It’s been quite a week for the New York Times. From the reach of a story suggesting a romantic relationship between Senator John McCain and a lobbyist who graduated from IUP to another piece hinting that more and more Americans are giving up golf ( if that is true, why aren’t the greens fees going down as well ). Monday, another story that at least initially looked to me like it was trying to spark fear and create a story where there was none.
The piece, entitled In Memories of a Painful Past, Hushed Worry About Obama, essentially says given the proximity Senator Barack Obama is to clinching the Democratic nomination that suddenly has made him a target for assassination. The comparison is made to a couple of young charismatic leaders like Obama who were gunned down 40 years ago: Dr. Martin Luther King Junior and Senator Robert F. Kennedy. Obama – to his credit – says he’s not worried citing the fact that neither King nor Kennedy enjoyed the Secret Service protection he has had since last May.
However, upon reading the article, there was some substance behind it. It spoke to the fact that some in African-American community would not vote for Obama out of fear for his safety. That is something I have heard from my elders and those around during the 1960’s. Also, I realize there is hatred everywhere and it’s no surprise this fear is now coming to light in the press as the candidates campaign in Ohio – which according to the Anti-Defamation League – has the highest amount of hate group activity in the country currently.
While I do not fear for Obama’s safety, I’m not a Pollyanna in the ways of the world. Yes, the threat is there and the threat is greater for Obama than Hillary. That’s not sexism, that’s being honest. Rarely does a woman’s grab at power on a national level incite the kind of violence we have seen when African-Americans make a run at office.
At the same time, I think we cannot let that fear dictate our lives. Obama faces the same challenge that the civil rights leaders of the past faced: trying to push for a change in an atmosphere where there are those who want to protect the status quo. Despite Obama’s popularity, he is still seen as black by many Americans and the worlds of Governor Ed Rendell, though not popular, do hold true. There are those who simply will not vote for a black man for the Presidency.
But never should we let fear take control our lives, whether we are fighting to become President of the United States or standing up to injustice in our own neighborhood.
photo courtesy: Associated Press