We are free… to be free
(Nelson Mandela – Johannesburg, February 6th 2001)
To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you’re on the wrong side of history but we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist
(President Barrack Obama, Washington, January 20th 2009)
Perhaps… just perhaps… a really key sentence – although, curiously, the commentators didn’t or haven’t yet picked up on it – within newly inaugurated President Obama’s first address as – officially – the most powerful man in the Western hemisphere.
The man in the spotlight … This had to be a day of… no more, yes we can – there had to be a more resounding message, something that was more than pure, perfectly delivered, rhetoric. Could the man in today’s spotlight deliver… yes, he could – and did.
On a cloudless, sub-zero, Washington late-morning Obama stood tall and rightly proud – Kenyan-Kansas black against that familiar snow-white backdrop of the Capitol, looking out from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial; his hand on that great man’s own velvet-bound Bible, the smallest of his two young children, standing on a foot-stool, the better to witness for herself an unforgettable few minutes unfolding.
Obama – a modern day icon at the altar of memory.
Within which, a strange irony in that the Capitol was – in the main – constructed by enslaved black Afro-Americans and, that it was barely fifty years ago that the deep South and Birmingham, Alabama in particular erupted.
Racial tension overflowed; segregation was not just rife but a tragic way of life and black fought white for that most basic of Human Rights – the right of equality no matter creed, race or colour.
Today… at long last… Doctor King’s dream became a reality.
As far as the eye could see, countless thousands – with the official television estimates ranging toward two million – crowded the Washington Mall to watch history unfold.
And, perhaps too, this’ll be the first big step on a long ladder of understanding – for everyone throughout the world – that it actually matters not one effin’ jot if you’re black, brown, yellow, red or of any skin colour whatsoever; that differing faith views matter not one iota either.
Because kneeling shoeless on the carpet to face Mecca is of no more importance than the worship of Christ; that a Jewish faith is just as acceptable as atheism; that Scientology is as personal a belief as is Buddhism and Hinduism is as relevant as Seventh Day Adventism and Calvinists are as significant in terms of belief as Humanists are.
We are one... but not the same.
Yet… one wonders if anyone in the Middle East will ever allow their minds or hearts to be unlocked from the sheer, bigoted hatred they seem to love to cling to – to free their heads and minds enough to be willing to listen to a plea from the heart that echoed what the world has been thinking and wishing for years.
Because Obama’s inauguration day was made all the more memorable by news footage of the UN Secretary General’s visit to the Gazza strip and the revelation that the Israeli’s have been shelling school compounds there using white phosphorous…
He said it was entirely unacceptable… anyone watching would have thought the same… so…why on earth are militants within the respective camps still blasting the shit out of each other. And hurting the entirely innocent?
Talk about time to unclench the fist; it is… NOW.
And, it certainly is time that ALL tanks are beaten into tractors.
Warm in Israel this time of year but a biting wind blowing across the tundra of Washington today – and, I wonder just what levels of thermal underwear were utilised by the great and the good as much as I got to thinking about the amount of hair lacquer employed too.
Hilary Clinton’s mane of air-brushed thatch barely moved in that stiff breeze. Sadly, it didn’t look like Sarah Palin made it, maybe she had a prior engagement hunting bears in Alaska – the lady of whom it was once said (in my hearing) by someone brandishing an over-filled brandy-glass… My arse is more liberal than that Sarah Palin.
And, will Michelle become the next Jackie O.. and will the children get their new puppy and what was it that the departing Bush-duo said just before they left for their helicopter ride to…
Where do ex-Presidents go exactly..? Home on the range must be… a bit of a let down don’t you think?
Eight years in office perfecting the art of being the most unpopular President in living memory; from taking calls and dialing all those other world leaders, getting through on a one-to-one, first name basis on the third ring…
But from now, it’ll be calling the club secretary asking to change the ten-am to a half-past tee time for the morning four-ball… Which is not quite the same as getting through and chummying up to Putin on the price of Russian gas… or having Bono harangue you on stage in front of thirty-thousand punters, in his guise as McPhisto, repeatedly calling the White House… is it?
At least he won’t have to go through all of that hand-shaking any more – well, not on the industrial-level scale of today.
How many times did George Double-U and B.O. actually grip and grin – after (or was it before) church, there was the brunch with Michelle handing over the gift of a leather-bound book in which Mother Bush might write her own memoires, ie photo opportunity on the steps to the White House and, of course another after they left; then they must have done it again when they arrived at the Capitol.
Then, they did it all over again on the podium before the event, then again when it was all over… So much pressing of flesh.
Plus, maybe a few times in between (for those ever-present photographers)… though I suspect that the after-speech grips weren’t quite as convivial as those prior to since B.O. went for the jugular within the first couple of minutes, unleashing a sidewinder verbal missile that made George Double-U look mighty uncomfortable – for him, his dynasty in tatters and no hiding place in the glare of the arc lights.
Then, like Broccoli Spears, they did it all over again – when waving crocodile teary bye-bye’s to each other before the green doors to the oh so green is the new red white and blue helicopter lifted Bush times two up up and away.
I wonder if both have got nice firm grips or if – today especially – they were on a mission to out-grasp each other… a bit like arm-wrestling someone you meet randomly in a pub…
You know the kind of thing when someone you’ve just been introduced to gives you the iron-man, my fist is made of steel sort of handshake and you grit your teeth to combat the vice-like grip yet wince enough to make your buttocks clench.
Maybe that was their ploy today… out griping each other in a final trial by handshake.
And oh, I do so wonder what was said… perhaps it was B.O saying… Look, I’m sorry we can’t ask you to stay to lunch but… do promise to come over for dinner one night soon, maybe when we’ve redecorated the bathroom… we’re installing Michelle’s Mom in the Granny annexe, we’ll ditch the kids for the evening… so, remember to bring a couple of bottles of wine too… ok?
And maybe George Double-U’s reply was… Sure, love to… hey, great you fluffed your words up, I’ve been doing that meself for years. Could never get a darned thing right, learned that trick from my Pa. Now, remember, Barrack… you and Michelle be mighty careful with the ol’ bed in the master bedroom… it got a bit of workout when Bill was in charge here and one of the legs is still just a bit wobbly… Oh, and… Barrack – watch out for that Bono fella too… he talks a lot, I think I nearly bought half of Africa just to shut him up one afternoon… Ok, me and the wife gotta run, that helicopter ain’t gonna wait too long… see y’all in a few weeks.