Very recently, during a speech at the White House, President Obama was interrupted by a reporter. In a discussion on the subject, a guest on MSNBC asked the question, would such disrespect be shown to the President if he wasn’t black? I honestly was taken aback that someone would suggest such a thing and I’d like to share a little story with you to help illustrate my amazement.
Once upon a time, there was a man, a very great man who gave his life fighting for civil rights. In a very famous address, that man, Martin Luther King Jr. said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” Since then, people have either thought that this dream only applied to Dr. King’s four children, or they have forgotten the statement.
The statement has two parts. First Dr. King desired, and rightfully so, that people would not be judged by the color of their skin. I firmly agree that to do so is wrong. But there is also a second part. The second part of the statement is that people would not be judged by their skin color but instead by the content of their character. People, including the President of the United States, should not be excused from being judged and criticized because of the color of his skin.
The people at MSNBC tried to make the argument that “We’ve never had this otherness afforded to any other president” and that the office of the president has not been disrespected as much as it has been while Obama has been in it. To them, I have this to say. First off, this must be the first time in the last three years that MSNBC has forgotten about Bush. George W. Bush is always being blamed for the current state of things and he received his fair share of heckling and disrespect. So remember that. And second, people do not disrespect the President because of his accent or skin color. People disrespect the President because he has lost their respect.
Do I think that the presidency should get more respect than it is? Yes. I agree that what that journalist did was extremely unprofessional and should be reprimanded. But when things like this happen, don’t try to make excuses. Don’t think that the President himself is infallible and never did anything to deserve such treatment.