By C. Antonio Romero
SAN FRANCISCO, 15 SEPTEMBER 2008 -
When we live, we dream out loud-in full-color, full-contact,
four-dimensional reality. Which is to say, whatever is in the
unconscious of each of us and all of us leaks out all over,
metaphoric discharge from our psychic lesions. What we picture,
what we present, what we call ourselves, and who we stand with
tell anyone with the sense to pay attention what wounds we
carry, what un-lanced boils of fear and hate and shame and rage
throb feverishly with each of our heartbeats.
And so it comes as little surprise that an event with a name
like the "Values Voter Summit", sponsored by tribes that mark
themselves apart with names like "American Values" and "Focus
on the Family Action," should wind up harboring self-dubbed
satirists and "
well-known Christian writers" who would target their
Adversary Other, Barack Obama, with a barrage of the nastiest
images from the national unconscious, that mostly reveal their
own inner sickness, inflammations of hate complicated by
infections of nostalgia for some white supremacist,
Christian-safe good-old-days-gone-by that has brooded within
the "American" soul at least since slavery took decisive hold
on this continent and demanded that white should loathe black.
See a full-size version of this
And, likewise, it is inevitable, and inadvertently revealing,
that the event organizers should declare their ignorance-that
they were unaware that the boxes had displayed "offensive
material" until, after a couple of days of brisk sales, a
reporter from the AP (tipped off by a
trouble-making atheist) started drawing outsider attention
to the insiders' joke.
Perhaps they were too distracted by the larger-than-life
blowups of the box, or the thronging crowds snapping them up at
$10 a pop, to notice the box itself. Perhaps they were too lost
in a memory of long-ago "
happyfyin' good old-time down South eatin' (just like down on
the plantation!)" to be put off by the Stepin Fetchit
dialect in the Waffle Ring Recipe Rap. Or maybe they
were caught up in the potential of "
energizin'" waffles like the ones Jemima used to make to
address America's urgent fiscal and energy policy problems.
Or perhaps they knew of the product but were genuinely unaware
that it was offensive. Ignorance, when you can get it, is
Barack Obama's campaign will almost certainly remain mostly
silent about the insults and lies slung about in this bit of
innocent fun, at most sending unofficial surrogates at most to
voice any potentially controversial response. And frankly, it
cannot help his campaign to dignify something like this with a
direct reply. Already there have been too many sideshows, such
as the Palin pick, to draw voter and media interest away from
the innumerable real issues at stake in this election. The news
cycle must move on, and quickly.
But that does not mean that this topic is not significant or
newsworthy at some level. And it does not mean that Americans,
whether inside the Obama movement or outside, cannot protest.
Citizens who believe more in ideals of liberty and equality and
opportunity and representative democracy than in some stupid,
sick myth of national tribal identity must come together,
regardless of politics or party or race or creed, and say, with
The fever must break, the abcesses must be drained, and the
deep-down illness must pass. Otherwise, to be sure, the
American body and mind politic will drown in its own bilious
C. Antonio Romero is the Nouveau and Technology editor
of Culturekiosque.com. He last wrote on
Barack Obama: The New Caesar Africanus? Or, What the hell is
Chris Matthews Talking About?
All titles are chosen by the editors as being of interest to
The Race Beat: The Press, the Civil Rights Struggle,
and the Awakening of a Nation
By Gene Roberts and Hank Klibanoff
Hardcover: 528 pages
Knopf (November 2006)
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