Wednesday, March 12, 2008

open mouth, insert feet

I don't like to blog when I'm angry. It's too easy to say something I'll regret when I've had a chance to cool down, and by that time there's no telling who will have read it, or if I'll remember to take it down.
So I've waited a few days to get over my initial reaction, and I just want to say: It sounded really ignorant when someone I know said that if Barack Obama is elected to the presidency, "He would make a good role model for black people." Or "I don't think other nations would take us seriously if we had a woman for a president."
Really ignorant. I'd like to say I understand what this person meant, but I'm afraid I don't.
Yes, I suppose Obama would be -- is -- "a good role model for black people." He's been that already, as an advocate for the poor in Chicago, with the respect and grace he's shown his opponents even when they haven't reciprocated, and with his ability to get along with people on both sides of the party divide. But that's just ... demeaning ... to summarize his campaign as though he were running to be a "role model for black people," or as though black people needed a role model more than people of any other skin color.
Good grief. I've known this person for years, and have never considered this person to be racist. Where the heck did this comment come from?
And the one about Senator Clinton. Not take us seriously if we had a woman for a president? If I wanted to be snarky, I could point out that no one on the world stage takes us very seriously right now with the man we have as president, so there's not much to lose, but I'm trying hard not to be snarky.
So let me point out that in Pakistan, they took Bhutto seriously enough that her opponents assassinated her. In Europe, they seem to take Chancellor Angela Merkel pretty seriously, no one condescended to Margaret Thatcher when she was prime minister of Great Britain, and in fact there have been a number of women to assume positions of national leadership in other countries, and no one dismissed them out of hand. We're one of the last Western nations not to have a woman fill the top spot of national leadership; I'd take our claims of equality more seriously if we had a woman in the Oval Office more often, and not just as first lady or an adviser.
Good grief. How do otherwise intelligent people come up with these statements?
There but for the grace of God go I.

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