Monday, October 29, 2012

The Irrationalism of Emotion...

I watched the fascinating documentary The Cuban Missile Crisis: Three Men Go to War on PBS last week. I was struck in particular by what one of the academic and intellectual taking heads said in that documentary. Americans, to paraphrase him, are like werewolves affected by the full moon when it comes to Cuba. They can't and have never been able to deal rationally with a nation many think of as an extension of and a playground of the United States and which others think of, in an obfuscating and dissembling nostalgic purple haze, as a utopia before the Revolution.

This statement, a statement I agree with, by the way, got me thinking about those people who hate American's current president of the United States, Barack Obama. I have long thought that the hatred many Americans have for Obama is similar to the hatred many Americans, particularly those first and second generation Cuban exiles living in Miami, have for Cuba and Castro. They are both grounded in emotion, elite and privileged class emotions in the first instance and racist tinged emotions in the second.

The problem with emotional hallucinations, and the emotional hatred of Cuba and the emotional hatred of Obama are both hallucinations, is that they bear no relationship to reality. When you actually look objectively at Barack Obama, for instance, he is clearly cut out of the same foreign policy cloth as Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, and George W. Bush. Just as Kennedy followed in Eisenhower's footsteps on Cuba and Vietnam Obama has followed in the footsteps of foreign policy initiatives laid down in the Bush administration that preceded him and even expanded them. Obama's continuation of and expansion of drone strikes in Pakistan and elsewhere and Obama's continuation of the plans to kill Osama bin Laden immediately come to mind here.

Given these similarities one has to look for other reasons for the irrational hatred many Americans have for President Obama. And I think, as I have already mentioned, that the thing one has to look at is good old fashioned American racism, an American racism that has long been linked to rhetorics of state rights, anti-communism, anti-socialism, anti-liberalism, and Supreme Court activism among others. You have to look to, in other words, irrational culturally constructed emotions.

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