Obama Publicly Shames And Ridicules Us; We Are Nonetheless Overjoyed?
Written by Paul I. Adujie
New York, United States
Obama, within one short week, gave a sanctimonious sermon in Ghana to continental Africans, and again, to peoples of African descent at NAACP convention in New York City, lectures that would elicit blissful chuckles from retrogrades degenerates revisionist such as Niall Ferguson, Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich, Patrick Buchannan and David Duke. It is saddening that instead rebukes and repudiations, some Africans offered Obama thunderous applauses! American conservatives must be blushing with delight and immense pleasure!
It is the case that Africans and peoples of African descent are perceived as powerless no consequence, as Africa is unable to avenge affronts against her. Africans are seen by most, as having no clout, no cohesion and no nuclear weapons, South Africa and Libya had nuclear ambitions which have since been eliminated and extinguished through Western pressures and manipulations.
Africa has been pulverized all through her checkered history. Some now seek to engage in putrid and pungent revisionism. And unfortunately too, some Africans are not seeing these charlatans for what they really are, hence everyone take us for granted in the first place and then, scold us, insult us and ridicule us and fear no retaliations or ramifications.
Some may argue that Obama is entitled indulge in political self preservation at Africa’s expense. And therefore, no one should expect him to squander fragile political capital on Africa which he may in fact perceive as beggars and lepers. Obama was elected as an American president and his primary obligations therefore are towards Americans.
Even so, He must not allow his words or actions not to serve as accelerants and aggravate or make worse an African image which is already devastated. Obama is hot on a hot day he chooses to walk on the shaded part of the street while peering at those of us Africans in the sunny heat from his shade of comforts. Obama is our brother alright, but, he is not entitled to mock us. He is, it should be remember, a beneficiary and recipient of sacrifices of blood sweat and tears of Africans and peoples of African descent. Let Obama do nothing for Black people. But first, let him also be told what good doctors observe as a mantra, it is, first do no harm to the patient. Obama should do no harm to continental Africans and peoples of African descent with his pandering utterances! Is Obama a beneficiary of our collective past which he now cynically exploits at our expense to placate his political opponents, his statements in Ghana and at NAACP are rather strange.
Obama would not lecture the Jews over settlements in Palestine... or he can forget any dreams of re-election. Obama knows who to abuse, just as he knows who to absolve, exculpate, exonerate and most of all, Obama knows who to PANDER to and who to disrespect and shame or ridicule in public. The unreasoned, undiscerning and uncritical examination of Obama charlatan public shaming of continental Africans and African Americans for the consumption of his conservative albatrosses is exceedingly unpleasant. Africans and peoples of African descent ought to publicly repudiate Obama’s contemptuous stances on continental Africans and peoples of African descent. It should be clear that Obama is cynically engaging in these public pandering, to fit the nitwit spurious arguments by others, called post-racial________________________________________
It is much easier to blame folks and talk about personal responsibility, than to talk about power arrangements, power structures which have existed and which still remains. Obama’s lecture in New York City to NAACP was full of his keywords reserved for continental Africans and peoples of African descent; take responsibility, make no excuses etc. Obama graciously referred to the disparity in unemployment numbers published by New York City candidate for mayor, Bill Thompson in which peoples of African descent are disproportionately affected. 15% of our people are unemployed compared with 9.5%, is the high rate of unemployment amongst our people because they want to sing, dance and play basketball? Rather, it is because of lopsided structural arrangements, which has historically put our people at tremendous disadvantage? And let me be the first to inform Obama that a good number of African Americans who are currently unemployed, are not trying to be Lil Wayne or Lebron James, instead, these African Americans are college educated and skilled professionals. Obama’s comedic clichés would have the world believe otherwise.
Obama ought to realize that there are reasons why some African Americans would want to pursue careers similar to Lil Wayne and Lebron James, such as the reality of racism in America, race, sadly, remains how life is lived in America. And certainly not as some would have you believe that African Americans are lazy, shiftless and without ambitions or big dreams. Obama also ought to know that he is not the first African American to run to be president of the United States! We must never underestimate the race factor in all these.
50% sports men and women in America are African Americans, but, surprisingly, only 2% of all coaches and managers are African Americans! Why is that Mr. President? It is because, in America, racism often tells you who you are and where you should be!
On the matter of why continental Africans and African Americans are where we are, Obama must have proper perspectives and contexts. There was Marshall Plan for Europe and Asia after the World Wars... and there was no such thing to steady Africa after the World Wars or after slave trade or after colonialism! First there was the Marshall Plan for parts of Europe and parts of Asia in the 1940s, and then came Asia Bailout of the 1990s as well as the Mexican Bailout. All through these, Where is Africa Marshall Plan and Bailout?
