You may recall the fairy tale of Little Red Riding Hood who set out to visit her grandmother, but instead of her grandmother she ran into a wolf disguised as her grandmother. He acted, spoke and even resembled her grandmother but really he was a wolf inside and out. He was prepared to eat Little Red Riding Hood and to fill himself up at her demise. Today we find many who are prepared to serve up our president from a table set to resemble disrespect. Yet, when you pull off the tops to the pots it is really nothing but racism prepared to fill you up with his political demise.
I was a student during the Kennedy and Johnson presidencies. Never did you hear anyone call Kennedy a liar from the floor of the Congress during the Bay of Pigs incident or the Cuban Missile crisis. I never heard anyone call Lyndon Johnson a liar from the floor during the Vietnam War. Even Richard Nixon was not called a liar from the floor during the infamous Watergate hearings. George Bush was not called a liar from the floor when he said, “Read my lips, no new taxes” and then went on to raise them. George Bush II and Dick Cheney were not called liars from the floor when they said weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq to justify the war. They were not called liars when they pushed the Patriot Act through Congress which took away several of the basic rights of Americans to civil liberties. They were not called liars when they said they were not spying on Americans domestically. Yet we found out they were working with phone companies to tap into your personal conversations.
When Joe Wilson, Republican representative from South Carolina, called the president a liar it was more than disrespectful. It was an affront to the institution represented now by this African-American leader who is the president of all the people. The remarks from the floor represent a vitriolic unchecked pot of racism. This pot has been stewing in America since the election of Barack Obama. We must uncover it before it boils over and scalds us as a nation. It cannot be hidden under the cover of simple disrespect, which enables one to say I forgot myself and I simply got caught up in the moment. Apology is accepted; but yet you keep on doing the same thing.
Ladies and gentlemen, let’s get real! There is a wolf in the house running around in the disguise of disrespect. The old Dixiecrats didn’t call the president a liar from the floor of Congress. We all knew they had a serious problem with civil rights. That is why they became Dixiecrats. Many don’t even know or remember their history. Displaying signs of the president calling his proposed national health care program a Nazi health care program is historically inaccurate. To portray President Obama to the likes of an Adolf Hitler, mustache added, is also historically inaccurate. Hitler hated Jews and Black folks. He would not be supporting what Obama is trying to implement for the nation. Using terms like socialism, communism and fascism to describe this president, again is historically inaccurate. Germany, Italy and Japan were members of the Axis powers. They fought against the U.S., Britain, France and Russia. They were all members of the Allied forces. These terms represent the periods of history in which we fought to stop some of our greatest human tragedies. Shame on those who would make this unfair and inaccurate comparison. Let me be very clear, every White person that criticizes Barack Obama is not a racist. Every Black person that criticizes him is not a sellout or anti-Black. Every president has been criticized for something. So let’s not go there. It is the personal vehemence and vitriolic nature of these attacks that allows guns and hate to show up in public places that should concern us all.
The Secret Service has even indicated that threats against this president are four times greater than those against George Bush. This atmosphere of the “wolf” must be uncovered and called out. If we do nothing then it will allow the wolf to believe that he has permission to continue to bite and to attack unchecked and unchallenged. This can lead to personal destruction and even more racial division.
Since when have presidents not been allowed or even condemned for speaking to school children to motivate then to study and to stay in school? Both president Bushes did it! Ronald Reagan did it! All with no mass calling the president a propaganda artist or brainwasher of children. Former President Jimmy Carter is to be commended for being bold enough to pull the disguise off the wolf. The wolf is trying to run, but thanks to some he cannot hide. This is not a fairy tale. This is real life. Red Riding Hood is a fable, but racism is real. Let’s stop the pretending. The future of our nation is still depending on those who know better to do better.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “We must be so God motivated that we are never astronomically intimidated.” We must not allow the wolf to intimidate us. We need the good people to stand up and motivate us. We’ve come too far to turn back now!
(Reverend Dr. Wendell Anthony is president, Detroit Branch NAACP (the Nation’s largest branch) and a member of NAACP National board of directors.)