The day after the Arab protests and attacks at the US Embassies I overheard several guys in the locker room at my gym complaining about Obama’s weak response to the attacks.
“Those Arabs only listen to strength; you can’t apologize, talk or reason with them, they only respond to might.”
I know better than to talk politics or religion in such settings, but it was difficult to hold my tongue, these guys were spewing emotional feelings based on spurious facts.
Each day since the attacks we have learned new information about them. This is one reason why in election years, it’s considered bad form for candidates to publicly question a president’s response—rarely are all the facts available to the public.
But that hadn’t stopped Romney from commenting, or these guys in the locker room.
I couldn’t hold myself back. “Obama has been much more hawkish than many of his supporters wanted,” I said. “His foreign policy is so strong, Republicans didn’t even mention the war at their convention.”
One of the guys shook his head dismissively. “Obama wouldn’t even have gotten elected if he wasn’t a black man.”
The other guys said, “He’s not that smart.”
Then his buddy added, “He’s lazy too.”
“I can’t believe what I’m hearing,” I said. “You guys are making racists comments and you don’t even recognize it. You want to debate policy, fine, but these comments aren’t even worth responding too.”
“We’re not racists, we’re just talking the truth.”
Anger boiled up inside. I was disgusted knowing that it didn’t matter what I said, these guys would never change their view. I could have made a real scene, but there was no point. I packed up my bag and walked out.
We need healthy debate on the issues, but to say the president isn’t smart, or he’s lazy, that’s not debate, it’s what the extreme ends of both parties want to keep us focused on rather than the nuance of one party’s view of taxation, regulation and diplomacy versus the other.
It’s up to the moderates in both parties to make sure that those at the far right and left don’t hijack the country into paralysis with their innuendo and falsehoods.
Next time I see those jokers, I’m going to set them straight.