Obama, the current “problem” all Americans are forced to “live with,” felt it was as good a time as any to hang in a hallway outside the Oval Office Norman Rockwell’s “The Problem We All Live With” – a canvas that revives hurt rather than cultivates healing.
The President’s taste in artwork indicates that America’s “post-racial president” may be secretly nursing a deep-seated wound. It’s either that, or he’s uninterested in fostering unity. If that weren’t a distinct possibility, why didn’t he choose Norman Rockwell’s “Murder in Mississippi (Southern Justice),” which portrays the deaths of three civil rights workers, two of whom where white, killed for their efforts to register African American voters, or “Negro in the Suburbs,” which depicts black children interacting with the white children in their new neighborhood?
Mr. Obama could have requested any painting, but he chose the one that depicts “U.S. marshals escorting Ruby Bridges, a 6-year-old African-American girl, into a New Orleans elementary school in 1960 as court-ordered integration met with an angry and defiant response from the white community.”
The thrust of the painting is not subtle. America’s vilest racial epithet appears in letters several inches high at the top of the canvas. To the left side, the letters “KKK” are plainly visible. The crowds, mostly women who gathered daily to taunt Bridges as she went to a largely empty school, are not shown in the picture. But the racist graffiti and a splattered tomato convey the hostile atmosphere.
Rather than displaying a reminder of division and hatred, shouldn’t America’s first black president be focusing on the harmony that the historic nature of his presidency promised to deliver? Instead, his attraction to an artist’s rendition of one of the “ugliest racial episodes in U.S. history” indicates that the President of the United States may harbor a measure of latent acrimony.
Thus, Barack’s behavior has exposed yet another example of his duplicitous insincerity. Because when it comes to the “ugliest [religious] episode in U.S. history,” the President has been more than willing to extend the same level of forgiveness and understanding to Muslim Americans that hanging Norman Rockwell’s disquieting painting deprives white America.
Choosing to present such an explosive representation of prejudice toward blacks outside the office of an American president is on par with the message Muslim Americans might get if Obama displayed a painting of September 11th hijacker-pilot Mohammed Atta preparing to crash into the World Trade Towers.
Such an affront would never take place, because Obama is committed to placating and reassuring the Muslim community that he believes their religion is one of peace. In fact, a few weeks prior to the anniversary of 9-11, with the Ruby Bridges image and the vile “N” word emblazoned above her head hanging 20 feet away from the Oval Office, Barack Obama hosted an Iftar dinner in the State Dining Room extolling the efforts of valiant Muslims on September 11th.
Americans of every race, religion, and color were both victims and heroes on 9-11. For that reason, just prior to breaking the Ramadan fast, the President attempted to absolve the innocent of guilt by reminding his 100 dinner guests that “Muslim Americans were [the] first responders … the EMTs … the nurse who tended to so many victims, the naval officer at the Pentagon who rushed into the flames and pulled the injured to safety.”
Obama even cited the “brave service of our men and women in uniform, including thousands of Muslim Americans … [and] some [who] have made the ultimate sacrifice.”
The President’s efforts with the Muslim community are commendable. However, what is striking is that thus far Obama rarely, if ever, takes a similar opportunity to mention the contributions of white Union soldiers and abolitionists in the Civil War, or the civil rights activists who despised the treatment little Ruby Bridges was subjected to and died proving it.
Who else but America’s first black president should express admiration for the 2.5 million soldiers who fought and the 360,000 who lost their lives in a war to ensure little girls like Ruby would be free to attend school like other children?
Instead, without a word, when deciding whom to shield and not to shield from undeserved stereotypes, Obama demonstrates prejudice. The President may not realize it, but the unspoken message of choosing the volatile Norman Rockwell painting denies white Americans the same measure of differentiation between bravery and villainy that he freely showers upon adherents to Islam every chance he gets.
Had the Martin Luther King Memorial dedication not been postponed because of a hurricane, Barack Obama would have had a perfect opportunity to resist his self-serving urge to impress black constituents and publicly show gratitude to the many white champions of the civil rights movement. What more appropriate venue could there be for a president to again thank selfless advocates like Viola Gregg Liuzzo, Reverend Bruce Klunder, Andrew Goodman, and Michael H. Schwerner, just a few of the many martyred in the battle for racial equality?
Whatever the explanation, Obama has yet to formally acknowledge that the attitude of 21st century white America has as much connection with the racist brutes opposing integration in 1960 as that of the President’s Ramadan guests, whose faith he contends has no connection to those responsible for inspiring and carrying out the attacks on September 11th.