Stuff I Found

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Historicalness of the Inauguration

This is something I found in my thoughts... it's been bugging me throughout the day...

I have a heard so much about how historic this day is, how meaningful and special it is to so many people. I'm finding myself a bit confused. Why is it special? What makes it more historical than any other presidential inauguration? I guess the answer is obvious, it has to do with skin color and the history of a certain social status, right? And this is perceived as an achievement?

It makes me cringe a bit because I think it'd be so much more special if it wasn't so special. Does that make any sense? This shouldn't be an unbelievable event. Why in the world did some people think it was? Wouldn't it be more amazing if nobody noticed or cared about skin color? Isn't that what we want, not to notice? Or do you believe that can never really be achieved, so this is the next best thing? Are people fighting for equality, or just fighting for its appearance? Can people tell the difference?

A lot of people are remembering Martin Luther King, Jr. today and his "I Have a Dream" speech. It annoys me because ... NO! This was not his dream! His dream was about what I mentioned earlier, about people not caring about skin color, about people treating each other as equals, about "do unto others as you would have them to do you". That's not something that suddenly proves itself on a certain date in history, that's not something achieved by any one individual, and that's certainly not something that has to do with politics. It's something people don't notice and take for granted until they one day look back and say "oh, look, I'm living the dream!"

So, hopefully this doesn't sound really cynical, but this day doesn't prove anything. And rightly so, there shouldn't be anything to prove, there shouldn't be anything to compensate for. But with the kind of attention the day seems to be getting, with what this day seems to mean to some people, I'm kind of saddened, because it seems like some people do believe that something has been proven. It's sad because true equality isn't something that can be "proven", and I'd be a bit worried if a lot of people believed we've achieved something that perhaps we haven't yet.

But at least there's a lot of happiness... is that the important thing?

I don't think so, but oh well! :-)


  • I'd have to agree. However, what's the opposite of making a big fuss? Not saying anything at all besides the usual presidential inauguration? That'd be somewhat less than honest.

    I mean, that there was (and is) a problem: that many people in the U.S. are racist; although flouting a black president in their face doesn't help, neither does saying "Yeah, yeah. It's commonplace," when it's not. There must be a middle ground; I can't think of one that could be made publicly, though.

    (Sorry if this comment ends up posted twice. Firefox froze halfway through the first submission.)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:05 AM  

  • Yes, very good point! It would be misleading, and perhaps dishonest, to just not say anything at all. I suppose a middle-ground would be to still mention the fact (everyone can see it anyway), but not belabor the point. I guess even what I say is arguable because it depends on how the messages of the media are being perceived. To me, they just seem to be making too much of a point about race to the point where it seems racist itself, if that makes sense, as if what has happened should've been impossible. The middle-ground wouldn't ignore the fact completely either though; I suppose it's just a matter of "how much is too much?"

    When the first woman becomes president, which may certainly happen some time in the 50 years at least, the media won't ignore that it's the first woman. But somehow I think it won't be as big of a deal, and perhaps they'll reach the middle-ground there. There are still certainly some sexist people in this country, but I don't think the problem is quite as great.

    By Blogger Sean Hannifin, at 9:42 AM  

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