“…it feels like hope is finally making a comeback.” Those words are important.
Those are the words that everyone seems to forget when they quote Michelle Obama. “…for the first time in my adult life I am proud of my country because it feels like hope is finally making a comeback.” They love to quote the first part about being proud for the first time with her country, and then scream about how horrible a phrase that should be for any American to utter much less the First Lady of the United States.
The difference is, not only are they leaving out what I think is the most important part of the quote, they are pretending like this woman feels she needs to lie to prove she is patriotic. You see lying to appear patriotic, that’s become a norm in America these days. And we seem to be fine with that.
There are those who will scream Support Our Troops (even put on a bumper sticker or hang a flag from their porch), yet when someone points out that those same troops are being underpaid, are being forced into 3 or 4 tours, are not given proper armour as they are sent into a war zone, are being raped in huge numbers by their fellow soldiers, are committing suicide in massive numbers, are coming back with PTSD and have to beg for help, are coming back to no jobs, homelessness or families that have had to live in welfare while they were serving their country – silence.
There are those who will scream We Are A Christian Nation (even put a fish on their bumper or wear a cross around their neck), but at the end of the day, when it comes to providing healthcare for those who are dying from lack of money, providing benefits for those who lost their jobs through no fault of their own, providing food or shelter for those who are victims of a recession that they didn’t cause or are in need of help to find a safe home, a safe school or a safe country – silence.
There are those who will scream about The Constitution (even say things like they will die defending it), but when it comes down to things like true equality for those Americans (Americans who actually were born on American soil, to American parents, so by the definition of our country – these are Americans) – but god forbid they are gay, or Muslim, or a minority. Because what the election of Barack Obama has shown us is that this country likes to scream about things like taxes and socialism, but we all know it’s actually just a thinly veiled fear of the ‘other’ having a little power over your dumb ass. And if anyone points to the Constitution, then points to a Black, Muslim, Gay Woman and says, ‘Does this document not apply to her as well, if she wanted to run for President, marry the person she loves, expect the same respect, pay and rights as you?’ – silence.
Michelle Obama was born in 1964, that was the year they signed the Civil Rights Act and the following year they signed the Voting Rights Act, neither which would have meant much to a newborn or one-year-old. Those years were also the beginning of the Space Race, the Women’s Movement, Medicare, Vietnam, etc. Things we look at now and think Wow, what a Great time in History! But remember something very important…the Civil Rights Act didn’t stop the fact that we treated Blacks horribly and voting rights didn’t mean we made it any easier for them to vote. The Women’s Movement didn’t mean suddenly women were seen as equals, in fact, things were so bad they felt they needed to organize for justice. Medicare came about around the same time we created the Economic Opportunity Act – because poverty in America had reached frightening proportions.
My point is that Michelle Obama grew up in a country that was in the throes of demanding rights for blacks, rights for women and rights for the poor. She also grew up during a time when both Vietnam and the Cold War were in full swing. We were, as an American powerhouse, sending our men and women to die in a war that had nothing to do with us, spending millions on a race to the moon and teaching our kids that huddling under a wooden desk, would somehow save them from a nuclear explosion.
Add to that Watergate, the Nixon Years, Kent State, an Oil Crises and everything most of us remember from the 60’s and the 70’s. Then we decided to stick Reagan into the mix. A man who created Big Government while denouncing big government, who created a huge deficit while screaming against spending money and who put programs into place (Star Wars) that cost our country unprecedented amounts of money, while putting ideas into place (Trickle-Down Economics) that we’ve been reaping the negative effects from for decades to come.
Then we threw in the Bush Years. A false election result, an Iraq war based on lies, the mistreatment of Muslim-Americans in their own country and watching what the Banks, Wall Street and Major Corporations are willing to do to this country – even take it to the brink of a Great Depression – all while those in power just (at best) watch, (at worst) had a hand in.
Meanwhile, through all of this, Michelle is still an educated, black woman in America. We have seen from the Palin fiasco that Educated is not a word many Americans see as being a positive thing, calling it elitism. Somehow not being stupid became elite. Go figure.
She is Black, which we have seen with the election of Barack Obama, racism is still rampant in this country. No White President would have ever been called a ‘secret Muslim’, a Kenyan or been accused of not being born in this country. Know how I know? Because EVERY President before him was a white man, and those questions never came up, not once.
And lastly, she is a Woman. Which these last four years have shown us from the state-to-state attempts to vote in things like required vaginal invasions, to referring to rape as a choice, to voting against a Violence Against Women Act, to trying to make abortion illegal time and time again – all while voting against Equal Pay for Women and then pretending they respect you, when it’s time to win your votes. Luckily, a majority of women in America are ‘elitists’ and smart enough to see past this fakery.
So when Michelle Obama says, “…for the first time in my adult life I am proud of my country because it feels like hope is finally making a comeback.” I say, right along side her, no shit!
That day Barack Obama walked onto that stage in Chicago, I proudly proclaim that was probably the first time I, too, was truly proud of this country. Because all of our talk about equality, about being Christian-based, about goodness, about values and about us respecting ourselves enough to vote for a President that chooses integrity over fake-patriotism – I finally felt this country was finally walking the way we like to talk. We had grown some brains. And when he won the second time, and we rejected the hate-machine that has become the other party, I truly felt like we had grown some balls as well.
I refuse to denounce that woman for those words she spoke, because at the end of the day, she was not lying. And the problem with this country is we like to applaud people who say what we want to hear, even when we know they are lying – instead of supporting those of us who are just smart enough, just tough enough and truly love this country enough – to admit we still have a long way to go. Honesty is far more Patriotic than a bumper sticker, a flag pin on your lapel or saying some words over and over again with your hand on your heart.
And because we have a First Lady, and a President, who choose honesty over saying what they think we want to hear…it feels like hope is finally making a comeback.
Vince is the author of Einstein’s Shutter, among other works, available on his page Random Crap.