Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Is Obama Safe?

I happened to stop by and see my folks this weekend as is usually my custom and it is amazing how the conversation has changed in the last month. Originally we discussed the remote possibility of Senator Obama getting elected, then whether his agenda included black issues and would whites vote for him, and now as he is continuing to win a much more ominous question is being discussed. I wish I could say these conversations were only limited to my parents, but unfortunately they aren’t. The question and concern starting to arise among many blacks in America and maybe worldwide is the safety of Barack Obama.

The questions started arising during a visit to Dallas when it was reported the security detail assigned to the Senator were stopped from using metal detectors and searching bags and purses at a rally held by the Senator in which about 17,000 people attended. According to published reports the order came from the Secret Service and was considered by many of the Dallas Police as a security breach. Of course the rally went off without any violence, but it still highlights a growing fear among blacks, especially older blacks concerning the safety of Senator Obama as he gets closer to possibly becoming President of the United States.

But concern about Obama's safety transcends racial lines. He has white supporters who see him as an inspiring, youthful advocate of change in the mold of Robert F. Kennedy, and they are mindful of Kennedy's assassination just two months after King's.

Obama received Secret Service protection last May - the earliest ever for any presidential candidate. At the time, federal officials said they were not aware of any direct threats to Obama, but Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin - who was among those recommending the Secret Service deployment - acknowledged receiving information, some with racial overtones, that made him concerned for Obama's safety.

Yvonne Scruggs-Leftwich, a former executive director of the Black Leadership Forum, noted that political leaders of any race face risks in a society where mass shootings and other violence by aggrieved or deranged assailants is all too common.[1]

It never fails whenever I go to the barbershop or a restaurant in my neighborhood the talk is about the possibility of harm coming to the Senator. Many times it is carried out in hushed tones as if the actual speaking of it out loud will in some eerie way cause it to happen, as if the forces that would choose to harm the Senator needed to hear the suggestion. It’s strange how the majority of concern is coming from older blacks and I wonder if that is because they have historical recollection of other former leaders being gunned down during a more restive period of our history. They have first hand knowledge of how the dreams and hopes of a people can be snuffed out in the blink of an eye.

Is Obama more at risk today than say political and social leaders of the past? Are the security forces better able and more willing to protect him? The truth of the matter is no one knows the minds and hearts of men. I do know that yes children there are things that go bump in the night, there are evil forces that lurk in this world. For us to deny them and hide under the bed may have worked as a child, but as the many shootings taking place in our society daily can attest we live in a very violent place. Are there people who are intimidated by the very real possibility of the first “real” black President? Of course there are. Would they be willing to prevent this through some act of violence? I think history has shown that this is a fact. I am glad to say though that I believe these people are in the minority. The reality though is simply this if anyone is willing to die in the process there is no one safe in this world that lives in the public eye.

The reason I don’t fear this scenario is not because I am na├»ve, on the contrary I am very aware of the evil that lies in men’s hearts, but I believe that if we allow our fears to prevent us from accomplishing our goals then we will never accomplish anything. I am a firm believer in fate and if it is meant for someone to die then nothing can prevent it. One thing is sure and that is no one leaves this world alive. Malcom X once said, “That if a man has not found anything he was willing to die for, then he wasn’t worth living.” Now is the time for this particular chapter to be played out in America and no one knows how it will end, but it must be played none the less.

I think Senator Obama has thought about and discussed these risks with his wife and family and come to the conclusion to trust fate and his belief in God. If God is who I believe Him to be, then whom shall I fear? There are those who have even suggested the insane notion of not voting for Obama to protect him from assassination. I believe this to be foolish and plays into the hands of those who would try to prevent his election. The men who rode around in hoods didn’t have to lynch and kill all the black men just enough to put fear in the others. The way we combat those forces of darkness is precisely by standing up and not cowering in fear. Is Obama safe? He is as safe as any one of us can be, his life is in the hands of God just like the rest of us.

[1] http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/O/OBAMA_SAFETY_FEARS?SITE=TXSAE&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2008-02-22-17-19-03

1 comment:

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