On Oprah and Raising Hope

First Oprah, h/t Instapundit we find out that Oprah tells the BBC that Americans disrespect Obama because he’s black.

There’s a level of disrespect for the office that occurs. And that occurs in some cases and maybe even many cases because he’s African American. There’s no question about that and it’s the kind of thing nobody ever says, but everybody’s thinking it.

Actually, no. The race card has been pulled out time and time again in response to any criticism of the current President of the United States. Of course, being the first black president, the race card had never before been pulled for a President. But that doesn’t make pulling the race card legitimate. Barack Obama was elected, and re-elected, President of the United States. The people knew he was black when they voted for him. The race card is overdrawn, and it’s been canceled.

Oprah attributes to me, and others very like me, thoughts that do not, in fact, exist in our minds. I don’t ever think about him as a black president. I don’t think of him with the more accurate description of half-black and half-white. My first thoughts about anyone don’t have anything to do with their ethnic heritage or the level of melanin in their skin. People who have a problem with President Obama have a problem with him because of his policies. People have a problem with him because of his attitude, his lies, his blame shifting, and more. Just as people had problems with President Bush that had absolutely no association with the color of his skin.

Update: Here’s a good rebuttal to Oprah from Kevin Jackson.

Now to what this has to do with Raising Hope.  (episode spoilers follow) The new season started Friday, November 15th with two episodes. The first was “Déjà vu Man”. Virginia comes home and tells Burt that she’s seen Déjà Vu Man again. He appears out of the blue, takes her picture, and disappears just as quickly. She’s seen him ever since she was a little girl. Burt thinks Déjà Vu Man is Virginia’s invisible friend. Burt talks about Cookie Man who has shown up since Jimmy was little when Burt had taken Jimmy to the park. Virginia thinks Cookie Man is Burt’s invisible friend.

But Virginia finds Déjà vu Man (Jeffrey Tambor) at the local barber shop. She asks Burt to look through the binoculars and Burt first says the barber shop quartet is in the way, then they move and he says he doesn’t see Déjà Vu Man, but he does see Cookie Man. They decide to follow him. He goes to his motel room, and when he leaves, they break into his room to find out more about him. What they find is a laptop with pictures of Virginia and her family all through her life. There’s a picture of Déjà vu Man/Cookie Man too, so Virginia snaps a picture with her phone. She decides to have some flyers printed up with the picture asking for information about who he is. Maw Maw sees the picture and reveals that he’s the man who knocked up Virginia’s mother, making him Virginia’s father.

They confront him and ask him why he never revealed himself as Virginia’s father and he said it was because he was gay. He’d gotten drunk, and he and Virginia’s mother went into a prop closet, and… He didn’t want Virginia “to grow up with the stigma of a gay father.”

Arnold (his name) and Virginia (and Burt) do a lot of things together, making up for lost time, and alienating Burt a little at the same time. Burt’s just not enjoying the activities that Virginia’s father has planned. Bike riding, art house films in French with no subtitles, eating sushi, and dressing up in Roaring Twenties clothing for a family portrait. Virginia goes along with them because she wants to get to know her father.

Burt is uncomfortable in the swimming costume he’s wearing and complains to Virginia that her father doesn’t like him. He says he’d like her father to go away and never come back.

Burt says, “he makes me uncomfortable Virginia. He’s just too different than us.” Burt is talking about Arnold’s interests. The sushi, the bike riding, the French film, not that he’s gay.

But Virginia’s father’s response, as he comes into the conversation on that line is, “I wish I could say I’m surprised to hear that kind of intolerance from someone in this town.” Burt says, “He’s right behind me, isn’t he?” and Virginia replies, “That only works if he didn’t say anything.”

Back from the commercial break, Arnold says, “Sorry to be so different from you Burt.” To Virginia he says, “Obviously, your husband doesn’t approve of my lifestyle.” Burt counters that he didn’t mean that, and Arnold says he tried, but he’ll leave. Burt goes after him to fix the situation and invites the whole town to a party to welcome Arnold back to Natesville.

At the party he goes on and on about his different interests, education, and his travels. Then Maw Maw comes out, and Virginia wants Burt to take her back inside so she won’t start gay bashing. But Maw Maw sees Arnold and wants to know what that depraved person is doing at her house. She doesn’t want that “disgusting, immoral, deviant…” Virginia says she can’t say stuff like that anymore. She says they all accept Arnold for who he is. No one in Natesville cares that he’s gay.

Maw Maw, “He’s gay? I don’t have a problem with gays. Jimmy’s gay. I love him and his little husband”(referring to Sabrina who says, “that’s the nicest thing she’s ever said to me.”). Maw Maw goes on, “but that guy is a first class narcissist.”

