Anybody out there ever watch the Family Guy cartoon on the American Goebell’s Network otherwise known as FOX? The only reason to watch FOX is for cartoons such as The Simpsons or The Family Guy. How ironic FOX airs cartoons with satirical commentary about America’s conservative culture.
Anyway, some years ago, an episode of the Family Guy showed imbecile father/husband Peter Griffin watching Star Trek on television. In typical Peter fashion he observed, “Holy crap! Lt. Uhura is black!” Adding to the humor was how Peter watched Star Trek regularly and only realized Uhura was black that very moment.
Watching news coverage of this year’s presidential campaign I feel like everyone from corporate media executives, field reporters and the Clintons have declared: “Holy crap! Barack Obama is black!”
Bill Clinton hoped to diminish the outcome of South Carolina by noting how Jesse Jackson (a black man!) won the primary in 1984 and 1988. In other words just a black man getting a lot of black votes in South Carolina. Black votes can’t possibly be considered as a credible bellwether of a candidate’s political viability unless they’re supporting the Clintons. The media of course fanned the flames of race to further generate hype. Hype is far easier to cover than substance anyway.
Sadly, it will only get worse as we approach Epic Tuesday on February 5th. You will read and hear more “horserace” garbage about the Clintons scheming for the woman vote and using subtle codified language to remind voters that Obama is the “black candidate.” Meanwhile, the John Edwards populist anti-corporate message will be dwarfed, as the media instead focuses on how he splits white southern voters with Hillary Clinton.
Finally, you will begin to read how important Hispanic voters are in states such as California as pundits ponder whether “brown” voters combined with women will help Clinton over Obama. A subtle backdrop to all this is how the corporatist media could never allow John Edwards to prevail because he just might implement policies that benefit wage earners at the expense of America’s corporatist pro-war plutocracy. Populism isn't sexy and doesn't fit into a narrative that reconciles with America's corporatist brain massage machine.
Please forgive me for pointing out that the stakes demand infinitely more respect than treating this election as an insipid beauty contest. For starters, the greatest threat to humanity today is global warming. Nothing else comes close. Certainly not the fear mongering canard known as "radical Islam" exploited by sniveling neo-cons.
On Thursday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon cited a report from Independent Alert, a London based peace organization that identified 46 countries with 2.7 billion people where climate change and water-related crises create "a high risk of violent conflict" while an additional 56 countries, with 1.2 billion people "are at high risk of violent conflict." I posted about this very topic in December 2005 and noted evidence of a growing water shortage in the American southwest.
How come we never hear any of the candidates asked about the world’s pending crisis regarding access to fresh water? All the Democratic candidates and John McCain regularly utter platitudes about global warming but have any of them even thought through the challenges ahead once global water shortage reaches critical mass? Has any journalist thought of asking them about the issue during the debates instead of their usual gotcha drivel?
And then there is the minor problem of America’s crumbling infrastructure. Typically, infrastructure and capital projects fall under the bailiwick of state and local governments. Seven years of insipid conservative rule, crony capitalism and tax cuts favoring the rich have created a fiscal calamity for municipal governments nationwide. Perhaps the candidates should be asked if they have a plan to bail out municipal governments and how they intend to pay for it.
In yesterday’s New York Times, William Yardley reported about the increasing demands for infrastructure repairs and the inability of municipal governments to meet their obligations. If you think that isn’t important I suggest talking to those Minnesota families who lost loved ones when the Interstate 35W bridge collapsed last summer. And don’t get me started on New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina.
If we're discussing race why not ask the candidates about the number one growth industry in America today: incarcerating young black men to populate our prisons? America’s prison industrial complex is as much a blight on our national soul as Guantanamo. What does Barack Obama think about that? Perhaps he should be asked that question during the debates.
Finally, I realize Americans would prefer to just ignore the world but like it or not, we’re currently occupying two countries. Regardless of whatever propaganda you read about the surge working in Iraq or progress in Afghanistan, our continuing occupation of both countries is ineffective and immoral. Yet how many interviews have you observed with the presidential candidates when they’re not asked a single question about either Iraq or Afghanistan? Why not ask the presidential candidates what they intend to do about the increased opium trade in the United States due to our occupation in Afghanistan?
There is also more to the world than America’s occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. Rape and violence against women is used as a weapon in the Congo’s ongoing civil war. Genocide continues in Kenya and Darfur. The Bush Administration, Prime Minister Olmert’s government in Israel and Palestinian President Abbas thought they could simply inhumanely ignore the people of Gaza. As a result there is a border crisis with Egypt to further destabilize the region.
Challenges abound at home and abroad with far reaching repercussions for our society, economy, security and ecosystem. Furthermore, the American empire is disintegrating and the fall out needs to be managed with tolerance and sense. But who cares about any of that? Barack Obama is black! Holy crap!