At first I was puzzled by the spectacle of people rejecting public policy that would benefit them, and I didn’t know how to explain that to my grandsons. Then I remembered the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama that killed three contemporaries of ex-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and I realized that I had temporarily forgotten how blinding racial hatred is. A good many of the anti-Obama whites are going through a very difficult cultural change in American society. Power-sharing pluralism is an infant phenomenon in America and the least educated and a good many Southern born whites, for the most part, are having a bad time making the adjustment. They are, for the moment, lost in racial animosity. So there will be a decade or so of irrational behavior from this sub-set of American culture – but they will fit in after that. I also intend to send each of my grandchildren, when they are ready intellectually, a copy of Professor Harry G. Frankfurt’s book On Bullshit to guide them through the contemporary political dialogue of their times.
I tell my 8- and 10-year-old granddaughters who are also cousins that they are in a generation who will grow into lives of total equality with their white contemporaries. I tell them that the disrespect they see some whites hurling at the first black president is because many of them feel insecure about the changes the country is going through. I tell them that this contempt for the presidency is an aberration that will lessen as the newness of the experience eases. I tell them that black people feel the euphoria of inclusion of one our own at the top leadership position in the country, but for many white people it’s hard to accept the end of their supremacy in governance. I tell them that the South has a heart that is two sizes too small, but in time as they grow accustomed to racial diversity and power-sharing, the South’s heart will grow to near normal size and civility will come for the first time to the modern South. I tell them that the congressman who shouted at the president is the weakest piglet in the litter, a rude cad and a throwback to the Jim Crow times and I explain to them what the Jim Crow times were.