Arnold, “Narcissist. I think we know what that’s code for.”

Burt, “Falling asleep in the middle of sentences.”

Maw Maw, “He’s a selfish jerk who doesn’t care about anybody but himself. That’s why he left you and your mother.”

Virginia, “He didn’t leave. He was run out of town, right?”

Arnold, “Well, run out of town. Made to feel unwelcome, unappreciated, same diff.”

Sabrina, “I don’t think it really is the same. ”

Arnold, “That’s easy for you to say, you try being gay and raising a child, in this town, in the seventies.”

Barney, “Well now that you mention it, my lesbian mothers raised me in the seventies. Sure, one of them had to dress up like a man for the father/son canoe trip but they toughed it out. It didn’t hurt that she already had a mustache and a closet full of flannels.”

Arnold, “Lesbians. Everybody loves lesbians.”

Shelly, “You could have at least written her a letter.”

Jimmy, ‘Not even a phone call? They had phones in the seventies.”

Arnold, “The phone company and gay people…”

Frank, “Clearly you’re using your homosexuality as an excuse to cover up for your refusal to accept your parental responsibilities. By the way, we haven’t met. I’m Frank. Pleasure.”

Arnold, “Once again the haters in Natesville rear their ugly heads. You know you people are very interesting because you don’t seem to be able to change, do you? ”

Virginia, “You’re the one who hasn’t changed. ‘Cause now that I’m thinking about it, everything that we’ve done this week has been something you wanted to do. We had that sushi dinner ’cause you wanted it.”

Arnold: “You suggested Taco Tuesday. Do you honestly expect me to eat the street food of a migrant people?”

Virginia, “We went to that French movie because you picked it.”

Arnold, “Already saw the Swedish version.”

Virginia, “And you insisted on the theme for our family picture.”

Arnold, “Because I wanted to share it with my friends. Don’t you understand? Do you honestly expect me to show a photo of you guys dressed in what you normally do? And forgive me for trying to raise you to a higher level.”

Virginia, “Wow. I think you should leave. Again. But this time it’s my choice.”

Arnold, “Goodbye forever.”

Arnold wasn’t disliked because he was gay. He was disliked because he was a jerk. No one, including Maw Maw, had a problem with the fact that he was gay.

But Arnold took every criticism as a personal affront. That the criticisms were because of his being gay, not the real reason of his being a jerk.

There’s the line above, “Narcissist. I think we know what that’s code for.” There’s this “code” that only the one who takes offense knows. In the episode, the word narcissist was used in its dictionary meaning. Love of self. The Merriam Webster dictionary gives this example: <in his narcissism, he just assumed that everyone else wanted to hear the tiny details of his day>. Arnold had just spent time doing just that.

Oprah is doing the same on behalf of President Obama. She’s taking criticism of him being due to his being black, and discounting any other reason someone could criticize or dislike the man.

This happened with Hillary Clinton as well. Some criticism was met with, “you’re only saying that because she’s a woman!”

It happens with people of every walk of life. And it needs to stop. We are all much more than the sum of our parts, and we need to stop defining ourselves based on a single thing.

It’s all too easy to use that as an excuse.

“I didn’t get the promotion because I’m ______________.” Totally ignoring, perhaps, that you weren’t qualified, or as qualified as another applicant.

“They fired me because I’m ____________.” Ignoring, perhaps, the fact that you couldn’t do the job properly. Or you were tardy, or absent too much. Or maybe they just needed to reduce their workforce and drew straws and you got the short straw.

But then that would mean that you’d have to accept that the real reason might be something you might have some control over, or it’s just bad luck. One can work to qualify one’s self for a promotion. One can do a job properly, or get to work on time. It’s easier to put the excuse off on something like skin color, or sex, or orientation, or any of a myriad of parts that define us.

But it’s all those parts that define us. Not just one. I’m daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother, a veteran. I was until recently also a student. I volunteer. I’m a “woman of substance” as I like to say, and I’m slowly working on reducing my “substance”. I have a service connected disability rating. I have cat “children” and dog “children”. I wear glasses for reading. I can’t be a firefighter. I couldn’t pass the physical.

I also don’t expect to be given “extra points” for any of my “parts”, and I won’t use any of my “parts” as an excuse.

Arnold was disliked because he was a jerk. A narcissistic jerk. Not because he was gay.

Barack Obama is disliked for many reasons. Of course, there are probably a few who do indeed dislike him because he’s black. That’s their right, as it’s ours to criticize them for it. He’s also liked by people for many reasons. There are also many who like him because he’s black. It does work both ways.


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