SAN DIEGO, October 6, 2011—Who says our country can’t handle a black president? Even before the election of Barack Obama, America proved its ability to embrace far more; a black God!
True, it came from the fictitious film, Bruce Almighty but Morgan Freeman gave one of the best portrayals of God since George Burns, and Freeman was more believable in the part. His piercing eyes could look right through a person. Watching that movie, I felt that had I really been in the presence of Morgan Freeman, I might just drop to my knees and confess every single sin, thought, or deed, that I’d ever committed.
The popularity of Bruce Almighty is only one of many demonstrations that most Americans put race behind them long ago. Who even thought about skin color while they watched?
Instead, we were thinking “God.”
Unfortunately, this wonderful actor is now saying nutty things about race, and his words stand in sharp contrast to those of another African-American who laments inappropriate cries of racism, GOP candidate Herman Cain.
In the midst of a CNN interview, Piers Morgan asked Freeman, “Has Obama helped the process of eradicating racism or has [he], in a strange way, made it worse?”
Freeman’s response was downright depressing: “Made it worse. Made it worse … The Tea Partiers who are controlling the Republican party … their stated policy, publicly stated, is to do whatever it takes to see to it that Obama only serves one term. What underlines that? Screw the country. We’re going to do whatever we can to get this black man out of here” (CNN, September 23, 2011).
When asked by Fox News commentator, Neil Cavuto to comment on Freeman’s controversial words, Herman Cain said, “Well, first of all, I doubt if Morgan Freeman, with all due respect, who is a great actor, has ever been to a Tea Party … Most of the people that are criticizing the Tea Parties … about having a racist element, they have never been to a Tea Party” (Your World With Neil Cavuto, Sept, 23, 2011).
Cain makes a good point. It should be followed with some direct questions to Morgan Freeman: Mr. Freeman, if the Tea Party has a problem with black presidents, how do you explain Herman Cain rising above Perry and Bachmann in Tea Party popularity?
And Mr. Freeman, are you aware that many African-Americans attend Tea Parties? Have you heard of the Black Tea Party movement? While we’re on the subject, what do you say to African-Americans who chose not to vote for Obama in 2008? Were they racist? How about white Americans who did vote for Obama but promise they will not do so a second time? Did they overcome their racism in 2008 only to revert back?
While Cain quickly chimed in, President Obama did not respond to Freeman’s comment. How sad, inasmuch as he once contrasted himself to fellow candidate, Hillary Clinton by saying, “I think it is fair to say that I believe I can bring the country together more effectively than she can” (Washington Post, August 15, 2007).
Obama’s silence shouldn’t be a surprise. On the heels of his election, Attorney General Eric Holder described our country as “essentially a nation of cowards” because we “simply do not talk enough with each other about things racial” (CNN, Feb. 19, 2009). Maybe Holder was partially right. After all, his new boss and president seemed too cowardly to rebuke the comment.
Instead Obama said: “I think it’s fair to say that if I had been advising my attorney general, we would have used different language, I think the point that he was making is that we’re oftentimes uncomfortable with talking about race until there’s some sort of racial flare-up or conflict, and that we could probably be more constructive in facing up to the painful legacy of slavery and Jim Crow and discrimination” (CNN, March 7, 2009).
Back in 2008 we were hearing that the inauguration of Obama heralded in a new era for America: “Now that an African-American has been elected president, our country has moved beyond race.”
Unfortunately, only three months prior to his election, people were told in no uncertain terms that if they did not vote for Obama, it was only because of his skin color. His terrorist connections and his views of infanticide, gay marriage, unconditional talks with dictators and mandatory redistribution of wealth couldn’t possibly have anything to do with it.
Then again, many claimed they were voting for the man precisely because of his skin color. They made no bones about it. They bragged about it. They reveled in it. They also spoke sanctimoniously to any who dared vote against Obama. Such a “backward-thinking” person was quickly accused of racism. He was lectured in the most patronizing ways.
My favorite was Ron Howard, making a commercial with Andy Griffith in which Andy tells young Opie that some people wouldn’t want a black president and how wrong that is. Since so many of us grew up on Andy Griffith, we were given the cue to pay attention. Henry Winkler ( Fonzie) made a similar commercial. Evidently the idea was; “Don’t think! Just listen to Opie, Andy and the star of Happy Days! Boys and girls, racism is bad!” Thank you, my old television chums. Without you, we never would have known that.
