Where’s the Respect?


By Todd A. Smith

            The date November 4, 2008 will live in the history books forever.  Somewhere in this great nation, a young boy or girl is sitting in a classroom dreaming that they can achieve greatness in their life because of Barack Obama’s presidency and what it represents for our country.

            President Obama’s rise to the highest office in the land is the reason many risk their lives to come to our beloved country.  Obama’s presidency represents that America is a country where all things are possible and all people are truly equal.

            However, as history has shown us, whenever America makes strides towards true equality, it takes several steps backwards because of the backlash that comes from those who feel threatened by progress.

            After the emancipation of Black slaves in 1865, many Blacks made great political strides during the Reconstruction era.  However, as a result of the swift change in race relations, many Southern Whites felt threatened by powerful Black politicians, and their backlash gave birth to hate groups such as the Ku Klux Klan.

            While the backlash for Obama’s presidency has not gotten as severe as it did for the trailblazers of the 1800s, President Obama has not received the same respect that presidential predecessors have received at the same point in their presidency.  Whether it is because of what his policies represent or what Obama’s presidency represents, the criticism seems more personal and more hateful than it has seemed for any presidency in my lifetime.

            At the same point in George W. Bush’s presidency, after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, it seemed as if President Bush could do no wrong.  When those on the left criticized his decision to invade Iraq, even though Saddam Hussein swore he did not have any weapons of mass destruction and inspectors did not have adequate time to search the country, they were labeled unpatriotic.

            Whoopi Goldberg lost lucrative endorsements because of her criticism of the president and country stars The Dixie Chicks lost an exorbitant amount of fans because of their criticism.

            Nevertheless, at the same exact time in their tenure, it has been open season for anyone to belittle Obama’s presidency.  What was intended to be an uplifting speech that would inspire our nation’s children to achieve greatness in academia, turned into a bitter partisan dispute because conservatives falsely believed that he would attempt to brainwash or indoctrinate their impressionable children.  In actuality, if a child is intelligent enough to comprehend presidential policy, then they are intelligent enough to have their own political opinions, independent of their parents’ political views.

            One school district in Arlington, Texas went so far as to ban Obama’ inspirational speech, but had decided to take their students on a field trip to hear George W. Bush speak.  The district has since cancelled the field trip.  Many of these same parents do not have quarrels with their children watching or listening to entertainment with too much sexuality or gratuitous violence, but believe they are too impressionable to hear an uplifting speech from the president on the value of an education.

            The criticism of Obama’s presidency hit another low note when Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina shouted “You lie!” at the president during his address to Congress on health care.  Regardless of how one feels about Obama’s presidency or even his policy, he deserves the same respect as all of his predecessors who have held that office.  Despite what someone may think of his policies and what they represent, Obama’s presidency represents what this country is all about, and it would be a shame to move backwards after we have come so far.


Smith is publisher of Regal Black Men’s Magazine.

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