of our comfort zones as often as possible. We may retreat to our comfortable areas at day's end after working eight hours with people of all colors, but we are better people for those eight hours.

Until we force Americans of different races to live together, as the US military does, we must learn to understand each other while recognizing and celebrating our differences. You don't need to move to a white neighborhood in order to "understand" white people, but when you approach that white person at work as a person and not a white person, you're on your way. Measure him by how he approaches the shittiest of jobs. What's his character? What's his attitude? Can you see him as your friend? Can you see him not as white or black, but rather as dishonorable or honorable?

This election has been eye-opening in the way it has polarized America, and while I respect and encourage a healthy debate on the issues, I'm quite done with the dishonorable, racist bastards of my country who will veil their arguments against Obama in terms of communism, socialism and terrorism, (I'm talking to you, Irish, racist, dishonorable jackass Sean Hannity) but whose real and fundamental discomfort with the man is his color. You can disagree with his policies, you can disagree with his approach to governing, you can disagree with the people he has brushed shoulders with in the past, but as long as you forward emails that suggest Obama is some Watermelon-Eating, Tap-Dancing, Shoe-Shining Nigger Antichrist, well, it shows me you don't really understand America at all.

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  • A really sharp guy in FL taught me a thing or two about forwarding emails, so I've cut back. I still vote pro-life, and have rescinded my stance on the death penalty, a 'money-where-your-mouth-is' kind of approach. People that vote over taxes are selfish, and people that vote over healthcare are selfish, and voting based on the war is irrevelant unless you're a soldier and your opinion is based on experience as far as I'm concerned. Voting for choice is selfish, but the selfish choice is Murder.

    Great post Mr Jetpacks

    Mo Dude

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at November 1, 2008 at 12:59 AM  

  • All the stats I see show that Blacks will vote en masse for Obama. Only they can tell us whether that's because they've measured the content of Obama's character, though that Stern bit is sure anecdotal evidence against that possibility.

    Bright guy, your Dad. There really is nothing but character against which to fairly measure someone. I disagree with you pulling the race card at the end of this one though. I'm not going to defend Hannity, but I see no "veiling." I doubt he's capable of veiling. If we examine the words of Wright (The gov gave Blacks AIDS on purpose?) and Ayers ("I'm torn between being a socialist and an anarchist" and "education is the motor-force of revolution") you would be blind not to see, what shall we call it -- radical influences?

    As for taxes, I'm theoretically Obama's base (especially now) but when you look at the percentages of who's contributing to tax revenues and who isn't, Obama crosses the line of what I can consider fair, not to mention economically promising for the country.

    Now corruption in DC and on Wall St. also have no connection with fairness, and I'd be inclined to support a candidate who claimed believably they could clean it up.

    One doesn't have to be a racist in order to have a problem with voting for Obama. It's entirely legitimate to doubt who he "brushed shoulders" with (and I don't consider spending $50 million of Ayers's grant money in a failed school reform effort mere shoulder-brushing.) All we can do is look at what record he has, his associations and how he denied or embraced them, or we can succumb to his oratorical skills.

    But attributing racist motivations to those who may not support Obama is, uh, not cool.

    By Anonymous Sir Girdy, at November 1, 2008 at 10:33 AM  

  • Girdy:

    I don't see where I "pulled the race card" at the end of this, nor do I see that I said disagreeing with Obama is racist. There are many who do however, hide their racism in clever ways. I think Hannity is one of those. And I am the one who said it is perfectly OK to disagree with who Obama brushed shoulders with.

    The post was prompted by an email forward from a guy I knew years ago who has just discovered the Internet and now blasts "hilarious" emails to everyone. It was another in a long series that basically features Obama as the fried chicken watermelon guy who's gonna rape your white women.

    And your fake name here is easily uncovered by a recent post on your blog, so...we know where you live and we'll be coming for you in an unmarked white van after the inauguration of The Rhetoric. Your time in the Re-education Camp will be based on your ability to cooperate. So, Gird Your Loins!

    By Blogger Jetpacks, at November 1, 2008 at 10:58 AM  

  • Oh, crap. I'd better break out the backup girding system and double up. The part I take issue with is this: "I'm quite done with the dishonorable, racist bastards of my country who will veil their arguments against Obama in terms of communism, socialism and terrorism." It seemed to try to extend race into discussions of a candidate's perceived preferences in political theory and economic systems. And if that happens, well, heck, there's not much left to talk about, not that this is a bad thing on a big college football day with ribs in the smoker. But I know what you mean about certain scummy, racist far right emails. I've seen some, but I don't get many far-left crazy emails. I have to go to Daily Kos for my left crazy.

    By Anonymous Sir Double-Girded, at November 1, 2008 at 1:33 PM  

  • Oh hell. Now we have ANOTHER thing to disagree on. Go Gators!

    By Blogger Jetpacks, at November 1, 2008 at 1:42 PM  

  • Great post. That pic is the definition of riding shotgun.

    Girdy, Hannity may not be racist, but every chance he gets, he paints Obama with the ‘ism’ brush. Why, he practices socialism, Marxism and I heard he even drove by a library once where they have, wait for it, books on communism.

    Hannity doesn’t have to do too much either to tap into the fear behind the 20% of Texans who STILL believe Obama’s a Muslim. Just throw out a Rev. Wright mention, flash a clip of him ranting at the mic waving his hands wildy, and WASPs everywhere go “See, we told you—terrorist.”

    By Blogger Make the logo bigger, at November 2, 2008 at 3:58 PM  

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