Friday, November 07, 2008

Obama's Victory Stirs Disturbing Suburban Resentment

The tectonic shift that occurred on Tuesday night is reverberating across our nation and in countries around the world.

Last night C-Span ran clips of various news broadcasts from around the world and the same energy that has fueled such inspiration and hope in towns and cities in every corner of America was also palpable in countries like India, Germany, Japan and so much so in Kenya that a November 5th national holiday was declared for the country's students and workers.

But the reality is that not everyone shares that sense of jubilation. There is also an unquestionable sense of fear and resentment simmering throughout members of the US populace. And there is anger.

The shift that immediately altered the cultural landscape of our nation has unsettled many people uncomfortable with the impending changes that will inevitably occur in our perceptions of race, culture and indeed history.

The rain and humidity in New York has been brutal for the past couple days so I immediately clicked on WCBS radio to get the weather before I left for work this morning; but it wasn't the weather that made me stop and listen.

It was the story of 51 year-old Gary Grewal of Hardwick Township, Warren County, New Jersey. As he left his home to take his daughter to work at 7:30am the day after the election, Grewal, who is of Indian descent, discovered the homemade cloth banner his wife Anlina had put up in front of their home to congratulate Obama on his victory was draped across the ugly remnants of a burned cross.

The New Jersey Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations condemned the attack as a hate crime. I'm not sure how much, if any national coverage it generated but the story was covered by the Philadelphia Inquirer and other local news outlets. I would imagine the story will be picked up by AP but I didn't see any mention of it on either the NBC or ABC network news broadcasts.

The Staten Island Advance Website reported that officials from the Washington, DC-based CAIR also called on the FBI to launch an investigation into a Staten Island, New York attack on a 17 year-old African-American boy named Ali Kamara. Reporter John Annese wrote that Kamara was walking home on the night of the election when a car pulled up and four white males inside yelled "Obama!" at him before jumping out and beating him bad enough that he was taken to a hospital to have stitches to repair a laceration on his skull.

It is critical that law enforcement address these incidents as we aren't talking about the expression of 1st Amendment rights, these are mindless acts of violence and intimidation.

We will never move forward as a nation until we examine the deeper psychological meaning behind the fear and anger that drive people to attack innocent people for exercising their Constitutional right to vote. If anything, this election has made clear that the days of driving people of color away from the polls by using intimidation and physical force are over, but without question we see all too clear that within our nation we have citizens living in a past that will never return.

Checking the temperature: It's 2008, and people are still burning crosses.


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