It’s late August, two and a half months from the 2012 presidential election. Make no mistake about it, this historic, potentially nation-changing decision is the most important political decision the people of the United States will have to make in quite some time, because whoever is chosen – whether incumbent Democratic President, Barack Obama or his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney – voters must understand how, on the one hand, this choice will divide the nation because of the two starkly different agendas of each candidate, and, on the other hand, the choice will mirror how the United States will be viewed in the rest of the world.
Today, whether many Americans realize it, the world outside our borders has changed dramatically over the past decades and is now filled with seismic divides – demographic, racial, ethnic, economic, political, social and religious – many in this country did not see coming, nor thoroughly understand. Further, it is still a fact too many Americans citizens never travel outside the country and don’t even have passports. Added to this, a majority of Americans speak only “American English” and see others in the world as inferior to what they deem as American greatness.
These shifts in the rest of the world are intricate and must be negotiated with a surgeon’s scalpel, a delicate, steady hand instead of the proverbial meat cleaver, if we are to survive intact as a world power amidst all these dramatic changes.
Many in the world – this writer included – view Americans today as a people who have lost their grip on what we, as a country, have long stood for: a nation that champions liberty, freedom of expression, religious choice, the right to cast our votes freely, to be free from oppression, racism and sexism. In truth, however, we have never been the nation that upheld these principles and practices, though it appeared we were moving toward some of these ideals when we elected a Black man President in 2008. That was an awe-inspiring, glorious moment, a singular act of political expression and courage celebrated with joy here and around the world. But that moment was short-lived in the United States and what that glorious moment promised lies in shambles today like a priceless crystal vase smashed onto concrete. Now the shards – sharp as honed razor blades – lie around our collective feet, threatening to cut us all so severely we risk bleeding to death
What has caused this? Deep-seated racism has caused it, nothing else, though many people fool themselves into believing something else other than racial animosity toward Barack Obama, our first African American president, is the cause. But racism IS the real cause; everything else is just excuses, smoke and mirrors. Far too many people, especially Whites, cannot face the truth that widespread racism is deeply rooted in our troubled, conflicted country. Yet virulent racism divides this nation so deeply it has catapulted the homeland shockingly close to the edge of collapse, leaving many us bewildered how it all happened, and so quickly.
If we were honest, ALL Americans would recognize the sad, pitiful picture of what this once great country has become, and that we citizens must shoulder some of the blame for the impending catastrophe. Why? Because we voted for, and put into office the very people responsible for our current situation, that’s why! On the other hand American citizens suffer under a complacent corporate media that permits right wing wing-nuts like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Joe Scarborough, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin and a host of others to run amok spreading lies and dangerous innuendo about President Obama that undermine the Office of the Presidency. President Obama’s challenger, Mitt Romney, has embraced the notion that the President has bowed down to world leaders, that he is an apologist for the actions of America, is merely a community organizer, that he hasn’t created jobs, has shown no leadership, has raised taxes and that he doesn’t understand how finances work.
Because of our votes and the indolence of corporate media, we face a looming financial disaster and this catastrophe is not limited just to politics; it’s happening on many levels of our essential institutions, including in the arts, education, religion and run away military spending: it is aided not only by deeply embedded racism but egregious greed.
