Posted by: brian | January 31, 2009

Did I mention

that my parents iscanbe inSANE?

Here’s what my mother says about our new President: He looks evil. In certain pictures. She protests (perhaps too much) that it’s not because he’s black. Because, you know, their UPS guy is “chocolate” (her word) (yes, really), and he’s very nice, and she likes him just fine, so therefore she is most certainly not a racist. I don’t think she IS racist – or at least, she’s as un-racist as she could be, given her experience & such. Which is to say, not overtly racist, but, like everyone in the small town where I grew up, her experience with non-whites is almost non-existent. So she does harbor attitudes toward particular groups of people (as we all do; I’m certainly not immune from this), but she judges each individual on their own merits. This sort of stereotyping is typical of people in general. It’s why, when you hear the name Vinnie, you have a certain image in your mind. The name Cletus summons forth a different image, as do Lakeisha, Juan, and Salvatore.

I can’t really speak to where her feeling that Obama looks evil comes from. And that’s fine. It’s a superstitious suspicion, and I’ll leave it at that. But here’s the thing: As support for the fact that he must be evil, since he looks evil, she states that others have said they feel the same way – people from all types of different backgrounds, apparently. I didn’t press the subject, because it seemed pointless, but I’d be curious to get demographic data on these people – age, sex, political & religious affiliations, marital status, education level, income and occupation to name a few. But what was most odd, I thought, was the implication that, because some other people feel the same way, this is an accurate assessment of Obama’s character.

I asked her, suppose that 20% of the population has this gut feeling that Obama is evil, another 20% has the opposite feeling, and 60% has no strong feeling either way. Mind you, this is based solely on how he looks. So who’s right? Obviously someone is wrong, but who? How do we solve this conundrum? Is he evil, or not? Or is he just a man, capable of doing good and bad, right and wrong? How do we solve this? Could we, perhaps, base our judgement on his actions rather than on some arbitrary “gut feeling”?

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