Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Cutting Obama's mustard

People, please.

I've been living on this planet for nearly 38 years now, and I dare say I've never seen anything like this.

It starts like a bad joke between friends in the pub: U.S. President Barack Obama walks into a burger joint in Virginia and orders a cheeseburger with - horrors of horrors - Dijon mustard instead of the standard French (sorry, I mean, Freedom) yellow mustard. He was crucified for being snobby, upper-class, whatever.
Is this a big deal? Not to many of us. Personally, I don't give a fuck what condiments the president likes in his cheeseburgers.

But it's a big deal to the boys at Fox News. Last week, the conservative "news" channel took this as their latest initiative in pilloring the president. This after knocking the president for his now notorious "fist-bump" with his wife Michelle during the presidential campaign - "a terrorist fist jab", says E.D. Hill of Fox News' America's Pulse.

And this, after conservative folks jumped all over Obama for wearing so-called "terrorist" garb when visiting his father country of Kenya in August 2006. He was in fact dressed as a Somali elder by a local sheikh, likely to show some support for the trials and tribulations of the downtrodden in both Kenya and Somalia.

I'd go on but I only have so much space. Let's go back to the mustard choice. I, personally, prefer Dijon mustard in my sandwiches, far more than I do the traditional French's mustard brand. It just tastes better. If it marks me as an anti-middle-class, elitist snob, fine. I sometimes enjoy WWE wrestling and have a passing interest in celebrity gossip - does that mark me as a white-trash trailer-park rat? Perhaps. All I know is I have my own choices and I'm absolutely at peace with them no matter what others think.

Now, on to something a little bit more disturbing. I'm noticing a tendency from the conservative side to line Obama up alongside the likes of Hitler and note the uncanny resemblances in their behaviours and their ability to rouse a crowd with their colourful rabble. I recently was the recipient of an article by Pam Geller, and this article, amongst other things, notes the similarities between Germany in the 1930s and the United States today. It notes that in Germany, thanks to great oratory, promises, a compliant media, promises of change, blah blah blah, suddenly a country descended into rounding up its own citizens, killing others, turning children against parents, neighbours against neighbours (all this is a direct quote - you can read it here). Next thing you know, a terrible war happened, and millions of people were turned into unrecognizeable solids, liquids and, yes, gas.

Our Ms. Geller then goes on to say that she hopes she is wrong, but she is able to look at history with the grace of seven decades worth of hindsight, and thinks she is NOT wrong when she says that the United States are at a similar crossroads.

Need I spell it out? She's trying to use Nazi Germany, the Holocaust, the monster Hitler and all of that stuff as a way to turn people against Obama.

That's a little scarier than mustard on your cheeseburger, I think. Surely, the traditional Reagan and Bush loving conservatives can do a better job than this. If they're really bent on taking down Obama, then at least take him down with credible arguments. For one, go after him for his choices of leaving Iraq and depositing more military into Afghanistan - something I've read could very well end up being Obama's Vietnam if he's not careful. Go after him for his new tax plans, go after him for his lack of experience as commander-in-chief. Go after him for his stance on abortion (quick glance at Google turns this up).

What's that? Abortion? Aha. Let's go to my main point. Mr. Obama plowed head-first into the abortion debate when delivering a speech over the weekend at Notre Dame, the U.S.'s leading Roman Catholic university. When delivering his commencement address to 12,000 people, there was, of course, a few noisy folks in the audience outright bent on taking Obama down for his views and decisions on abortion. One screamed out; "Stop killing our children!"

Obama didn't choose to ignore this noise. He didn't choose to argue right back. Instead, he said this as part of his speech, fully acknowledging the stormy waters of the abortion debate:

"No matter how much we may want to fudge it - indeed, while we know that the views of most Americans on the subject are complex and even contradictory - the fact is that at some level, the views of the two camps are irreconcilable. Each side will continue to make its case to the public with passion and conviction. But surely we can do so without reducing those with differing views to caricature." (read the whole speech here)

He said a lot of other things about working together as people, smoothing over differences, loving each other, improving communities and being part of your community. All that stuff that is borne of simple, good values. Go make a coffee, sit down and read the speech. Forget his eloquence, his call for change and all that stuff. He really is a well-spoken man whose words, deep down, have a real call for betterment in this world.

I know Obamamania spiked back in November when he was elected, so it's a bit late for me to spill all my verbiage about this man. But what I do know is, regardless of what kind of mustard we like, what we like to wear to traditional Kenyan ceremonies, whether we want things to change or stay the same, I know that I'm often surprised and impressed with some of the things he has to say. Instead of uniting us against a common enemy or saying we are all Americans and ought to work together and love America because "they hate us because we love freedom" (Bush, anyone?), Obama simply calls for a better world. One of my favourite quotes from this guy is this one from 'A More Perfect Union': "This union may never be perfect, but generation after generation has shown that it can always be perfected."

I like that idea. We'll never be perfect but we can always be better as people, Americans or not. Obama is not a perfect president, regardless of his mustard choice and his fist-bumps. But he's indeed an inspiration. Conservatives such as Gellar, Hill and Sean Hannity may not know how lucky they are sometimes. Middle-class America really needed a leader, and now they have one.


Anonymous said...

Good post again Keith. Man, those guys at Fox never cease to amazing me with their absolute lack of intelligence and respect. Give the man a break for preferring the f*ing 'healthy' mustard over the cheap processed stuff! As for the speech on abortion, it is about time someone stood up and said like he did, that the issue will never be resolved because it deals with areas of moral philosophy and biology that we don't understand enough about yet, but at least let's have some grace when debating the issue.
Meanwhile, the wide-eyed attention-lovers screaming 'stop killing our children' drool as they bite on another piece of slaughtered semi-intelligent bovine flesh with their processed, chemical-ridden, non-nutritional yellow mustard....symbol of their America.


Anonymous said...

Devon here:

My god what would they say about me man... Chorizo, lavender mustard from Provence, toasted St.Galler Weissbrot, Pata Negra ham and Italian San Marzano tomatos make up my best sandwich... I wish I could just get some of that Yellow stuff over here so I can look like a real down home patriot.