The ugly side of the inauguration


Ironic that on Inauguration Day, when President Barack Obama told Americans it was time to take personal responsibility and "grow up" as a country, some of his supporters behaved like spoiled children in booing George W. Bush.

And, sadly, neither Obama nor any leader in the public spotlight that day seized the moment to admonish the boorish behavior.

It would have been nice had Obama had the presence of mind in his inaugural speech to not only allude to scripture in saying it's time to put away "childish things" but to also have told the boo-birds that their behavior was inappropriate and the embodiment of those "childish things."

He might have said: "Isn't it enough to be just happy for me? When you boo the former president, you fail to understand what this solemn event is all about -- the peaceful transition of power. This is not a football game. Nor is it a Third World bloodless coup. This is American democracy at work. If you can't respect that, then leave. Now."

But no one mustered the courage to say that. While I thought Obama's speech was otherwise thought-provoking and worthy, he missed an opportunity to call out these boors and chastise their behavior. By not doing so, I am afraid that Obama essentially condoned this kind of mob intolerance. There is already a hateful mean streak among some Obamamaniacs. Left unchecked, it can fester into something quite un-American and un-democratic.

In case you missed it, when President George W. Bush was announced to the crowd, some booed loudly, shocking even the commentators on the official Obama network, MSNBC. One section of onlookers sang, "Nah nah nah nah, hey hey hey, goodbye." And, finally, as Bush left the White House, one deep thinker took the opportunity to give the "one-finger salute," thus saying more about himself than anything else.

This from a movement that fancies itself all about peace, love and global karma.

Now look, it would be a mistake to paint all Democrats and Obama supporters with the actions of these few on Inauguration Day. And, according to news reports, some in the crowd tried hard to shush the boo-birds. That is a hopeful sign.

But let's also not ignore the obvious. There is a growing faction of the American left that seeks revenge more than righteousness.

Intolerant of dissenting views, this faction thinks as comedian Janeane Garofalo does that some members of the opposing political party should be "jailed." Terrorist acts (such as mailing envelopes of white powder to Mormon temples because the gay marriage vote in California went the church's way) are seen by this faction as understandable and acts of legitimate political expression.

There is also an ugly racial component to it. We first saw it with Obama's pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who said, among other things, that white America had deliberately inflicted black Africa with AIDS.

When the Rev. Wright first hit the national stage, we hardly knew what to make of his irrational and separatist statements. Consequently, we pretty much ignored the substance of Wright's racially divisive rhetoric and focused on it as a day-to-day political story. It made us more comfortable, I think.

But in light of the things we saw at the inauguration, it may be time to revisit the dangers of intolerance and hate -- no matter the color of the person who makes them -- and nip this ugly mean streak in the bud.

As our president said, it is time to grow up.

 

Sherman Frederick (sfrederick@reviewjournal.com) is publisher of the Review-Journal and president of Stephens Media.