Thursday, February 21, 2008

Reactionaries and Michelle Obama: Dejavu All Over Again

by Norman Markowitz

There is flack all over the internet and on radio-tv over Michelle Obama's comment that her husband's campaign for president and his achievements made her proud of her country "for the first time." I even heard a small talking sports talker on a New York all sports radio station saying he was thinking of voting for Obama, but after her comment, "Hello John McCain."

While this is propaganda is coming from the right and is predictable, I would suggest that before the Clinton campaign thinks of playing with this (if they do, which I am not saying they are or will) they
should remember that it is similar to the propaganda ploy that the right Republicans used against Hillary Clinton in 1992, when they went wild over her statement that she would not simply "stand by her
man" (even though she did) and simply be the housewife baking cookies(which she never had been).

An old truism about reactionaries is that they learn nothing and forget nothing and continue to do the same thing over and over again, whether it works or not. Their sexist attacks on Hillary Clinton failed to defeat her husband, whom the portrayed as "Billary," and their subsequent demonization of her as an evil left wing female puppeteer, advancing "un-American" policies in the administration, merely highlighted how disconnected from any reality their prejudices were.

Now they are beginning to do the same thing with Michelle Obama, a women who like Hillary was a bright professional woman when she married her husband and would add a great deal to his administration as she has positively to his campaign.

As the Obama campaign continues (and it still may very well be defeated, given the opposition that stands against it) it is reminding me more and more of the Civil Rights movement itself, African Americans, progressive whites, young people, working class white people who knew or came to learn that racism was their enemy not their friend, people who, in the words of a white woman civil rights activist whom I often quote to my history classes, came to believe that the U.S. could and would become "an actual democracy."

These Civil Rights activists were standing up to the flag wavers who either supported or were silent on questions of racism and militarism and taking the flag away from them. They were often, thanks to their struggle and the leadership of Martin Luther King, Jr. and others, "proud" of their country for the first time--especially those who had matured in the postwar cold war era, and weren't too proud of the Truman Doctrine, NATO, the Korean War, the nuclear arms race, McCarthyism, mindless installment plan consumerism which its message that you are what you buy, and cliches like "the family that prays together stays together." They were proud to be making history in a positive sense, and that is what, I feel, the mass movement supporting Senator Obama is trying to do today. And that is what I think Michelle Obama meant in the comments that the flag wavers of today are denouncing and using as evidence that she will be another "uppity woman," another Hillary Clinton.

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