A Conversation With President Obama: Part 3 of 4

Obama_with_watch_560Obama  seemed quite relaxed. He was talking to someone in a way he probably rarely has a chance to do anymore. I imagined most of the time he has to be quite guarded in the words he says but with me he could say what he felt. He knew that my reach was very limited and probably understand I had no intention of making a big deal out of anything he said.

He then went on: “You understand, I assume, this superior race idea of the Anglo-Saxon was carried on beyond the shores of America.”

Without knowing exactly what he referred to I said: “Absolutely. It was picked up by the Nazis. It formed the basis for their attempt to eradicate the Jews and enslave the Slavs and others who were not part of the Aryan race. It is behind all genocides where one group feels superior to others; it was also here when we had slavery and the Jim Crow laws, the latter also being a form of genocide — rather than murdering it was taking a life by neglect.”

“Go on,” Obama said.

“I believe —  more so as I aged and have had time for more study and thought — that these laws that kept blacks in America entrapped in ignorance deprived our country of a wealth of talent — who knew what gems of genius could have come out of those millions of blacks who were deprived of an opportunity to be educated and add to our national well-being. We have seen that some of the poorest whites who lived in places like the Lower East Side when provided open freedom of association and the education in public schools greatly enabled our society to advance. Keeping others down because of differences deprives all of us of the benefits some of them could give us if made as truly free as others.”

“That’s an unusual argument against racism,” he said. “It’s sort of selfish argument. You are saying racism is bad because it deprives a nation of its best talent and the nation not being given it rightful due hurts you as a member of that nation.”

Pretty much,”  I agreed, “I like to look at what America would be had one particular group of the lesser people, as the Anglo-Saxon conceived them to be, had been excluded from our shores and how much lesser of a nation we would be.”

He said: “For one thing we would have none of the present members of the Supreme Court sitting on it.”

He was right. There were no Anglo-Saxons on the court. There were only Catholics and Jews. Until the mid 1900s that court had been a pillar in holding up the Anglo-Saxon supremacy.

He went on, “But we’ve moved too far away from the original subject. You said it was my attitude toward war that most people you were in contact with objected to. I have to admit it is different from others. I think it is because of who I am. I’m not cut from the same cloth as the prior presidents. I look at the world through colored eyes. I look at the world knowing my father was a Muslim and a good man. It is only natural my perspective Marine Hymn  would be different. I do not know if all of the people who voted for me understood that would be the case. Probably not. I certainly did not emphasize it but I do see the world differently than other presidents have seen it.”

He was now talking as if I was not there as if he was getting something out that had long festered inside of him.

“I see you were in the Marines — you know the Marine Hymn — did you ever pause to consider the implications of the first line “From the Halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli.” Who were the people who America was fighting. Do you understand that it was Mexicans in the first instance and Barbary pirates in the second, all people of color.”

I said I was quite familiar with the line and especially the derring-do of Marine Lieutenant Presley O’Bannon having worn a Marmaluke sword which commemorates his victory at Tripoli where he was the first person to raise an American flag over foreign soil during a war.

Obama nodded. He asked, “Do you understand that almost all of America’s wars have been against people of color – especially Catholics and Muslims.”

I didn’t think that applied to WWI and WWII and told him that. He said: “World war two started after an attack by Japan — but warring against it was just part of that. That’s why I said “almost” since the world wars were different from the others.But outside of that, all our wars have been against people of color.”


8 thoughts on “A Conversation With President Obama: Part 3 of 4

  1. NC is correct. We fought the French in French-Indian Wars, Brits in the Revolution and the War of 1812 ( and in both we invaded Canada), we fought ourselves in the Civil War of 1861-65. We fought Germans in WW I and Germans and Italians in WW II; Russians were our allies in WWII but we vied with Russians throughout the Cold War. Throughout our history, we fought mostly against Europeans. Non-Europeans included Indians since the Pilgrims landed but Indians fought alongside us and for us throughout our history. We fought Mexicans in 1846-48 and peoples of Spanish descent in the Spanish-American War and Philippine Insurrection in 1901. We fought Japan in WWII, but China was our ally in WWII. We fought Vietnamese in Vietnam but Vietnamese fought with us and alongside us there too. We fought North Koreans but South Koreans fought on our side. In every war in the Middle East, Middle Eastern people fought with us, too. Simplistic redundancies won’t do.