In any event, Obama did win. Does this mean we can now move beyond the barriers and stop calling America a racist country? Has this watershed event taken us to the Promised Land? Is it only a recent epiphany that lets Americans accept an African-American leader? If so, how do we explain African-American Supreme Court justices, senators, congressmen, mayors, and military officers? How do we explain two consecutive African-American Secretaries of State before Obama’s election?
Why do we give out Oscars for Best Actor and Best Actress to African-Americans? Why has 24 been such a popular television program? A somewhat conservative series from the somewhat conservative FOX Network, 24 had a black president for several seasons. True, 24, like Bruce Almighty, was fiction, but their president was portrayed better than any real president in recent history. I am unaware of any hate mail sent to the producers of 24 and if there was any, it wasn’t significant enough to make major news.
The truth is, our country held a civil war to end slavery 150 years ago and discrimination has been against the law since the mid sixties. Individual racists still exist and they always will in any society, but America as a nation has NOT been a racist country for quite some time.
One might think we would have celebrated long ago.
I am reminded of the night Halle Berry won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 2002. She stopped the music, saying we had waited over one hundred years and therefore, she would take as long with her acceptance speech as she wished. I guess she forgot that Sidney Poitier won the Academy Award for Best Actor for Lilies of the Field in 1963 and that Denzel Washington won Best Supporting Actor for Glory in 1989, long before he won again, (this time, Best Actor) for Training Day in 2001, the year before Halle won hers.
Not to mention the numerous times African-Americans were nominated.
In fact, Morgan Freeman was nominated for Driving Miss Daisy, the same year Washington won for Glory. Oh wait! Those were only men. OK. Whoopee Goldberg won Best Supporting Actress for Ghost in 1990. As far back as 1939, when the Oscars hadn’t even been around for that long, Hattie McDaniel won Best Supporting Actress for Gone With the Wind.
Perhaps “Supporting Actress” doesn’t mean much, and that’s why it was special when Halle won “Best Actress” period! Oh sure, two black men had already won “Best Actor,” but now it was a woman. So what happens when a black actress wins again? Will it once more be history making, since Halle Berry is half white and therefore, she doesn’t really count all that much?
Come to think of it, Obama is half white too. Will we be going through all of this again in a few years? Will the race baiters really be satisfied? “Since Obama’s mother was white and since his father is from Kenya, the country will not really be rid of racism until an actual descendant of slaves becomes president and this time he must not be half white. He must be completely black!”
Or maybe we’ll be reminded that only part of the country voted for Obama, and many didn’t vote at all, so clearly, CLEARLY this means that half the country is still racist, maybe even three quarters racist, since some of those who did vote for Obama may have been persuaded only by Obama’s white half.
In the midst of such insane PC nonsense, men like Herman Cain are to be admired. Not only did they have to grow up dealing with racism from stupid white people, now they are treated with insulting descriptions, such as one from a recent Black Congressional Caucus member who called him an “Oreo, black on the outside, white inside” (Spokane Conservative Examiner, September 25, 2011).
What would Martin Luther King say to a comment like that? Does it fit his dream of a society which judges people by their character, and not the color of their skin?
Many other brave African-Americans have challenged backward ideas. There is quite a list between King and Cain. In fact, only a handful of years ago, CBS News conducted a very interesting interview with a prominent African-American:
Mike Wallace: “How are we going to get rid of racism…?”
Guest: “Stop talking about it. I’m going to stop calling you a white man. And I’m going to ask you to stop calling me a black man.”
Yes, it sounds like something Herman Cain would say today, but not so fast: Those were the words of Morgan Freeman, who went on to add, “I know you as Mike Wallace, you know me as Morgan Freeman” ( 60 Minutes, Dec. 18, 2005).
Oh, how the mighty have fallen! Was this Morgan Freeman 3.0? If so, how about one more question to our current Freeman 4:0?
Mr. Freeman, why shouldn’t our country think of the president, not as a black man, but merely as Barack Obama?
Bob Siegel is a weekend radio talk show host on KCBQ and columnist. Details of his show can be found at www.bobsiegel.net.
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