Just as there was no 40 acres and a mule for African Americans or any efforts to ready them for the slow integration into American society post slavery... imagine blaming them for their conditions now? That is called blaming the victim and that is exactly what I see in Obama willingly and carelessly giving America and Europe a clean bill of health and clearance over the horrors and brutalities visited on Africans all through history!
There are so many searing questions which we need ask of Obama, as well as many comparisons between countries with similar or worse institutional deficiency as in some African countries. Why is it that has Obama not shun these countries? Or talk-down to them in most patronizing and condescending manners as he has of countries on the African continent? Why do some Africans have this herd mentality of unreason, undiscerning and uncritical assessment of Obama abuse of all of us?
Why does Obama reserve the "truth" for Africans and African Americans? Why did he not talk down to the Pope with whom he disagrees on abortion and stem cell research? Why does Obama not talk down the truth to the Israelis with whom he disagrees on settlement expansion? Why does Obama not talk down and tell the truth to the Russians about chechen and nuclear and corruption and Puttin's self-succession? There are persisting questions of legitimacy over Iran’s recent elections, Obama through his Secretary of State, Mrs. Hillary
Rodham Clinton continue to offer an open door, widely ajar for direct, unconditional negotiations with Iran. Obama should just tell Iranian leaders and Mahmoud Ahmadenajad the “bitter-truth” and be “blunt” and scolding of Iranian charade and façade farcical election? That surely will be unproductive and undiplomatic no less.
What Obama engaged in, while in Ghana, is not leadership, nor diplomacy... He lectured, scolded and ridiculed Africans! In the end, absolved and exonerated America and Europe for their brutalities and horrors that are age-old... checkered history of slavery, colonialism and continued meddling and interference.
Let him take all that lecture, scolding and condescension to the Pope in Rome or to Puttin and Medvevdev in Moscow and to Netanyahu in Jerusalem! And I say no poetic license for Obama! And yes, pretending that the crises in Africa, even up to today, are self-inflicted, shallow and simplistic rubbish on the part of Obama! Obama confessed liking former US president Reagan and Obama has begun to sound more and more like Reagan and I never like Reagan! Reagan’s policies toward Africa and peoples of African descent were inhuman, twisted and warped.
Blaming the victim is not only profoundly unconscionable it is actually the hallmark of acute intellectual laziness. Or a lack of courage to address issues forthrightly. Only those who live in alternate universe would pretend that there is no cause and effect or consequences of history on our people. No one should be allowed to dismiss this with a cavalier mere wave of the hand Obama makes good rhetorical presentations, rhetorical flourishes and but with very selective memory. He is aping conservatives who say we should pick ourselves up by the bootstraps, even as we have no shoes or such advice emanating from those who stole, and continues to steal our shoes and straps!
Obama must know that continental Africans, African Americans and peoples of African descent having been striving! The Mau Mau strived, the ANC strived, the Black Panther strived. Dr. King Jr. Malcolm X etc strived. The NAACP, Urban League, Reverends Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton etc have been striving and this made an Obama possible. They can tell him a thing or two about bootstraps and our condition.
Obama generalizes when he is before continental Africans and African Americans, and he is specific and very measured, delicate and respectful when he addresses others. Anyone who is familiar with my views would have to notice that I made no distinction between continental Africans and African Americans in reference to how Obama addresses our peoples. And some others have also pointed out that Obama seem to have a “penchant to talk down on any black audience in front of him while being in his best manners when the color of the audience changes” and this supposed to be called tough love?
Why equivocate in one place and then, suddenly be blunt at the other place? This is hypocrisy and double standards? Is it cynical manipulation and exploitation? Or is it fear?
Can anyone imagine Obama attend a Jewish Conference and say to Israel, tear down the Apartheid wall which Israel has erected against Palestine! This is the bitter truth. This will be courageous admonition and it will be tough love and Obama will occupy a moral high-ground. Obama’s speeches before Israelis, American Jews, his speech before Russians, so far, are a matter of public knowledge and still in the public domain. His deference is notable. Let Obama go to a Jewish Conference and lecture about Gays, Muslims etc and then, I will have no criticism of him ever again! I would applaud Obama if he becomes consistent and single-minded Patrick Henry style, “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death!” with all his audiences.
