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President Obama, his critics, Facebook & troubles galore

30 September, 2009

I was shocked, embarrassed and then chilled to read of the story of someone or some group placing a poll on Facebook concerning President Obama and asking people to vote whether he should be assassinated.  Perhaps it was all some big joke?  The humour is lost on me!

I was shocked, because it could easily be a contravention of a Federal law; embarrassed because living here in the UK I’m asked by British friends why such and such takes place in the American political scene (but how in the world would I ever know?!); and chilled to think of the poisonous rhetoric coming out of quarters in the US.  I’ve lost count of how many friends on Facebook now refer to Obama as ‘socialist’ or ‘out to destroy our country’ and ‘leading an administration that hates the military’ or ‘trying to brain wash US school children’.  What is happening?

Whatever happened to sane public discourse?  Of course one can disagree and disagree strongly with elected politicians, including the President!  Disagreement and debate (even heated debate) are cherished privileges enshrined in the founding documents of the US.  But the present vitriol and diatribes coming out is disproportionate.

Thomas Friedman, writing in the New York Times (which, OK, many of my US friends will write off as part of the liberal media monster) clearly states the nightmare scenario seemingly developing before us.

See \”Where Did \’We\” Go?\”

  1. tomstan permalink

    The way people are reacting about the healthcare reforms is quite full on. Those against Obama are supposed conservatives yet they have taken on the campaigning methods of the ‘leftist/radicals’ that the conservatives would have despised in the past.
    I read this is as an observation by US commentator but now can’t remember where. Sometimes their behaviour reminds me anarchist groups just wanting to disrupt and cause problems rather as you say go for ‘sane public discourse’.
    And I guess it doesn’t take much for a vulnerable peron to take this to the extreme.

  2. laurenlarkin permalink

    Gavin, I really appreciate this post. I, for one, am completely uncomfortable with the current critical environment occurring about Obama; JUST as I was the past 8 years when the tables were turned and Bush was in office…

    • gavinmcgrath permalink

      Yes, Lauren, you are entirely correct: during the Bush years there were shrill voices coming from the ‘other side’. These criticisms and challenges (whatever their initial merit may or may not have been) were eventually compromised by the strident, hostile and ad hominem expressions. In my posting I did not ever intend to suggest that Obama’s critics are bad people while Bush’s critics were ‘intelligent and thoughtful’. Friedman certainly does not make this claim. Equally, I am not for a minute suggesting that Obama and his administration are without fault!

  3. annamoyle permalink

    Yes, I was going to leave the same comment as Lauren did. It is important not to have short memories here. The pastor who prayed for Obama to get a brain tumour recently is a sick man; however, so is Jeremiah Wright in my mind.

    Tom, I think that the commentary you were thinking of was by David Brooks, in response to Jimmy Carter’s idea that behind all this vitriol towards Obama is racism. You can find it here, it is really excellent and takes the long view about populism/anarchism in American history, which Carter was lacking:

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