Obama: The Trans-Atlantic Ghost Buster
9 Sep 2009
The Brits are incapable of moderation when it comes to America. Normally the British enjoy a scathing, self righteous superiority, happily recycling the most embarrassing verbal blunders of Palin, Bush, Quayle and Ragan. Either that or they are pathetically submissive to the overwhelming grandeur, drama and big screen spectacle of American myth. Obviously we are currently amerced in the latter. The magnificence of the Chicago park footage from last Tuesday is not possible outside the United States and we know it. It makes Blair’s 1997 victory look like the opening ceremony of a new branch of Tesco’s. The Brits, who pride themselves on their stiff upper lip, have allowed their jaws to drop.
Yet, the deification of Barak Obama reveals a schizophrenic desire to heal our own self-inflicted disease. If we believe that Obama’s triumph is the product of a collective redemption, a universal moral shift, then by implication, all that proceeded last Tuesday is the product of collective apathy, racism, greed and barbarism; traits that are far from being the property of US citizens.
As we gloat over the corpse of the Bush administration in the same mode of smug satisfaction with which we clinked our glasses to the departure of Blair, we ignore the fact that is ‘we the people’ that voted these men in. Twice! We, the citizens of democratic nation states, voted in men who in the last few years murdered thousands of innocent Muslims and allowed Israel to slaughter their neighbors without so much as a slapped wrist. No wonder we so desperately need of this shot of ethical morphine. No wonder we invest in this messianic figure. Confronted with evidence of the mass horror we permit, we better find a way back to self love. Cue, Barak Obama, our saving grace.
As glorious as it is to see a mixed race man in the Whitehouse, as cathartic as it is to see hot tears fall down the cheeks of Jessie Jackson and cries of euphoria from the descendants of kidnapped slaves, the idea that the ills of America have been cured overnight is a delicious fantasy. We are talking here about a monster economy, built upon the genocide of Indians, the enslavement of Africans, the contemporary abuse of an illegal Hispanic labor force. We are talking about a global hegemony that has prevailed at the expense of the people Palestine, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Iraq and quite possibly next Pakistan and Iran. As wondrous it is to gaze back at the grainy black and white footage of the 1960s race riots and know that this particular evil has reached a dead end, what do we do with the Technicolor footage of crimson blood spilling right now in Muslim lands? How many people realise that last Tues while we cheered, sobbed and partied at Obama’s win, Israel grabbed the opportunity to launch air strikes into Gaza killing seven Palestinians? (Don’t worry too much though, they were only ‘militants’). Sadly, Obama’s decision to make an IDF solder American Chief of Staff signals much more of the same. Rahm Emamuel chose to fight for Israel rather than the US during the first Gulf War. This tells us all we need to know about his Nationalist loyalties.
If Hillary Clinton had won the democratic nomination and the Presidency we would currently be reflecting on the sacrifice of suffragettes like Emily Davison, rather than the bravery of Rosa Parks. As it is, Obama resurrects the ghosts of the two assassinated icons of modern America: Jack Kennedy and Martin Luther King. These mytres of progress have been reborn in the hybrid persona of our next President. If that weren’t enough his name,’Barak Hussein Obama’ echoes his countries two arch enemies: Osama Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein. His name is the sound of understanding. His skin tone is the color of tolerance. The symbolism is practically irresistible. But let us not forget it is just a name and it is just a color and he is just a man. Our rapture must not blind us to another racism, where, to be black may be forgivable, but to believe in Allah, is not.