    1. Bill:

      NC is wrong as usual. Wars fought on our soil are not the type of wars Obama was talking about. The World Wars were cats of a different color. We never went to war with Russia; the cold war does not count. It is the wars of choice that Obama was talking about. It is there that we like to bomb the people of color. Our history up until WWII we did fight against European nations for the most part. We fought against the Filipinos in 1898 in order to take over their country; the Spanish fleet was destroyed in a day as it sat in the harbor and Admiral Dewey became a great hero but we double-crossed the Filipino people and engaged in a scorched earth campaign against them so that we could take over their country and Christianize them and use it for a trading port.

      Sure their were some Vietnamese on our side just as there are Iraqis, Afghanis, Syrians, and the like. When we go to war with Iran we’ll be able to line up a few Iranians but that means little. There are always guys who will go with the other side against their own people. These are not simple redundancies but painful facts that Obama recognized. It is a sad tale of our history.

      1. Matt, the Spanish-American War involved Spain, which is “white” European, as is Italy and Greece. We fought against Italy and Germany in WWII, and Greece was an ally. We liberated brown people in the Philippines in WWII, and Chinese and Southeast Asian peoples in WWII. We fought in Vietnam to save Vietnamese from Communists. We liberated South Koreans during the Korean War against Communist invaders from the North. We bombed Serbians for 90 days to protect Muslims in Kosovo in 1990s. In 1990s we attacked invading Iraqi forces to save Kuwaitis. A better case can be made that throughout its history, America fought to liberate Asian people and people of color from invaders, aggressors and oppressors.
        Remember, too, after the Russian Revolution, the U.S. had soldiers in Russia, along with the Brits, Czechs and others, fighting on behalf of the Whites against the Reds.
        So, Matt, I can cite many non-European people the Americans have liberated—-Chinese, Philippino, Pacific Islanders, Singaporeans, Indonesians, Borneans, South East Asians, Koreans, Kuwaiti, Kosovar, Grenadians—and I can cite many European people the Americans have fought against: Spanish, Germans, Austrians, Italians, Serbs, and Russians, and very early in our history we fought the British (Revolution and 1812) and French(French-Indian Wars.)
        Anti-American cant can’t change the facts.

  2. The Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 were fought against the Brits. Are they people of color? Are the Germans during the two World Wars? Are the Russians during the Cold War? BHO seems to have a confused view of history. He must have been a Globe reader when he attended Harvard.

    1. NC:

      There are wars and there are wars. Wars to defend our country are one thing; wars for other reasons are another.

      The Revolutionary war can hardly be considered as part of the matter since it was fought to gain our independence; so the war of 1812 was on our soil as was the Civil War. If you are attacked you cannot choose your enemy. It is when you decide to attack someone that we get into the idea of wars of choice. WWI and WWII – we did fight against the Germans but those were hardly wars of choice; nor was the Korean war which was prompted by a dire situation. We did not get into a shooting war with the Russians; but BHO was absolutely right that on all the wars we engaged in where we had a choice it was against people of color.

    1. Rather:

      Poor Marty – he doesn’t see the game that is going on around him. For too long he has been trying to please the Globe but he should have known that would not work.

      1. True, but what was the better alternative?
        Alienate Morrissey Blvd (=Carmen, Fred) from the beginning and a have a certain rough road or suck up to them hoping they won’t turn on you (probably knowing deep down that they would) because at least there was a chance…?

        What should he have done differently?
        Didn’t see the game? Was he not savvy? street-smart? A Dorchester kid. A Union laborer from Savin Hill. Really?

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