Obama is dared to go to Jerusalem or Telaviv next time Shrill-shout Israel to tear down the apartheid wall which Israel erected against Palestinians. Would Obama be right to appear, in cavalier manner, to tell Jews to get over the impact of the Holocaust? Demjajuk a former German American is on trial in Germany for his alleged roles in the Holocaust, and would Obama be right to chastise Jews for this or to tell them to get over it? It is a post modern world after all, right?
The US Congress has eventually passed a symbolic Act which apologizes for slavery and America’s role in it. Is reparations for slavery next and would Obama push for it?
How many Israelis have spied against America? Would Obama go tell American Jews the “bitter-truth” which is that friends should not spy against to friends? Would Obama go to Moscow and “bluntly” tell the Russians to go destroy their nuclear weapons; Would Obama to Riyadh and tell the Saudis to elect a woman president; If he does all these, would have redeemed himself! And while at it, he should demand a detailed statistical data of American foreign aid for the preceding 50 years to confirm how little aid has gone to Africa. The continent of Africa, Caribbean nations, where, unarguably, the needs are greatest.
Anyone who pays even a minimum of attention to geopolitics would be familiar with the disparity in policy, toward the economic and political crises in Haiti compared with Cuba. Or the handling of Gerry Adams, the Irish Republican Army in Northern Ireland and, say, similar crises in Sierra Leone, Liberia or the Ivory Coast. Any keen observer will be familiar with policy disparity between Sarajevo, Bosnia Hezergovina, and Rwanda or Somalia. Westerners have had reasons to foist two World Wars on the world. Westerners have had reasons for crises, violence in the Balkans, in Ireland, in Chechnya, Yugoslavia, but, on the other hand, Africans always have no reason to engage in mindless violence? Africans just fight petty tribal wars? Africans are more brutal than everybody else?
There is always an outstanding reason, philosophy and logic why Westerners fight civil wars or invade and occupy other nations. There is always some reason why Westerners amass all sorts of armada, weapons of mass destruction, atomic, biological, and nuclear, but the rest of us have no reason whatsoever! Obama is a brilliant man, he is not naïve. He must be told that, even in recent memory, America funded UNITA in Angola, against the legitimate government MPLA government in Angola, and that America ensured the removal of the constitutional, but imperfect government of Haiti in 2004, and that was the first America interference in Haitian matters! I await Obama American policy on Haiti, still.
American and European interference in the internal affairs of other nations is rather legendary in the most negative sense. And it is not all ancient history to Vietnamese, Panamanians, Grenadians, Congolese, Angolans, Chileans, Argentines or Iraqis etc. And if you do not trust Google or Wikipedia on these, you could stick to old fashioned way of books on these matters.
While in Ghana, Obama attempted to portray slavery and colonialism, humanity’s worst twin evils, as if these were mere blemishes or pimples on an elephant! This even despite the dramatic continuing effects and still visible negative impacts of these twin evils on Africans! Dramatic effects on culture, language, religion, unity, economic and political development etc
Obama should adhere to, and practice what a great African American lady, Ida B Wells, once advocated in Lifting As We Climb. At a minimum, Africans and peoples of African descent expected Obama to be a catalyst, to be inspire and motivate with words and actions, but instead, of lifting us as he climbs, he is stomping his feet upon our bodies while we are down! Nobody expected Obama to bring cash or materials and certainly not his abuse. Obama is beginning to sound like a cynical puppet and an instrument against our people. Continental Africans and peoples of African descent rightly expected Obama’s political ascension and climb to lift us up, at least symbolically. He should lift us up as he climbs or what is his worth or value to us?
Some of us are quite ready for the much touted post-racial world in which Obama lives. But post-racial world is still merely a figment of wild imaginations it is not a reality yet! Obama should be reminded of the fact that his triumphal entrance into the American presidency is only a mere chance out of 44 former American presidents since the republic, in fact, it is one half of a chance, considering that Obama is biracial! And Obama should be told that there is a reason why no person of African descent has been president of the United States. And that there is a reason why the current American unemployment rate is almost 15% among African Americans and just 7% among Whites. Obama should be informed that there are reasons why African Americans received the brunt of the foreclosures induced by the financial meltdown in America. Obama should be warned not to be quick to absolve Westerners of all the details which created theses circumstances.
There is a correlation between slavery, racism and sundry discrimination against African Americans AND, their current economic and political conditions in America... from higher than average unemployment rate to higher than average incarceration rate to the fact that African Americans are charged higher interest rates by banks for mortgages. And anyone who is willing to dismiss this available empirical data is a fool or a racist!
