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The President and the System
It was distressing to see and hear black congress(wo)men and black TV commentators supporting a strike on Syria by their hero Barack Obama. Loyalty to a symbol is fine as long as it remains a rational support, not one from misplaced identification with a fellow equality challenged individual. Of solidarity with the oppressed elsewhere there was none.
The critique of Obama from the far-right on such as Fox Cable News is and has been disgraceful and indicative of the remaining racial divide in this country. Whatever one may think of president Obama and his actions, the fact is that by condemning him with spurious invective injures the office of the presidency and even the country itself. That is exactly what these commentators pretend not to want to do, but in fact it is having the reverse result in that they are more un-American in their critique than from in their eyes condemnably apostate progressives.
The stupidity of above utterances from commentators on Fox Cable News is matched easily by opposing news networks, where a knee-jerk support for a black president harms him far more than a down-to-earth assessment of his actions. First of all it is a basic error to expect a black president to be a reformer because of his skin color and entirely devoted to elevating the fate of the many people of the same ethnic background. And ethnicity is no indicator of ethics, fully disproving the idiotic notion that oppression breeds nobility like that of the pseudo-scientific nonsensical myth of European superiority which was so extensively promoted during Nazi times.
Obama never in any of his writings ever pretended to be other than what his presidency has proven, namely to be a center right of the road politician. There is and never was any kind of obfuscation. Rather it appears that Obama avoids to be thought of as a weak and easily influenced president, a charge often leveled against black politicians. It is wrongly assumed that they can be threatened and humiliated by being black. And it too adversely affects young black men who think that they should stand their ground in order not to feel lesser than their oppressors.
Assertion of one’s humanity against prejudice is a very tough road to follow as Gandhi has proven and it goes for resistance against the inland colonial treatment of darker skin people as well as of those in the Near East, Africa and the Far East. It is the very essence of the present state of affairs in the world that beyond the confines of empire, people are seen as expendable and the foreign policy decisions of the neo-colonial Western countries fully enforce this, leaving the subjected populations on purpose not a shred of dignity.
Obama conforms to the series of US presidents before him. US hegemony was thought to be established after not one but two nuclear bombs were dropped on Japan. But former victims of colonialism did not want to be incorporated into the empire. Only by economic blackmail, war and support for local elites could the US assure itself of the sardonically named ‘Pax Americana’. The centrifugal forces fleeing from the economic power center are fierce and are difficult to contain. Obama tries as hard as his predecessors to reduce the threat of defection from outlying parts that simply by attrition unravel the interwoven ties to US economic control and his methods in execution fully match those of former presidents
All presidents are pre-selected to be the best representative for the US system and its presumptively exceptional standards. It serves little purpose to excoriate this president for his actions and inactions. Very soon there will be another president cut from the same cloth and thus one has to start again from the beginning. To effect change, the system itself needs to be tackled and forced to humanize itself. That is a far from easy task because corporate interests and the usual inertia of society battle against it. The best catalyst has proven to be the awareness of being lied to and manipulated which ought to trouble the US individualistic mind more than in other countries. Therefore the resistance to believe the tales about Syria and recent revelations of NSA spying and collaboration with foreign regimes may open the reform spout. That can prevent this government and its financial supporters from playing fast and loose with a country they should not own.
Gui Rochat is an art dealer and consultant, specializing in in seventeenth and eighteenth century French paintings and drawings. He lives in New York.