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Stuff that Needs to be Said

[this is a blog post by pastor John Pavlovitz]

I remember the day after the Election, a friend of mine who happens to be white, remarked on social media that he “finally wasn’t embarrassed of America and our President.”

I sprained my eyes rolling them and they have never fully recovered.

Since then I’ve heard this sentiment echoed by more white folks than I can count, especially in recent months; supposed relief at once again having a leader who instills pride.

Since I don’t have the time to ask each of the individually, I’ll ask here:

So, you were embarrassed for the past 8 years, huh?

Really?

What exactly were you embarrassed by?

Were you embarrassed by his lone and enduring twenty-five year marriage to a strong woman he’s never ceased to publicly praise, respect, or cherish?

Were you embarrassed by the way he lovingly and sweetly parented and protected his daughters?

Were you embarrassed by his Columbia University degree in Political Science or his graduating magna cum laude from Harvard Law School?

Maybe you were embarrassed by his white American and Black Kenyan parents, or the diversity he was raised in as normal?

Were you embarrassed by his eloquence, his quick wit, his easy humor, his seeming comfort meeting with both world leaders and street cleaners; by his bright smile or his sense of empathy or his steadiness—perhaps by his lack of personal scandals or verbal gaffes or impulsive tirades?

No. Of course you weren’t.

Honestly, I don’t believe you were ever embarrassed. That word implies an association that brings ridicule, one that makes you ashamed by association, and if that’s something you claim to have experienced over the past eight years by having Barack Obama representing you in the world—I’m going to suggest you rethink your word choice.

You weren’t “embarrassed” by Barack Obama.

You were threatened by him.
You were offended by him.
You were challenged by him.
You were enraged by him.

But I don’t believe it had anything to do with his resume or his experience or his character or his conduct in office—because you seem fully proud right now to be associated with a three-time married, serial adulterer and confessed predator; a man whose election and business dealings and relationships are riddled with controversy and malfeasance. You’re perfectly fine being represented by a bullying, obnoxious, genitalia-grabbing, Tweet-ranting, Prime Minister-shoving charlatan who’s managed to offend all our allies in a few short months. And you’re okay with him putting on religious faith like a rented, dusty, ill-fitting tuxedo and immediately tossing it in the garbage when he’s finished with it.

None of that you’re embarrassed of? I wonder how that works.

Actually, I’m afraid I have an idea. I hope I’m wrong.

Listen, you’re perfectly within your rights to have disagreed with Barack Obama’s policies or to have taken issue with his tactics. No one’s claiming he was a flawless politician or a perfect human being. But somehow I don’t think that’s what we’re talking about here. I think the thing President Obama did that really upset you, white friend—was having a complexion that was far darker than you were ever comfortable with. I think the President we have now feels much better.

Because objectively speaking, if what’s happening in our country right now doesn’t cause you great shame and doesn’t induce the continual meeting of your palm to your face—I don’t believe embarrassment is ever something you struggle with.

No, if you claimed to be “embarrassed” by Barack Obama but you’re not embarrassed by Donald Trump—I’m going to strongly suggest it was largely a pigmentation issue.

And as an American and a Christian committed to diversity and equality and to the liberty at the heart of this nation—that, embarrasses me.


Also published on Medium.

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12 Comments

  1. Dave, TN wrote:

    Me too!

    Wednesday, May 31, 2017 at 11:32 am | Permalink
  2. j. wrote:

    Really can’t think of any other reason for the hatred of Obama, you really put it out there. I haven’t wanted to admit that’s why people hated him, but now I know that it’s true. I will puzzle it forever why anyone would continue to support Trump, can’t fathom it. “So sad”, that we have to cope with this on the world stage. It is embarrassing! j.

    Wednesday, May 31, 2017 at 11:43 am | Permalink
  3. notycoon wrote:

    Here’s an excellent article regarding the “Christian” right and Trump. That they continue to cling to Trump truly baffles me and this article may help to explain at least some of the phenomenon. Don

    https://www.ft.com/content/b41d0ee6-1e96-11e7-b7d3-163f5a7f229c

    Wednesday, May 31, 2017 at 12:15 pm | Permalink
  4. Iron Knee wrote:

    NoTycoon, that article is behind a paywall.

    Wednesday, May 31, 2017 at 7:21 pm | Permalink
  5. Ralph wrote:

    Amen!

    Wednesday, May 31, 2017 at 8:18 pm | Permalink
  6. bobsuruncle wrote:

    You can google the title and find that someone repostep the article, in its entirety, on a forum discussion.

    Wednesday, May 31, 2017 at 8:29 pm | Permalink
  7. notycoon wrote:

    Thanks, Bobsuruncle. Love your name, by the way. Funny about the link. Sometimes it would work and others it wouldn’t.

    Wednesday, May 31, 2017 at 11:26 pm | Permalink
  8. William wrote:

    Here’s one copy of the article that NoTycoon mentioned:

    https://patrick.net/1305138/2017-04-18-how-the-bible-belt-lost-god-and-found-trump

    Thursday, June 1, 2017 at 1:35 am | Permalink
  9. Mountain Man wrote:

    Don’t get too carried away. It’s NOT an issue of “white people” being embarrassed by a black President. It’s an issue of a small minority of white people having that problem. Just look at this President’s current nationwide approval ratings and compare them to those of Barack Obama when he left office. And don’t forget that Donald Trump LOST the popular vote to the tune of MILLIONS. No, the problem isn’t a “white people” vs “minorities” issue – it’s a gerrymandering issue. The tail is wagging the dog here and it’s time for those of us who don’t like it to stick together, work together and especially to VOTE together. We’ve got to get these extremists out of power and move to the middle again.

    Friday, June 2, 2017 at 8:37 am | Permalink
  10. Wildwood wrote:

    Mountain Man, I’m not sure what the middle is anymore. I’m pretty sure my middle is not everyone’s middle. But I will be happy if we, at least, start heading towards it.

    Friday, June 2, 2017 at 10:38 am | Permalink
  11. Mountain Man wrote:

    In politics, in my view, middlegrounders are characterized by a willingness to accept compromise and to work together with those who have different perspectives to find mutually acceptable, if imperfect, solutions to problems impacting all. Politicians in the middle are willing to give and take. They don’t demand or expect to get everything their way right now. American politics has become “polarized” to the extent that both the right and the left have become increasingly intolerant of compromise. Examples of middlegrounders, again in my view, include Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and Jerry Brown for the Democrats and George HW Bush, Ronald Reagan and, more distantly, Dwight Eisenhower for the Republicans.

    Friday, June 2, 2017 at 11:05 am | Permalink
  12. Iron Knee wrote:

    Mountain Man, there are differing definitions of middle. The definition you propose (someone who works for the possible, and doesn’t let the perfect get in the way of the good) I would call a “pragmatist”. Someone in the middle can still be an ideologue, but the fact that their ideology is already a compromise makes them look like a pragmatist, even if they aren’t!

    I love Barack Obama because he is a moderate, *and* a pragmatist.

    Saturday, June 3, 2017 at 12:42 pm | Permalink