By JERRY JACOBSEN
December 24, 2012
Once again this year, as a supporter of their 2008 campaign, I was pleased to find in my mailbox last week a holiday card from the Obamas at the White House. A beautiful painting of the “First Dog” Bo on a walk through snow flurries, knee deep in front of the official residence of the First Family. I read an ABC News story by Sarah Parnass posted online by Yahoo that gave the background of the genesis of the card, and was duly impressed…
Michelle Obama herself selected artist Larassa Kabel’s submission as this year’s holiday greeting to represent an American Artist’s demonstration of the officialHolidaygreeting, and most in our nation have been delighted with her creative offering. Larassa’s rendering and her creative process moved me to post a comment to the story:
“As a supporter, I got one [of the cards] with the signatures of the First Family and Bo’s little footprint… and it is now right smack in the middle of my refrigerator! Great job…didn’t know the story of this wonderful artist.”
Little did I know that my comment would elicit such immediate negative comments from online posters as below:
Kittykat: Please, please let your house burn down tonight with you and the Muslim’s card in it.
And from Jeffrey:…bet your fridge is full of food stamp food too u fat, lazy slob [sic]
I was not only shocked by such responses, but was also surprised that my relatively benign posting would drive such negative and aggressive reactions.
Alarmed and completely taken aback, I replied to their text (after reporting these two to the administrators of the Yahoo boards for their threatening posts toward me as a commentator on their board) :
I am not a Muslim, but a Christian (son of a Baptist minister). Not that that matters… I am not fat, nor poor or lazy…hardworking and make very good wage. And you both are reported…sad racists….
I will spare you the venomous darts that ensued. Let’s just say it wasn’t pretty.
As an ardent supporter of First Amendment protections provided these dear brothers and sisters, and their constitutional right to demonstrate their expressions about my personal communication, I still have to wonder about the state of ourUnion.
Are we so free that we must tolerate the hatred of others who do not share our love for this country and the very institutions that comprise its leadership? Can we not all “get along” in our post-election life that is ours as we move into the next four years of our existence? Or will we be a nation divided, and one that sees a disappointed minority – (yes, Obama did WIN the election) – that is so filled with hatred that it seeks secede from the nation?
Then the unspeakable carnage that visited our United States came last week, and I had to ask that question again…
Must we tolerate this hatred, or can we all use our freedom of expression to find common ground and weed out the hatred that only serves to further divide us. As I wrote in my previous column, a house divided against itself cannot stand. The question is, will our house stand up for freedom, or will it fall? We MUST protect the ability for others to express their beliefs. But I believe we must use this freedom to weed out hate-filled rhetoric and shame them out of our existence. That is why we are free.
There is clearly a lot on my mind with regard to issues related to our country’s diversity. Indeed, there are enough ideas and thoughts for me to fill a column each week – to describe these issues and say what I feel about them. And that is precisely what I’ll do… unfettered (well there IS an editor-in-chief!).
I invite you to read what I have to say, agree or disagree with me, and post your thoughts in the comment section below. Who knows, maybe we’ll actually have some intelligent discourse on these issues and make some real progress. Maybe I will convince you of some things, and, (Lord forbid!) maybe you’ll convince me that I need to rethink a few of my own.
But at least honest dialogue will be opened up on the matters of diversity, tolerance and inclusion. Given the sharp, and frankly nasty words and ideas exchanged during this past election cycle, it is more apparent to me than ever that we need it.
Even here inLos Angeles.