On May 28th of this year, Mitt Romney, spoke to reporters on his “aircraft” about the support he was receiving from Donald Trump (“a bloviating ignoramus” according to Republican columnist George Will, who also commented on “the Donald’s” persistent denigration of President Obama regarding his birthplace and U.S. citizenship). Romney said, “I don’t agree with all the people who support me, and my guess is they don’t all agree with everything I believe in. But I need to get 50.1 % or more, and I’m appreciative to have the help of a lot of good people.” Translated, Mr. Romney’s statement means he will do ANYTHING to get 50.1 % of the popular vote, which doesn’t actually guarantee his election because the route to the presidency is through the Electoral College. Mr. Romney’s statement blatantly encourages Whites to cast their votes according to race rather than on whether the sitting President deserves to be re-elected based on what he has accomplished in nearly four years in office. These accomplishments include rescuing the automobile industry, killing Osama Bin Laden, ending the Iraq War, ending discrimination against same sex couples in the military, regulating credit card companies, instituting a national health care program, leveling off government spending, and steady jobs growth through his $800 billion stimulus bill – read Michael Grunwald’s fabulous book, The New New Deal, to get the truth regarding the stimulus bill – and Mr. Obama’s Executive Order, “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals,” that went into effect on August 16th of this year. This is quite a remarkable record, considering the unprecedented mess President George W. Bush left the country in. Mr. Romney is fully aware there is deeply rooted antipathy towards President Obama because of his race. And so he plays the race card against Obama, both implicitly and explicitly, every chance he gets.
In reality, Barack Obama represents precisely what the nation needs at this time and place in our history: he is young, brilliant, forward thinking, flexible, socially, economically and politically dexterous, and exceedingly tough in his handling of foreign policy. And for so many of us in the rest of this diverse, multicultural world, President Obama IS precisely the person who should be leading the United States – and in a recently released poll, a great majority of business leaders throughout the world picked President Obama over Mr. Romney as the person who would best lead the United States – during this politically charged, complex political time, his few missteps while in office, notwithstanding.
More troubling, states dominated by Republican have proposed enacting voter ID laws that, in reality, attempt to suppress, restrict or deny Democratic voters in the 2012 presidential election, primarily African-Americans, other so-called “minorities,” old and young people alike, the right to cast their ballots this November. Yet Mr. Romney refuses to denounce this blatant attempt to steal the upcoming election. There is no remorse, nor reflection, in this pernicious Republican political ploy. Should he win the election by these illicit means, what does Mr. Romney think people outside the United States will think of his election? While Republican hawks vow to uphold democracy around the world, how does voter suppression impact that sacred tenet in the eyes of those around the globe? Do these Republicans think other people all over the world won’t notice what they are doing here to prevent people from exercising the right to vote? Aren’t they aware that people all over the globe use the internet, twitter, facebook, and all kinds of social media at a rate that is possibly higher than in the United States? Believe me; this will harm our nation’s image immeasurably. How can a nation that has championed free elections all over the world as a path to a country’s sacred ideal of Democracy get away with voter suppression?
And what exactly does Mitt Romney offer the country as a would-be President of the United States? By what we know of him, Romney offers us a record of lies, deceit, denial, obfuscation, and personal ambition. He already owes the country a tremendous amount of explanations. Like for instance, like why he confiscated all computer hard drives holding his record as governor of Massachusetts? Have all the hard drives been erased? Also, at the time of writing this editorial, Mr. Romney still refuses to discuss his record at Bain Capital: why? Then there are the questions of his back tax returns, which as of this date he refuses to release; his tenure as head of the 2004 Olympics, and whose financial records he also confiscated; did he scrubbed them clean, too. What about the millions he’s allegedly secreted in off-shore bank accounts in the Cayman Islands and Switzerland; why can’t he come clean with voters if he wants to be President of the country? Fiurther, Mr. Romney has no foreign policy experience, which he proved in London at the Olympics and on his subsequent visits to Israel and Poland. Finally, we know Mr. Romney wants to cut taxes for rich people by trillions of dollars, that he would gut Social Security and attempt to abolish Medicare and President Obama’s health care act.
