There are things we believe we are as Americans, and then there are the things that we really are, the things we really do, the things we really believe in that shape our daily lives. Which pretty much brings me to the point of this piece – it is those things we really believe that can allow us to act on our most basic, most primal urges.
I’ve been saying for weeks that we will know Obama is close to winning this election when we can hear the dogs barking and feel the sting of the firehoses.
I had no idea they would be electronic.
The rabid intensity of the peanut gallery that surrounds this year's presidential election has revealed a level of hatred and fear bigger than anything I’ve ever encountered in my whole life. Even on the talk shows, where there is usually an informal pecking order and some sense of decorum displayed by the panelists and guests, over the last week the discourse has gone beyond spirited debate, often becoming a frenzied free-for-all, with people speaking over each other or displaying intense and uncontrollable emotional outbursts.
The things we are stooping to saying to each other are bad enough. The things we are stooping to doing, like hacking into someone’s email account, are even worse.
I’m no fan of Palin. But her being an ex-cracker doesn’t scare me. I’m not going to riot if MCain and Palin win the election. I’m not going to leave the country if McCain wins and dies in office, leaving Palin as our president.
As stupid and as irresponsible as Palin was to conduct confidential business on a personal email account, something that anybody who has ever worked in corporate America knows is a security violation of the highest order, she does not deserve this. And if it turns out that this is really a political maneuver, a strategic tactic meant to confuse and diffuse the underlying issues, we do not deserve this.
Wlliam Golding’s book Lord of the Flies was mesmerizing the first time I read it as a teenager, not for the depictions of unchecked violence that a band of boys stranded on an island perpetrated against each other, but because the author had tapped into the depraved part of my subconscious in a way that made me realize how close to a savage barbarian I could have been if it weren’t for the boundaries of behavior my civilized community rigorously enforced among its members.
Too many of us lately seem to have lost the struggle to remain the ruler of the kingdoms that are our own minds, becoming mere servants instead, servants of those baser desires that lurk in its shadows.
This latent fear of man’s primal urges, if left unchecked, is what is at the bottom of the psyches of the twenty percent of white Americans who claim they are afraid of us because we are black. It isn’t the part of us they know and see everyday that is so scary, but the part they can’t see that they know must be in us, because it is in them, that makes us so frightening.
This feeling I have right now is the same.
It is probably more than merely coincidental that the metaphor of the pig is central to theLord of the Flies narrative, much as it has been central to the nonsensical venom that has been spewed the across the airwaves and on TV for the last week.
Moral suasion was the central tenet of the civil rights movement – the notion that what our forebears were doing had the persuasive authority of righteousness on our side, in spite of the rhetoric to the contrary that typified the movement as a subversive element that needed to be eradicated.
It is the remnants of this same sense of moral rectitude, at least in part, that is the impetus behind a lot of the momentum the Obama campaign has gathered this year. We’ve all heard it, or said it, from those who have exclaimed that they want to be “on the right side of history” to those who have extolled “it’s about time”. I’ve said these things and more myself, and can understand exactly why there is so much positive energy people are bringing to this campaign. In the battle of good versus evil, of might versus right, the choice I’ve made to support Barack Obama not only seems logical, it feels right.
But this feeling I have tonight, the one these anonymous criminals have unearthed, is wrong, not just because its against the law, but because it feels wrong, the kind of wrong that makes my head tingle, that makes my stomach churn.
This thing we are doing is hard, harder than hard. We will have remember, in the heat of the moments to come, to be true to the ideals that got us here.
Because on November 5th, I want to feel more than triumphant. I want to feel right.