Let us play a game. I want you to name the first notion that pops into your head after imagining Obama's popular "hope" poster enveloped by fire. Words like "frustration" or "aversion" or simply "heat," seem logical responses. If you said "lynching," then congratulations! You and Meredith Curtis '10 share similarly shallow, liberal thought processes.
She demonstrated her view in a recent letter to the editor ("Brown Republicans' tableslips in poor taste," Sept. 23), in which she writes about the horror that consumed her upon sight of the Brown Republican tableslips; evidently, only a racist could distribute the aforementioned images. As President of the Brown Republicans and designer of the allegedly outrageous tableslips, I can understand it pains liberals when individuals criticize Obama, their secular savior, but baseless racism charges are not the answer.
Indeed, Curtis' claim is ludicrous. If she was not so quick to associate fire and a black man with the era of Jim Crow, she might understand the deeper and more relevant message of the Brown Republicans' tableslips. With the trillions of dollars of debt that Obama has incurred, with overwhelming disapproval of the health care public option, with violence in Afghanistan escalating and with continuous discoveries of questionable morality and ethical lapses on the part of presidential appointees, Obama's agenda and hope truly are "up in flames."
Moderate American voters realize this fact. One needs to look no further than a recent CNN poll showing a majority of Independents disapprove of Obama's performance as commander-in-chief thus far. I guess Democrats like Curtis are turning a blind eye which, come election time, could be a problem as Obama's ascension to the White House can largely be attributed to the immense support of Independents at the polls.
The Left lets no Obama critic walk free without the label of racist, and Curtis appears to endorse the witch-hunt. In a rambling tangent, she uses her mention of the Brown Republican tableslips as a platform to launch into a tirade about the infamous shout by Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C. during Obama's Congressional address regarding healthcare reform. The fact that she supports Jimmy Carter's allegation that Wilson's "you lie!" outburst was racist in its motivation shows her views to be non-credible. Though I condemn Wilson's action, how anyone can connect calling a person a liar to racism is beyond me.
Here is food for thought: could it be that liberals, who tend to hurl the majority of racist accusations, are incognizant of their own racism? Why are they unable to associate blacks with anything but slavery and segregation?
Curtis concludes her letter to the editor by noting that the Brown Republicans' tableslips seemed to display a burning of Obama in effigy, and that doing so was somehow distasteful. She writes, "The Brown Republicans will only attract positive attention if they are more creative and thoughtful." Though I have already elaborated on the meaning of the tableslips, I want to note that the act of burning political figures in effigy has been a common and acceptable means to display political discontent for hundreds of years, and that it does not necessarily imply that the perpetrator wants to immolate the target. Lewes, England has a famous tradition of burnings in effigy, and victims have included Osama Bin Laden and even George W. Bush, though I am sure no leftist Brown student found fault when tongues of fire licked Bush's likeness.
Negative attention, if it continues from liberals unable to distinguish between honest political dissatisfaction and racism, does not bother me. In actuality, I wonder if they are the ones lacking insight and imagination.
When creating tableslips, or any form of advertisement for that matter, I look to satisfy two important standards: that the content grab audience attention and promote public awareness, and that the content issue no personal attacks. I would say I achieved my goals with the Brown Republican tableslips. Curtis' almost-immediate response proves I had no trouble meeting the first benchmark.
And, with regard to attaining the second principle, a reasonable, discerning interpretation of the tableslips generates in the viewer the impression that Obama's vision is disintegrating, not that Obama should be lynched. Indicating, as does Curtis, that tableslips meeting these criteria are "in poor taste" seems to me to be less than accurate.
Keith DellaGrotta '10 is an economics and international relations concentrator from Londonderry, New Hampshire.
He can be reached at
keith_dellagrotta (at) brown.edu.