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Disillusion Paralyzes Us

Like in life, hope should be based on reality. Unlike "W" and the Scarecrow, Obama at least has a brain

By Dr. Rudolfo Acuña
Published on LatinoLA: January 4, 2009


Disillusion Paralyzes Us


By Rodolfo F. Acuña

Criticisms of Barack Obama's appointments from the left are beginning to mount. It is not surprising since the left has a history of getting caught up in illusions – it loves to fall in love. The reality is that while it criticizes America, the left lives under the illusion that the country will change. Like a battered wife, its members are delusional.

Most of us knew or should have known that Obama was not going to radically change the country. The story of Obama winning the presidency of the Harvard Law Review with the support of African American and progressive law students offers a clue to his predilection. When he won, Obama only supported one black law student and incredibly three members of the Federalist Society to the board of editors of the review.

Despite this I voted for Obama, largely because of the lesson of 2000 when I voted for a dead man of neither party, and experienced eight years of George W. Bush,. Another reasons is the question of identity that is so important to minorities in this country. I believe that black children deserve a role model as do white Americans who cynically believe that color has something to do with intelligence. I am not cynical enough to dismiss the importance of identity for others.

Before our criticism become an obsession, we should remember that obsessive criticism more often paralyzes the process so the bottom falls out and we end up with a Bush.

With this said I believe that reasoned criticism is essential. We all let far too many misstatements and myths pass during the election cycle. After eight years of criminality, we did not want to upset the apple cart.

But now the time has come for reflection. In our delusionary quest for change, we should not let the myths of American exceptionalism go unchallenged.

For starters, while we can criticize Bill Ayers for arguably infantile behavior – i.e., the conditions were not ripe for revolution – he was nevertheless right about the Vietnam War. His passion was real and perhaps the result of a feeling that the country had betrayed its ideals.

No less than Robert Kennedy, Clark Clifford, Martin Luther King, César Chávez and Robert McNamara said that the nation was wrong and that right-minded people should be critical of an aggression that killed four million civilians and cost the United States almost 60,000 lives. We
were the aggressors; our leaders could and should have been tried as war criminals.

During the presidential debates John McCain and Obama praised community service for youth. Obama went so far as to say that military service should be counted as community service. This is ridiculous! It perverts the spirit of volunteerism. Furthermore, who would end up in the military?

Our troops have no business in the Middle East. As with Vietnam, we are the aggressors.

Depending on who one believes, there have been about 700,000 Iraqi deaths and over 4,000 Americans killed in a war where again we are the aggressors. The tragedy is that once more the myth is becoming history.

I am not minimizing the killing of civilians on 9/11; however, we are not justified in taking the law into our own hands. In a world where we are held together by laws, we do not have the right to kill the perpetrator of a crime against our family, and in the process kill his family and his neighbors. The United States is not the police force of the world, and if it takes the law into its own hands so should Pakistan, Indian, and others be able to.

The pundits were wrong in distorting the definition of Liberation Theology in their smearing of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Again, the myths went unchallenged. The truth be told, Liberation Theology represents the best in the Catholic Church and returned to the roots of the bible where members of the community were the sisters' and brothers' keepers. It was killed in Latin America by the ruling elite, the CIA and the Pope. The Rev. Wright like Ayers became a scapegoat for the past sins of the country.

We can debate which was worse 9/11 or over two hundred years of slavery? Perhaps in the search for the truth we can understand Wright's obsession with building a community as well as his and Martin Luther King's anger at the history of the United States.

There is a cause and effect for everything that happens. The one positive thing about the presidential campaign is that the immigration issue was not terribly exploited – although there were terrible misstatements without any attempt to correct them. The negativity of a majority of Americans paralyzed the candidates both in the primaries and the runoff.

I saw a movie the other day about global warming and the icing of the United States with its citizens fleeing across the border to survive. The viewers empathized with the plight of the Americans.

Like disasters occurred in 1836 and 1848 with the taking of fifty-five percent of Mexican Territory. People are moving today in search of food, shelter and clothing partially because of those invasions. It is called survival. However, the myth is that Mexicans and other Latin Americans are coming here to take something from hard working Americans.

Immigrants in this scenario become invaders and ingrates since they should be honored to live next to God's Chosen People (Manifest Destiny).

During the next eight years, we must criticize but we also have to educate people about the past. The United States has been a bad neighbor. As with Vietnam and Iraq we have invaded Latin American countries, and in most cases supported dictatorships. Today our drug market is corrupting the core of Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. We must understand why the US is not an uncle to the poor of Latin America.

The challenge now is not to become delusional – we should have never had illusions. Patriotism goes beyond wearing a flag pin; it is being a good neighbor. Like in life, hope should be based on reality. Unlike "W" and the Scarecrow, Obama at least has a brain.

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