***with apologies to Michael Jackson
(10 points if you can remember which MJ song this line is from)
Barack Obama's victory is being trumpeted this morning as a political achievement of historic proportions: First Black President of the United States! (although Ilana Davita correctly points out that he is actually bi-racial). While I fully appreciate the historical magnitude of this moment, I wonder- is this the beginning of the end of identity politics in the US? Obama was elected by a wide spectrum of voters: black, white, Asian, Hispanic, male, female, gay, straight, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, young, old... His support cut across racial and cultural lines that many people were afraid to cross in past elections. I think that this campaign represented a long overdue catharsis in American society. Perhaps Americans are finally ready to move beyond choosing leaders that look the way we look. Maybe we are now ready to choose leaders that think the way we think.
I would also like to note how thoroughly disgusted I am with the unabashed racism that so many Orthodox Jews displayed during this campaign. My older daughter came home from school yesterday frightened out of her wits because her classmates were saying that Barack Obama is a Muslim Arab who wants to kill Jews and will help Iran destroy Israel, and that if he is elected, we had better leave the country fast before he gets us. These 12 year old girls did not come up with this drivel on their own. They are parroting what they heard at home, and these statements mirror what so many others in the frum community have been saying for months. Rational people are entitled to differ on their political opinions, providing they do so rationally. But this kind of talk is not rational- it's vicious, racist, hate-mongering, and it's based on nothing more than fear and profound ignorance. Please don't fall for this nonsense. We are (or should be) way better than that, people.
Update: I thought that John McCain's concession speech (read the text here) was very gracious. He's a really honorable man, and I have a lot of respect for him.
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