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Friday, January 13, 2017

Obama's farewell speech heightened divisions rather than healed them

White voters in America aren't mostly underemployed, middle aged people who feel left behind, African-Americans aren't all oppressed, underprivileged victims who are the daily targets of racists, or angry activists blocking public thoroughfares, and Latino-Americans aren't mostly first generation immigrants, most of whom are in the country illegally.

The average white Trump voter makes substantially more than the US median income, most African-Americans are solidly entrenched in the middle class, and most Latinos have been in America for generations, immigrated legally and a substantial number of them voted for Donald Trump.

You'd never realize that from Barack Obama's farewell speech Tuesday night.

The growth and entrenchment of Identity Politics has been the most divisive element of western culture in the last eight years and Barack Obama has made the issue worse by reinforcing rather than debunking many stereotypes.

President Obama is one of the great political orators of his generation, and there was much good in his farewell speech. His telling Americans that they need to get out of their self-affirming bubbles is one of the most crucial things that needs to be heard at this juncture.

But Obama also reiterated the patchwork of distinct, boilerplate categories of cliched racial, religious and ethnic divisions that would be described as racist generalizations if anyone other than the 'post-racial' President uttered them.

The inculcation of those divisions has, during Obama's presidency, taken firmer root in education and government policy. It's destructive and divisive.

When Americans are encouraged to be Americans, and we see pigmentation and ethnicity as another facet that separates people from each other no more than hair color or taste in music, then thge nation will grow stronger.  The Book of Proverbs predicts what the sort of divisions Obama's America may reap: "He who troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind."

With an new presidency on the horizon, let's hope Americans can repudiate that prediction.

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