Is it just me or does it appear that this family, specifically this First Lady, has been “joked” about more than any other First Lady, and in the most degrading way?
The most recent affront to the First Lady of this country came just last week, when the Kansas House Speaker, Republican Mike O’Neal, emailed a cartoon which referred to Mrs. Obama as “Mrs. Yomama.” It compared the First Lady to the Grinch, a Dr. Seuss character, because in the photo, Mrs. Obama’s hair was windblown.
The text of the cartoon read, “I’m sure you’ll join me in wishing Mrs. YoMama a wonderful, long, Hawaii Christmas vacation – at our expense, of course.”
O’Neal later apologized, but it rang hollow. The disrespect shown to this President and his family, much with racist undertones, has been despicable. This event came just a couple of weeks after a Wisconsin Republican, Jim Sensenbrenner, commented on the size of Mrs. Obama’s behind, saying that she was a hypocrite for waging a war against obesity.
What the comments show, some of which the originators say are supposed to be “jokes,” is the underlying racism which leads to this horribly disrespectful attitude toward our president and his family. I am not sure how Mrs. Laura Bush or Mrs. Barbara Bush were joked about or commented upon when their husbands were in office. I don’t remember any jokes about them, but the larger fact is, there seemed to be sacred, protective veil around them which kept them insulated against such indignity. No matter their foils, imperfections or foibles, they were off limits.
Not so with Michelle Obama. From the beginning both she and the President have been the focus of some of the most demeaning, stereotypical images that seem to come from a racist American core that is full of virulence, hatred, fear, and resentment. These references and images also speak to an overlying arrogance that suggests that it is OK to disrespect this President and First Lady; after all, they are just (the “n”) word.
Is this blatant disrespect of President and Mrs. Obama as alive and as common as it is because they are African American? One cannot help but think so. Why didn’t anyone spew “jokes” about the physical characteristics of either of the Bush wives? Why didn’t we hear legislators joke about Nancy Reagan (although, to be fair, they did talk about Nancy Reagan’s presence in the White House; still, they were not disrespectful!), or about Betty Ford?
Racism, the American kind, is all over the world, because Americans have spread it. People in Europe have been “taught,” if you will, or “coached” in how to think about African Americans from white Americans themselves. It is galling to think that legislators are not stopping to think how their disrespect of the most powerful man in the world and his family is affecting the way people all over the world will think of them and refer to them as well.
To those who write and say such disparaging things, calling those statements “jokes,” understand something: there is nothing funny about what you are doing and saying. You are feeding the shame of America, which is its racism.
Our president and his family deserve the same respect that has been afforded all other presidents. Anything less than that is unacceptable, and legislators who engage in helping to spread or feed racist attitudes and feelings are agents of infection in a country where the infection has been rampant for far too long.
A candid observation…
© Candid Observations 2012