My Friend The F@cker

Happy Hallowe’en, Diwali and Eid Mubarak everyone. And thanks to the students of the Faculty of Health Sciences who graciously invited me to their big Hallowe’en bash last night. (I only stayed for an hour, so did not manage to jeopardize my career, for those of you who are curious.)

I also want to congratulate resident Deonandia villain Matthew “Darth” Vadum for his enormously popular segment on the Daily Show this past Thursday. If you watch it, you’ll understand today’s subject heading. Here’s the clip:

Now, Matt and I go back 25 years, but have have never agreed on anything political. Indeed, we have had more than one heated argument over things social, economic and political over the years, and have taken that opposition to our various blogs and online personas. Despite all that, I still consider him a good friend, and have watched with pride as he has risen the media ranks in the USA. So I will make no disparaging comments about his segment, even though the Interwebs are just ringing with discussion over it. Just Google “daily show vadum” and see all the hits! I will, however, offer a link to Matt’s response to some of the criticism he has received here.

Knowing Matt the way I do, I can assure you all that none of the criticism or any of the mean comments faze him in any way. So I’m sure he’ll enjoy your comments, as well.

What’s it all about? Why, Barack Obama, of course. If all goes as planned, Obama will be ordained as the first non-white President of the United States. Anything can happen in the next 48 hours, though, most notably an assassination attempt, at least one of which has already been foiled. But failing that possibility, Barack Obama will be the first Black man to hold the station of Abraham Lincoln, the President who is given historical credit for having made this all possible.

I don’t think the importance of this fact has been adequately portrayed in the mainstream media. Centuries of the legacy of slavery have finally led us to this momentous event, the ascension of a self-identified Black man (though he is actually biracial) to the highest office in the land, within one generation of segregation. It really does bring tears to my eyes. There was a story of an ancient Black grandmother who voted for the first time ever, at the age of 95, then collapsed in tears afterward. It seems that she never expected to live long enough to be able to vote for a Black President.

But why must it happen now, when the American star is in decline? As one writer put it, what America is electing now is a Janitor-in-Chief, to clean up the mess of the past 8 years. And as another person put, “Right when the thing is about to go under, they hand it over to the black man.”

Barack Obama, love him or hate him, is at least a man of his time, and it’s hard not to cheer for him because of it. He’s the son of an African immigrant and white American woman, who came together in love despite the social barriers of their time. He was raised in poverty, then taken to Indonesia to be raised by a Muslim Indonesian stepfather, gaining a biracial half-sister. Orphaned as a young man, he was then raised by his white American grandparents, again quite poor. By the force of his intellect and will alone, he garnered scholarships that permitted him to attend the finest schools in the world. And as an older brother, he took care of his orphaned sister, allowing her to earn a PhD and become a scholar at his level.

How dare the GOP depict this brave man, who lifted himself from hardship, as an “elite” simply because he embodied the American dream? If anything, he resembles the Randian Libertarian ideal of a man, whose strength of character and self belief transcended temporal barriers and marshaled the resources and opportunities around him. Unlike John McCain and George Bush, Barack Obama was not born into wealth, power and influence, nor did he marry into it. If anything, he was born into a world of barriers to wealth, power and influence –like many Black Americans– and yet overcame them all with grace and civility.

If/when he wins the election on Tuesday, a new chapter will open in the Book of America, and indeed in the Book of the World. What remains to be seen is whether this chapter will be one of pain or one of redemption.