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The Two Americas Should Be Discussed Further

By       Message Thomas Farrell       (Page 2 of 3 pages) Become a premium member to see this article and all articles as one long page.     Permalink

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Now, if we were to buy into the attacks on Obama advanced in those 61 books, we might imagine that he is some kind of radical liberal. But for the most part, Obama has governed as a centrist, not as a radical liberal.


Indeed, after President Obama won re-election, William Saletan at SLATE MAGAZINE online published an article telling the GOP to cheer up because we had just elected a moderate Republican. I understand his point. However, he does not comment explicitly on the trend of radical Republicans attempting to purge moderate Republicans from the party by referring to them pejoratively as Republicans in name only (RINOS, for short).

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Certain Republicans like to console themselves by repeating the mantra that we are a center-right nation. It makes me sad to say, but, yes, today we probably are a center-right nation. However, for the most part President Obama has governed as a center-right president. But the very same Republicans who repeat the mantra about our being a center-right nation do not seem to take any comfort from having a center-right President. On the contrary, they assail him for an endless array of thought crimes, some of which are real but many of which are imaginary. Indeed, he seems to be a lightning rod for conservative attacks, as First Lady Hilary Clinton was for years a lightning rod for a vast right-wing conspiracy.


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To be sure, Obama often pays lip-service to certain liberal ideas. Occasionally, he even shows some backbone and stands up for women's rights. As I say, I think that William Faulkner was prescient in connecting white supremacy and manipulative male patriarchy in his portrayal of Thomas Sutpen. Because of the color of President Obama's skin, it is not hard to understand why people whose attitude of white supremacy remains unvanquished in their hearts and minds would see him as a symbolic target to their reservations about the proposition that all men and women are created equal. Because he occasionally shows some backbone in supporting women's rights, it is not hard to understand why he has drawn the fire of rear-guard defenders of manipulative male patriarchy.


But if all men and women are by nature equal because all of us share the same human nature, then our nation is dedicated to a radical proposition, and a government dedicated to such a radical proposition is a radical experiment in human history.


So I agree with Charles M. Blow that today there are two Americas, just as there were two Americas before the American Civil War. The American Civil War settled certain legal issues. Nevertheless, white supremacy and manipulative male patriarchy live on in the hearts and minds of many Americans today. President Obama's re-election in 2012 did not resolve this divide between the two Americas today.


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Another civil war will not resolve this divide in the hearts and minds of the American people, just as the American Civil War did not once and for all resolve this divide in the hearts and minds of 19th-century Americans.


Nor would the assassination of President Obama resolve this divide, just as the assassinations of President Lincoln, President John F. Kennedy, Senator Robert F. Kennedy, and the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, did not resolve this divide in the hearts and minds of earlier Americans.

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Thomas James Farrell is professor emeritus of writing studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). He started teaching at UMD in Fall 1987, and he retired from UMD at the end of May 2009. He was born in 1944. He holds three degrees from Saint Louis University (SLU): B.A. in English, 1966; M.A.(T) in English 1968; Ph.D.in higher education, 1974. On May 16, 1969, the editors of the SLU student newspaper named him Man of the Year, an honor customarily conferred on an administrator or a faculty member, not on a graduate student -- nor on a woman up to that time. He is the proud author of the book (more...)

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