Monday, February 25, 2008

Obama Photo: Reason to Fear?

I am not making an endorsement for any primary candidate. I am simply responding to the photo of Barack Obama in African garb. I do not understand the reason for sending out this photo. Is this supposed to frighten Americans? Is this supposed to make Americans fear Obama is not “American-enough?” If we fall for that, if we vote out of fear, than we should be ashamed. Vote for whoever you want to vote for because they have a record and a platform you believe in. Don’t vote one way or another because of this photograph.

I like the photo. We need bridges to the Islamic community. We need bridges to Africa. Here is a Christian, an active, church-going Christian with Muslim relatives. Here is a person who had a mother from Kansas, a father from Kenya (his grandmother is still in Kenya) and a step-father from Indonesia. Here is a person who lived in Hawaii, Indonesia, New York and Chicago.

This is a guy who can see subtleties and does not revert to black and white thinking. He graduated from Columbia University and Harvard Law School. He is a lecturer at the University of Chicago.

I hope the photograph does not frighten Americans because I think for a great deal of the world the photo is probably reassuring.

When we see Presidents with Indian headdresses on we do not assume they are members of the American Indian Movement. We recognize a photo-op when we see it and we know it honors the owners of the culture being highlighted.

So vote for whoever you want to vote for. Do not vote as a reaction to a photo.