In spite of having run for the office of the presidency for twelve consecutive years, Mr. Romney is quite a backwards-looking man, rooted in the past. He appears arrogant, socially and politically inflexible, is a “flip-flopper” on many important issues that comes to mind, and seemingly incapable of telling the truth, especially when he talks about his and President Obama’s political records. He questions Mr. Obama “faith” while refusing to discuss how his Mormon religion informs his own world and political view. He calls President Obama an “appeaser” and an attacker of capitalism, but refuses to explain why the stock market continued to soar during Mr. Obama’s tenure in office. In spite of 4 million jobs having been created during the Obama administration, Mr. Romney claims that Mr. Obama hasn’t created any jobs and that he has raised taxes, even though Obama, in fact, has cut taxes. Another absolute lie is Mr. Romney’s assertion Mr. Obama is “weak” on foreign policy. Like many of Mr. Romney’s supporters, who are “tea party” members and so-called “birthers,” Mr. Romney readily casts aspersions as to whether Mr. Obama’s is a true “American,” He remains silent while his advocates call Mr. Obama “the food-stamp president” and simultaneously complains that the Obama campaign employs dirty politics when they attack his lies and his known record. (He’s such a whiner when he is attacked!)
Deeper still, Mr. Romney surrounds himself with mostly rich, greedy White men (the likes of Donald Trump, most notably) and former George W. Bush neo-conservatives and warmongers. I have yet to see (with the exception of the “White” Cuban, Marco Rubio) any people of color around him. Mitt Romney has been dubbed a “vulture capitalist,” one who destroys companies to make money for himself and his stockholders. Is this really the type of person needed in the Oval Office, running the country in such perilous times?
It’s a sick, toxic mess we are living in today. I shudder to think how bad it will be if Mitt Romney wins the presidency, with Paul Ryan, a right-wing, radical zealot who also lies about President Obama’s record with a smile (who also lacks foreign policy experience and is a proven hypocrite regarding much of his record in Congress) as his Vice President. Look at the facts on the ground: a tiny, select group of giant corporations (maybe six or seven) and some extremely wealthy, extremely conservative old White men will have a tremendous impact on the next president of this country if it is Mitt Romney. Because it is THEIR money that is supporting Mr. Romney and much corporate media (who control at least 80 percent of the media, which in turn controls what we see, hear, how we see it and digest it) provide their tacit approval. And thanks to the Citizens United ruling of the Supreme Court these corporations are able to pour unlimited amounts of cash into political campaigns, overwhelmingly supporting right-winged Republican candidates. This is a critical issue that we as concerned American citizens need to keep in mind when we go to the polls.
Perhaps Politicians in Washington and all over this country – along with American citizens – should keep in mind the example that was on display at the Summer 2012 Olympics, where teamwork, pride of country over narrow partisanship and a sense of collective purpose were on display. Such important attributes are key to a bright, promising future for any nation. But don’t hold your breath waiting on an avaricious, stupid, short sighted, selfish Washington political elite – and the American electorate, which sadly seems to be more divided than ever – to move collectively to right the wrong-headed direction in which this nation is headed at breakneck speed. I truly hope we can apply the brakes to halt this catastrophic death plunge, though I doubt it. Still, always the optimist, I hope we can pull back from the edge of the cliff and come together as a country. It’s going to be difficult, but as Malcolm X once said: “only time will tell” and indeed it will.
Changing the subject, we are again very proud of this new issue of Black Renaissance Noire. We have in this issue wonderful interviews conducted by the French scholar, Francois Noudelmann, with the great Nobel American novelist, Toni Morrison and Jan Garden Castro’s conversation with the American artist, Sanford Biggers. In addition, there are probing, revealing and controversial non-fiction pieces by Ishmael Reed, Dr. Gerald Horne and Walter Gordon. We are proud to publish very fine fiction by William Melvin Kelley and Michael Datcher, poetry by Paul Celan, Will Alexander, Pierre Joris, Monica Hand, Sarah Scheig, K. Curtia Lyle, Greg Hewitt and Desiree Alvarez. Finally, there are marvelous visual portfolios of art and photographs by Will Calhoun, Willie Cole, Osaretin Ighile and Nandipha Mntambo.
As always let me hear your opinions of this new issue, whether positive or negative. And thank you for your continued support of our efforts in the past and we welcome it in the future.