Posted by: morgan1965 | September 12, 2012

President Barack Obama and RESPECT

When I was growing up, I was taught to show respect for my elders at all times. If I failed to show respect where respect was due, I would suffer the consequences, such as a reprimand or some stricter form of discipline. For example, I could not address an adult by his/her first name. A minister must be addressed as Reverend or Pastor preceding that person’s last name. A school teacher was Mrs., Miss or Mr. This strict personal protocol has persisted into my adult years. I believe this is a good practice.

I also was taught that there are certain offices or positions that command respect. One should respect the office of school principal, local church pastor, mayor of the city, governor of the state, episcopal leader of a judicatory, or president of the United States as examples.

It is a part of judicial practice and tradition to address the presiding judge as Judge or your Honor. It is a matter of respect. A person who fails to respectfully address the presiding judge in a court of law would likely face a contempt of court charge.

Just what is respect? Respect is to give or show deferential regard for someone or something. Respect is the matter of holding someone in high esteem. It seems to me that respect of others is deeply rooted in self-respect. One cannot respect other human beings if there is no respect for oneself.

The office of president is the highest political office in the U.S. form of democratic government. The office of president is held in high regard and the person in that office commands respect by virtue of being the nation’s president.

Unfortunately, during the tenure of President Obama, we have witnessed examples of certain individuals who have shown blatant disrespect for the President. Let’s consider a few examples of this problem. First, there is the persistent birther nonsense. There are some folk who deny that President Obama was born in the United States. Second, there was the “you lie” outburst by a member of Congress during a joint session of Congress. This member rudely interrupted the President’s State of the Union message. Third, Arizona’s governor put her finger in the President’s face. If she had a bone to pick with the president, she should have had a private discussion with him. The president was not born in Kenya; he was born in the United States. Fourth, there have been attempts to define the President as a foreigner. Finally, there are some folk who refuse to address the President as President Obama, choosing to simply say Obama. These are a few examples of disrespect displayed toward the President.

During the recent Republican National Convention, the venerable Clint Eastwood chose to mock President Obama by having a conversation with an empty chair. Eastwood’s diatribe was shamefully disrespectful of President Obama.

In addressing an empty chair as though the President were seated in it, he treated the President as an invisible man. This scene was reminiscent of Ralph Ellison’s book titled, “Invisible Man,” the saga of a young black man. Although this black man was college-educated, he experienced great struggles to survive and to achieve in a racially divided society where there was a chasm between black and white. The society refused to see him as a human being. His journey was the life of an invisible man. The novel’s setting is the pre-Civil Rights era in America where black Americans lived in a racially segregated society. Black Americans did not enjoy the rights of full citizenship. As late as 1865, black men were not perceived as men, but as property.

What did Eastwood have in mind when he portrayed the President from the perspective of an empty chair? Why did his audience laugh at his impromptu mumbling and rambling?

Eastwood disrespected the President by attempting to portray him as an invisible man. He further disrespected him by telling his imaginary character to shut up. He disrespected the President by suggesting that his imaginary character was using profane images.

In my upbringing as an African American male and a disciple of Jesus Christ, I learned to have respect for all of God’s children, from the President of the United States to the sanitation worker, and the homeless person who is living on the street.

When President Obama was inaugurated as president, some pundits wondered whether this event might have marked an end to racism in America. What do you think?

During my lifetime, I do not recall that any other president has endured the kind of disrespect that has been inflicted on President Obama. Could it be that this disrespect is couched in the tide of abiding racism that continues to ebb and flow across America?

Think about it!

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