November 4, 2008
The True Name of Barack Obama's Change: IntoleranceBy Jeff Tyler
I have to disagree with those who say that Sen. Obama has not achieved anything significant in his political career. He has some record setting achievements to present to America. He has managed to raise more money for his campaign than any other presidential candidate. $600,000,000 is no small amount, even if some of the money comes from very rich people like George Soros, very rich companies like Goldman Sachs, and a stream of unidentifiable foreign contributors.
Sen. Obama has managed to gather more foreign votes than American ones. As a Kenyan newspaper said recently:
The world has elected Barack Obama president of the United States. It is now waiting to see if the Americans will reject him on November 4.
But Obama's most important achievement to date has not been getting enough press: In less than a year Sen. Obama has managed to divide our country to the degree it has not seen for over a hundred years.
Remember the time when it was okay to disagree with (or even dislike) a presidential candidate? If you're reading this, you're old enough to remember that time -- since it was just a year ago. It's not okay anymore.
Sure, many people, myself included, openly express their negative opinions of Sen. Obama. But what about the level of tolerance his supporters have for these opinions? It's pretty low these days. If, somehow, you have been avoiding any political discussions, you're in for a surprise.
Perhaps even for a shock. These days if you disagree with Sen. Obama you're almost immediately called a racist. These days if you question Sen. Obama, like Joe the Plumber questioned him, you come under the scrutiny of hundreds of professionals in the press and in the government.
These days expressing a concern about Sen. Obama almost guarantees you get a crash course on English obscenities. I know -- I've tried. Within two hours after expressing concerns about Sen. Obama's character on my blog, I was called a racist pig, a right-wing nut, and Hitler. And these were the mildest of labels.
But who am I to complain. The whole country is going crazy. Internet forums are seething with intolerance. I'm not exaggerating -- just visit a forum on Sen. Obama's site. "White people should not be allowed to vote!" says a Philadelphia Inquirer columnist -- and the paper stays in business, although had they suggested taking the voting right away from black Americans, they'd be rightfully facing a nation-wide outcry. An Obama supporter hangs an effigy of a VP candidate by a noose in front of his house -- and gets only smirks from bystanders. This is a Halloween decoration, he says in the interview with the press, standing in front of an effigy of the Republican presidential candidate being burned alive.
Since when did it become okay to hang a figure of a real woman -- a mother of five -- on the streets? Since when did it become okay to parade around with blood-covered guillotine decorated with the head of the President -- a get not a peep from the media?
I can tell you since when. Since Sen. Obama has started deliberately dividing the country. True, a good share of his speeches featured obligatory "united we stand" messages. But many, many other speeches have been sending a very different signal. For months Sen. Obama has been going on stage and drawing lines in every major cultural divide, be it race, income, party or gender, trying to turn Americans against each other. Let's take a look at Sen. Obama's own statements.
When it comes to race, Sen. Obama has played the race card time and again: "They're going to try to make you afraid of me. He's young and inexperienced and he's got a funny name. And did I mention he's black?" he predicted back in June. They will tell you "he doesn't look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills," he prophesied a month later. After each of these divinations an explanation was issued from Sen. Obama's campaign explaining what he really meant.
But to interpret these oracles you need not trust either his handlers in the campaign or his disciples in the media. Go to the scripture. Open Obama's autobiography, Dreams from My Father. It's full of quotes like this: "I found a solace in nursing a pervasive sense of grievance and animosity against my mother's race."
Do you ever remember being called racist for not voting for someone? Last year, four years ago, ever? Now you have all kinds of people doing so, ranging from the media to a Democratic congressman, to your coworker.
Why? Is it because the level of racial intolerance in America was suddenly and inexplicably on the rise last year? Or is it because someone very visible has been hinting over and over again that the main barrier standing between him and the Oval Office is racism?
When it comes to comparing incomes, Sen. Obama has been deliberately promoting class warfare. His endless talk about social justice and government-arranged wealth distribution is nothing but a new incarnation of a two hundred year old theory that has created the worst regimes in history.
Just days ago Sen. Obama labeled Americans who don't support his idea of raising taxes "selfish." Think about his famous ad that focused on Sen. McCain's homes. How many people realized that the ad was simply attacking McCain for being rich? The ad portrayed people who have earned a high level of income as untrustworthy ... even evil. So much for the American dream.
Do you remember seeing rich vs. poor headlines a year ago? Now they adorn the front pages of newspapers every day. Is it because the poverty level has gone up dramatically over the last 12 months? Or is it because the most visible US politician has spared no effort to highlight that some people make more money than others ... and that this is just not fair?
No matter where you look, Sen. Obama shows the same pattern: divide, divide, divide. Why? Because divide and conquer is a proven way to gain power. Month after month Obama paints a shining dream before the eyes of millions of people. He promises them hope. He promises them change. He gets some of them into a nearly ecstatic state where they literally think that they won't have to fill their tank with gas anymore once they elect a President Obama.
And then Obama hints that there are others who want to take that dream away from them. Others who stand against fairness and justice and equality. And he knows precisely what he is creating: his converts start seeing anyone who disagrees with Obama as someone who stands between them and their dream. And then we get chuckling crowds in front of an effigy of Sarah Palin hung by a noose.
People within a group -- large or small -- maintain a certain level of tolerance and respect for others in that group. This level of tolerance and respect can be moved up or down through physical or verbal manipulation or intimidation. Moving the level down is much easier than taking it up. Depending on the topic, you can argue for an hour with someone who has a totally different opinion and still walk away friends. But when, in response to a question, your opponent calls you an idiot, a bigot, and a racist, you're no longer in the mood for a polite discussion. The level of toleration and respect is likely to go downhill from there.
Nations are very large communities and they work in the same way. Once the level of tolerance and respect has gone down, getting it back up is very hard.
Deliberately dividing people to achieve political objectives is a very old trick in the book of power. It has often worked. When it does work, it has always cost the people of the nation who have been blinded by inspiring divisive orators. That cost has usually been dear. That cost has sometimes been freedom.
America is on a dangerous path. It's easy to forget how lucky we are. We're not a perfect community -- there are no perfect communities. We're not one happy family -- we're millions of families, some of them quite unhappy. There are tensions; there are problems; there's some hate to overcome; there are some really ugly things to take care of; and there are thousands of issues to solve.
But if you look around at what's been happening in the America, if you look back at our own -- not so distant -- past, you realize that what we've been having for the last two decades is probably as good as it gets in the real world. As a nation we've been quite all right for a while. It tells you a lot about a person when he steps into the spotlight and time and again tries to pit us all against each other, camouflaging his actions beneath sweet images of hope and change.
Sen. Obama has broken quite a few promises this year. But, you can be sure, he'll be a man of his word when it comes to his fundamental promise ... change. Not only he will bring it -- he has already given us a good preview of it.
It's not in the speeches and rallies. It's in the newspapers and the spiteful remarks on the internet forums, in the rhetoric of politicians and the Halloween decorations on the streets, on the t-shirts shamelessly promoting hate, and in the crowds booing people holding a McCain sign.
It's everywhere. This change has many names but the key one is intolerance. And everyone should think twice before voting for it. There's some deep irony in the fact that the campaign that was supposed to be the last step in helping America to leave a shameful past behind has created a shameful present. It's up to us to ensure that it doesn't turn into an even more shameful future.
Jeff Tyler divides his time between his work in the field of internet communications and writing. His thoughts on American society and politics can be found at his blog Dr. Slogan's Prescriptions.