Thursday, April 01, 2010

more notes from a recovering liberal

 Robin is a recovering liberal and a psychotherapist in Berkeley.
March 31, 2010

The Shock of Barack

By Robin of Berkeley
I've been feeling funky since Black Sunday, the day of the health care debacle. As a therapist, I'm usually able to identity my feelings.  But this one had left me stumped.

I went through the usual laundry list of emotions: Am I depressed? (A little, but that's not it.) Worried, scared? (Yes, but who isn't?) Angry? (Very, but that's still not what's bugging me.)

It took a conversation with a conservative friend, Nancy, for me to pinpoint the feeling. Nancy told me that a Jewish co-worker, a staunch Obama supporter, was feeling "shell-shocked" by Obama's vilifying Israel.

Bingo. That's what it is: stunned, shell-shocked, traumatized. 

But it's not PTSD -- post-traumatic stress disorder -- because then Obama would be ancient history. It's trauma happening right here, right now, at lightning speed.

Trauma means witnessing something that humans are not designed to see, a horror that is more than the self can absorb. The brutality of war, a gruesome crime scene, the sudden death of a loved one. Or the evil that unfolds through unchecked power yielded by megalomaniacs.

For me, trauma was that cloudless November day, years ago, when I exited an Oakland restaurant at noon and soon thereafter, lay prone on the concrete, bloody and broken

Just moments before, I had looked into the eyes of a man who didn't know that I was human, or who knew but didn't care. I saw something sinister in him, but I ignored my gut. I was still steeped in liberal political correctness and didn't want to appear racially insensitive.

When I see what Obama is doing to this country, how he is treating its citizens, I'm reminded of the man who mugged me. I think that both are constitutionally incapable of seeing our humanity. And each day that Obama is in office, he communicates this same deadly message to the masses -- that opponents are not human.

This would explain the burgeoning of hate and even violence towards those who deign to disagree. And why Tea Party members and conservatives are being targeted, as well as entire countries like Israel. 

And this would illuminate why Obama is unfazed while the economy crashes. And why he cavalierly demonizes Israel, putting millions of Israelis at risk. And it explains why Obama mocks conservatives who are legitimately worried about this administration's violating fundamental rights.

But how could Obama see us? Did anyone in his childhood ever see him?

Did little Barry's needs factor into his mother's decision to shlep him to Indonesia to live with her and her alcoholic second husband? And how much maternal love was on display when she dragged him back home to Hawaii and then abandoned him for good?

Did Obama's humanity matter to Grandpa Stanley and Frank Marshall Davis when they sat around drinking, talking trash talk about women, and telling dirty jokes to the discomfited little Barry?

What was Stanley thinking, giving Barry over to Davis, an alleged pedophile and Communist, for mentoring? And did Davis do the most unspeakable act of violation and dehumanization to Barry, as the teenage Obama hints at in the poem, "Pop"?

Pop takes another shot, neat,

Points out the same amber

Stain on his shorts that I've got on mine, and

Makes me smell his smell, coming

From me;  he switches channels, recites an old poem. . . 

Asks for a hug, as I shrink. . .

For someone to survive a difficult childhood intact, he needs at least one person to see his humanity. It's best if the person is a close relative, but a child can endure with the help of someone else. An attentive coach, counselor, neighbor, or teacher can work wonders.

Who mirrored Obama's humanity back to him? Who looked into the young Barry's eyes and reflected back the man he was meant to be? Who honored and cherished the human being inside?

I'll tell you who -- no one. His family groomed him and sculpted him. They projected onto him who they wanted him to be. In later years, other egotistical father figures, like Rev. Wright and Bill Ayers, scripted his Messiah-like role.  

But was there someone who loved and honored Obama for who he was? No.

And that's why Obama cannot see you or me. He cannot respond to the pain and suffering he is inflicting. He may, in fact, derive satisfaction by the act of revenge.

Years ago, I came face to face with a man who also didn't know that I existed. He had no qualms about injuring me and leaving me lying wounded in the middle of the street.

I wasn't a person to him. I was nothing. This is where all evil begins: the dehumanizing of another. 

From what I have seen this last year, Obama shows no ability to walk in another person's shoes. This would require empathy and sensitivity, traits that are nowhere to be found.  

Frankly, every time I see Obama, I catch a glimpse of the man who mugged me. 

And that, to me, is the true danger and horror and shock of Barack.

A frequent AT contributor, Robin is a recovering liberal and a psychotherapist in Berkeley.
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