Posted by: alliehope | September 21, 2008

Obama, the “Other”, and Me

Fair disclosure: I am an Obama supporter. This entry will come out of that position. However, as a human being, politics aside, I felt the tug to say this.

I happened across a really interesting column during my midnight meanderings online (it’s about quarter to 4 in the morning as I write this) on the push to “otherize” Barack Obama, making him different from everyone else by calling on his religion as a means of discrediting him.

Commencing rant: Let me say straight-out that this is intellectually lazy, illogical, and brings ill-informed biases to the surface. It’s “easier”, isn’t it, to make the person you might not like into an “other” so you don’t have to deal with him or her AS AN INDIVIDUAL, isn’t it? Heavens above, why would you ever want to do that? Isn’t it just more convenient to think of that person as something different than you and hide behind that so you don’t have to deal with whatever issues you might have with that individual? Rant concluded.

Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, let’s deal with some reality here. First, the religion issue, since that’s one of the biggest ways of “otherizing” Obama. Author Jerome Corsi, in his (juvenile gossip, really) book The Obama Nation, spends time dealing with the Islam issue relative to Obama. However, according to an independent source, there is no basis for any of this.

Therefore, smearing Obama as a Muslim (which is despicable), makes it acceptable to hate on him, since hating Muslims is widely considered culturally acceptable. Let me say this loud and clear: that’s bullcrap. (Pardon my language). It is unacceptable to denigrate someone else’s religion, and on its face betrays personal prejudice!

Which brings up something that has been questioned elsewhere: could the religion issue be a cover for the real issue, for some people, that of race? Is religion merely a smoke-screen? For some people, it could be. And to those people I say (not that they’re reading this anyway), get real. Racial prejudice is unacceptable, and using religion to cover for it is even worse. Not only have you proven youself ignorant, you’ve also proven yourself insincere and immature.

At the end of the day, “otherizing” someone is really no different than the schoolyard bullying that so much of us faced growing up. It might be wrapped up in more sophisticated packaging, but it’s the same stuff. It’s writing off an individual instead of dealing with the discomfort he or she triggers in you. Let’s get honest for a minute: when you (and I do this, too, so I’m fair game for this question) demonize someone as an “other”, is that really an effort to avoid dealing with the issue that he or she triggers in you? If it is, what would be so bad about dealing with that issue? You might gain a little wisdom; you’ll certainly gain a little more personal maturity. And that’s not such a bad thing, is it?


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