Similarly, there is a correlation between Africa's current political conditions and the after effect of slavery, colonialism and continued meddling by America and Europe in the internal affairs of Africa! Africans by themselves are certainly not perfect, are the Americans and Europeans perfect?
African Americans are the most vulnerable economically, politically and there are reasons why this is historically. Women are in majority in every country’s populations, there are reasons why women are however not at the top notch or top echelon of the world’s political system. And there are women who are like Anna Nicole Smith, Paris Hilton and other frivolous women, shall we, because of some airhead women’s public behaviors, dismiss historical gender inequality endured by women, and say to women, get over it, move on already? Obama should be told the title of one of Maya Angelou’s great works; paraphrased, there is a reason, why, the caged bird sings!
There are structural arrangements of inequality and circumstances in America, which ensures that African Americans remain at the bottom wrung of the society and its economy and political ladder, these are similar in nature and causal in connections and effects, with continental Africans. These are the vexed matters of slavery, colonialism and continued outside interference in African internal affairs. Obama should be made to realize that his cavalier attitude in absolving and exonerating Westerners stinks to high heavens! Why has Obama chosen to overlook these mountains of evidence?
Why Are Conservatives Suddenly Praising Obama, Over Scolds in Ghana and at NAACP?
It is remarkable how American conservatives praising Obama and saying that his sermons in Ghana and at NAACP will be remembered for the next twenty years! Or perhaps, these will be how his presidency is remembered? He “stood-high moral ground?
We ought not to dismiss arguments without a critical examination of comparisons made between Obama condescension in Ghana and at NAACP versus Obama’s politesse and superb diplomacy with the Pope, the Russian, Iranians and Israelis, all, with whom he disagrees? What is so wrong in demanding that in all of this, he remains intellectually honest? He should be blunt to every audience and on every issue. Not just issues concerning African Americans, continental Africans and peoples of African descent.
If Obama wanted to act as one of us, or as our brother, he could have done one of several things. It bears repeating that would have convened an all Africa conference in Camp David, with a precedent, as has been done for the Middle East (Israel and the Arabs) more than once; Or in the alternative, Obama would attend an African Union Summit and channel his concerns. How many African leaders has he contacted? What led to Obama nonsensical outbursts in Ghana, when he has no precedent or history of engaging African leaders unsuccessfully?
How many African leaders has he tried to advice? What efforts has he made regarding Africa; which failed? Obama has been in office for barely six months! This means that he has had barely time to try any ideas with these leaders. It can be argued that he had fore knowledge of the issues. But it must be pointed out that he has not in the past had a podium and pedestal, similar in nature and extent to the sorts he now has. How many African leaders has he met? How many African leaders have rejected or refused his advice or counsel? How many summits of African leaders has Obama attended?
Clearly, it would have been more productive, polite, respectful and even diplomatic, for Obama to attend African Union Summit as a son of Africa and then make an intelligent presentations?
Obama is like a doctor who claims strong belief in prochoice or women right to abortion services and he goes to Ghana, give a sermon on abortion rights and anti abortion or prolife agitators are offering praises, this ought to make Obama deeply concerned or suspicious, if he is really a prochoice doctor.
Conditions and situations in countries on the African continent are not thrilling or enthralling. The trite which states the obvious to the effect that Africa’s redemption and salvation depend on Africans should be seen for what it is. It is neither poignant nor profound. It is actually old, tired and recycled garbage.
Speaking solely for myself, it was never my ambition to live abroad and it is still not my preference. I cowardly fled Nigeria as an economic refugee. I am not oblivious to the conditions in Nigeria and other countries in Africa. Nigeria or Africa remains where my heart is; even in this globalized world and so, a Google of key phrases such as pillage, plunder, corruption, looters, rule of law, the death penalty etc with my surname, would quickly reveal my strong views on the effect of corruption on development. Corruption’s debilitating effects are worse than the impact of terrorism!
There are assuredly challenges facing countries on the African continent. Imploring action and beseeching Africans to act quickly while the furnace is still hot is fine and decent, through meaningful engagement. And it is doubtful, in any event, that anyone would have a counter argument against such, otherwise, such counter would be tantamount to an argument against decency. I have no argument against decency.
My umbrage at Obama is driven by the fact that he spoke in Ghana as if he is unencumbered by thought process. He spoke unwilling to critically examine the causes and effects of crises in Africa. He spoke in Ghana as if Africa is unredeemable or beyond redemption. Whereas Obama uses a holistic unconditional engagement approach; what I may describe as Obama’s unconditional reboot and reset idea fixe diplomacy. I suppose Obama chose not to apply reboot reset to Africa? But why the harsher and damning rule for Africans?
