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Growing up in Bedford County, I remember many positive and pleasant experiences. I also remember the vicious racism of the great majority of white people around me.
I didn’t know who Martin Luther King Jr. was; but I knew that every white person who talked about him hated him. I can proudly say, though, that my own parents were not among those people.
Many years later, in 2012, the descendants of those people still reside here and in many other pockets of America. Racism is not inherited; it is taught. Former president Jimmy Carter, from Georgia, surely knows the South as well as anyone else, and he was among the first to speak the truth about the racist opposition to Barack Hussein Obama.
You can deny it if you wish. But it won’t change reality. When a man in Catawba, near Roanoke County, puts out a puppet of Obama dressed as a monkey, what do you think that means?
When even John Sununu, a former member of the first George Bush’s staff, says Colin Powell only endorses Obama because of their common race, what do you think that means?
When “tea party” types hold posters of Obama that say “Go back to Kenya,” what do you think that means?
It’s very simple. Much of the opposition to Barack Obama is and always has been racist.
Another powerful source of opposition to Obama, in recent television ads at least, is the National Rifle Association, an organization that lies with every breath it takes.
In the last few weeks, the NRA has been running ads that claim Obama is “attacking our Second Amendment Rights.” But what legislation can the NRA identify to support that claim? None. Because this president has not introduced one bill that would restrict gun rights in any way. The NRA is again doing what it does best: lying, pure and simple.
The Affordable Care Act – known by its critics as the diabolical “Obamacare” - has been subjected to a demonization campaign not seen since the Salem Witch Trials. We are told that the American people greatly oppose it.
When it’s presented as a “government takeover,” which it’s not, yes, most people oppose that. But when you ask Americans if they support allowing youth to stay on their parents’ insurance plan until age 26, majorities agree.
When you ask people if they think insurance companies should be forbidden from using “pre-existing conditions” to deny coverage, most people support that. When you ask if seniors ought to receive discounts on prescription coverage, most people agree.
So, what will you believe about “Obamacare?” Right-wing distortions and lies, or the truth that is easily found?
It used to be that “voting your pocketbook” was a reliable guide to what most people did. Then the religious right came along and said, no, abortion and homosexuality is what you should be voting about.
Yet, many more Americans believe it’s best to stay out of people’s private lives and vote for your economic interests.
One candidate in this election – whose party has been fighting for working people since the days of Andrew Jackson – has helped to create about five million jobs, and seen us through a great recession caused by the policies and the greed of the other party.
The other candidate would return us to those same policies – tax cuts for the rich, inappropriate deregulation, corporate welfare, and ever-increasing, wasteful military spending.
One candidate has contemptuously dismissed “47 percent” of the population and basically called them worthless. The other candidate says it’s his job to work for everyone.
If you want to make the smartest decision, I ask you, what else do you need to know?
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Rick Howell, a Bedford native, can be reached by e-mail at NewCenHowell@aol.com.