• Here’s What’s at Stake

    by Kelvin Wade

    “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” –Martin Luther King Jr.

    During a recent Republican town hall meeting in Oglethorpe County, Georgia a man stood up and asked Representative Paul Broun, “Who is going to shoot Obama?” Incredulously, Broun answered, “The thing is, I know there’s a lot of frustration with this president,” and went on to say he hoped Obama could be voted out of office and replaced with a conservative. What? That’s it?

    In light of the unprecedented vitriol aimed at this President ever since he assumed office and, for that matter, even before he was elected to office, as well as the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, the first word out of Broun’s mouth should’ve been, “Security!” Why couldn’t this representative take a strong stand against this outrageous question?

    After all, Presidential assassination is the elephant in the room. It’s what we fear in the back of our minds when we talk about the poisonous political climate. So how would this nation act in the aftermath of the first presidential assassination in 48 years? More specifically, how would we react in our present political climate to the assassination of America’s first black president? I think history provides us with sobering clues.

    Of course, the majority of the nation would be absolutely devastated and grief-stricken. At the same time, progressives would immediately take the Right Wing to task for the climate of hate fomented by irresponsible bloggers and some conservative radio talk show hosts. They would press their case against Fox News for helping fan the flames of animus against the President.

    For their part, some Right Wing critics won’t be able to contain themselves and will add fuel to the fire with intemperate defenses and ill-timed attacks on the President’s memory. An opposition that opposes everything the Obama Administration stands for down to the First Lady’s advocating healthy eating and breastfeeding, cannot be expected to be circumspect even in the aftermath of an assassination.

    But while this fierce argument will play out on talking head shows, editorial pages, blogs, classrooms and barstools, history tells us the nation will burn.

    While mind-numbing grief will roll across the country from sea to shining sea, rage will accompany it. Many African-Americans, incensed about losing the first black President, would take to the streets with Molotov cocktails and weapons as their voices.

    When Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968, riots broke out in over 100 cities. In Washington DC, 1,200 buildings burned, a dozen people were killed and other 1,000 injured. Over 6,000 people were arrested. In Baltimore, over 1,000 fires were set with over 4,000 people arrested. Chicago saw over 200 buildings burned.

    The potential for the rage to turn racial is great. One remembers the 1992 L.A. riots following the acquittal of the four police officers that beat Rodney King. Several rioters began assaulting white people at random, culminating in the sickening beating of trucker Reginald Denny. Many innocent people will lose their lives for no other reason than being in the wrong place at the wrong time as individuals’ grief and rage fuses into mob rule.

    Then there are those who would seize upon the occasion just to loot. The nation would see looting on a scale unheard of as law and order in the shadow of the death of a beloved President would completely break down.

    There would need to be domestic National Guard and military mobilizations on a scale not seen since the Civil War.

    Sadly, high profile conservatives would be in grave danger of “retaliation” by angry, misguided supporters of the President. Violence would beget violence.

    With all due respect to President Lincoln, because of the racial component, as well as the deep political divide in the country; a breach this severe could rupture the American spirit to such a degree that the mystic chords of memory won’t swell the chorus of the union because the better angels of our nature will be no more.

    That’s what’s at stake.

    • I don’t like to think about this. Hopefully, someone is following the guy who made that statement. I prefer to live in a world of hope and not try and predict the future in such a negative way. Sorry Kelvin but his one upsets me as I think it allows people to think of the worst scenario rather than the best. I am not ready to take off my rose colored glasses yet, although sometimes it becomes impossible to wear them for the whole day.

    • I campaigned for Obama, and I knew when he won they would have to put together the most kick ass secret service team ever. Call me naive but I believe his team would never let anything happen to him. I saw him speak this year at USC, and man…the security was intense. Sharp shooters on the roofs, undercover guys everywhere, metal detectors etc. His cars are bulletproof, too. Not to mention all of us who pray for his safety.

      One of the reasons I love President Obama so much is that he always rises above the hate. He never takes the bait. I believe he will be safe, will have a second term, and will be remembered as one of the best Presidents in US history.

        • Kelvin

        • March 8, 2011 at 4:46 pm
        • Reply

        I’ve got nothing but respect for the people who protect the President. That’s a tough, stressful job to have. They have to be perfect all the time. And remember that people did crash a White House dinner and met with the President. I pray he stays safe.

      • Jesse

      • March 6, 2011 at 12:59 pm
      • Reply

      This is poignant and sad reading. My mind only adds that in the Wake of Lincoln’s assassination, a weak president was elected. In other words, I think the Koch brothers and the like would rejoice and try to pass as many policies as possible to undermine fairness and equality, and strengthen rights for corporate greed.

      • Jesse

      • March 6, 2011 at 1:00 pm
      • Reply

      PS Great writing, the topic is just sad.

      • admin

      • March 6, 2011 at 4:05 pm
      • Reply

      Beautifully stated Kelvin. Those politicians who remain silent when such rhetoric is spoken are to me just as guilty as anyone who would dare to pull the trigger. The non-response by those in power only serves to encourage the sick minds of extremists.

    • It is a bold topic, and about time someone took a serious look at the flippant rhetoric that’s tossed around.

    • No one is held accountable for anything in today’s politics. When John Q. Public has had enough bullshit there will be violence. I’m sorry to say that it has been so, all through recorded history. I too am an Obama fan, and I expect great things from him. It is also true that from day one I have worried about some jerk with visions of grandure taking a pot shot at him. Heaven forbid. I’ve said before, it took the right man to do exactly the right thing at exactly the right moment to carpe aeterni tatem.

      • Kelvin

      • March 8, 2011 at 4:43 pm
      • Reply

      Thank you. Yes, it’s a grim topic. It’s something I’ve discussed often with my younger brother. So I wanted to analyze what I think would transpire if that dark day ever occurred. I don’t know if it’s something the nation would recover from. It was hard to write because I know it’s not something people want to talk about. But I also know it’s the elephant in the room when people are talking about deep political divisions, vitriol, threats and carrying guns at rallies. I hope and pray the President stays safe.

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