The late Honorable Justice Thurgood Marshall of the United States Supreme Court, it was, I think, who once said that a snake is a snake, regardless of the snake’s color! Obama is biracial and by American standard, Black period! Some therefore expected him to be kindle-gentler. Some also expected him to summon some gumption for an improved an American African policy. Obama, even before becoming president of the United States, enumerated clearly, what would be his policy on Afghanistan, Israel, Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Palestine, Cuba to name a few. On Africa, he was fuzzy, floozy, inarticulate and generalized.
Obama is our brother, family, and it is as if our mother has some issues… challenges which have internal and external accelerants … which in turn compound our mother’s wayward ways… Obama at a family reunion, chooses to publicly shame our mother, his mother too… ironically, Obama has friends of his, who are not members of the family, but are similarly afflicted with our mother’s wayward ways!
Why does a guy who patronizes prostitutes, and, has prostitutes as best buddies, then hypocritically shrill-shout in the most public way, at a family member who is a prostitute as well?
Why does Obama who would negotiate with North Korea, Iran etc be the same guy who prefers to publicly shame and ridicule Africa in place of well reasoned, well-thought policy? Why is that all that Africa deserve from Obama? Those who have nothing good to say about Africa should hold their tongue! Obama caused my furor by using a double standards and hypocritical doublespeak replete with significant aberrations, contradictions and inconsistencies. The tremendous disparity between his self-avowed unconditional engagement with the Axis of Evil a la George Bush, compared with Obama’s public shaming, ridicule and eternal damnations for Africans, is quite glaringly dismaying.
There is enormous discrepancy in treatment between reserved for Africa on the one hand, and the different better treatment for the rest of the world on the other hand; this, even on matters in which there are identical or similar circumstances or details. Obama is our brother, and even when he indulges himself in rude behavior in public, we should just roll-over?
It is my view that image devastation is a major obstacle or impediment in the path of Africa’s progress. It is also my considered view, that it is easier to overcome poverty and illiteracy in comparison with overcoming intractable public shame and ingrained embedded ridicule. Africa has been shamed, pilloried, caricatured, demeaned, lampooned and denigrated for far too long! And Obama has to understand that there is something hugely wrong in the fact the American conservatives and ultra right-wingers are praising his public shaming, ridicule, abuses and tirades which Obama directed Africa during his few hours flyover Ghana. It is like living long enough to see David Duke praise the Reverend Jesse Jackson or the Reverend Al Sharton! If you are a continental African or a person of African descent, and you manage to receive thunderous applauses from the KKK, you must ask yourself searing questions and then, look at yourself in the mirror!
Attackers of my criticism directed at Obama framed their reactions as if believing cocksure, that I am blissfully unaware or perhaps complicit in the human condition in countries on the African continent. My attackers refuse to offer me a modicum of credit merely reminding Obama that scolding, shaming, ridiculing is no substitute for what should be a reasoned sustainable foreign policy wrapped in diplomatic finesse directed at Africa. And there is no time like now, than now, while Obama is president of the United States. It is my sincere hope that my concerns or misgivings are unjustified and wrong. And that Obama’s sermons and approaches to our peoples, produces positive effects and I will be happiest!
Obama is our brother, and our mother has some issues… challenges which have internal and external accelerants … which in turn compound our mother’s wayward ways… Obama at a family reunion, chooses to publicly shame our mother, his mother too… ironically, Obama has friends of his, who are not members of the family, but are similarly afflicted with our mother’s wayward ways!
Why does a guy who patronizes prostitutes, and, has prostitutes as best buddies, then hypocritically shrill-shout in the most public way, at a family member who is a prostitute as well?
He can engage North Korea, Russia, Iran, Israel etc but, when it comes to Africa, he should abuse us, before he meaningfully engage us in productive policy?
He is willing to engage the whole world endlessly and gingerly, but he can ridicule my continent? I say nonsense! Obama could embark in constructive engagement and give it time to work before his public lecture and Damnations
Obama has been in office as president for a mere six months. A bare six months which is not long enough for him to have had any meaningful impact, positively or negatively. It will be unfair and even disingenuous for anyone to blame him for any policy failure, foreign or domestic. As a corollary, he cannot already be irritated or frustrated before getting into policy trenches, through meaningful contacts, robust engagement and diplomatic prodding through back channels.
Obama may be unable or unwilling to recognize the continuing impact of slavery, colonialism, racism on continental Africans and peoples of African descent. Obama must get off his messianic Whitehorse and lofty mountain of condescension!