During my college days in the Boston area in 1950 to ’51, I bought a book titled Prejudice. As a young State of Mainer, I was impressed with the ethnic and cultural melting pot of Boston. The book was filled with boring statistics, but had a great introduction that included a story.
The story told of a Catholic archbishop riding in his limousine down Massachusetts Avenue. A little black boy was hitchhiking, and the archbishop directed the driver to stop and pick him up. The boy and the archbishop began to talk, and the archbishop asked, "Son, tell me, are you Catholic?" The boy replied, "No sir, Boss; it’s bad enough being black without being one of them!"
I joined IBM in Boston in 1953. I did systems work at Combined Jewish Appeal as a part of my training. It was a large installation of IBM machines. I noticed that everyone there was Irish. I asked the manager why? He replied, "Son, you don't understand Boston. The Irish don't care who owns it as long as they run it. And the Jews don't care who runs it as long as they own it." Such was the eco/ethnic delineation that contributed to my understanding of prejudice in Boston.
Later, in Washington, in 1957, I managed IBM's business with the Navy. My young family moved into a nice home in Silver Spring, Maryland. A black, a doctor who taught at Howard University, moved into the neighborhood. He was said to be the first black to move into Montgomery County!
Everyone went nuts! The neighbors wanted to stop his moving into the neighborhood, fearing the prices of their home would go down. In a meeting, I suggested this would not happen unless they all decided to sell—a function of supply and demand. The lawyers, who were Jewish (!), firmly stated there was nothing the neighbors could do to stop the man from moving in or to force the doctor to leave.
The doctor turned out to be a great neighbor. It was after that time that I learned that in Washington, D.C., blacks were very sensitive about classes of blacks. That they were sensitive to low-class backs moving into a neighborhood of higher-class blacks!
Still later, when we arrived in the New York area, I was impressed by the strong bias among high class Jews and Christians—to the point where there were and still are Jewish Country Clubs and "others."
All of this caused me to reflect on my growing up in Maine, where geographic distances of 10 miles separated people and instilled feelings of differences that fostered feelings of “difference,” resulting in attitudes of prejudice—and these people were typically fifth- and sixth-generation State of Mainers of German, English, and Scotch Irish backgrounds! For an example close at home, such a manifestation innocently exists between Arroyo Grande and San Luis Obispo.
I suggest that the greatest of all differences in the tree of ethnic, racial, and now sexual divide was and is the economic delineation. I do not pretend here to fully explain the problem or to suggest its solution.
But I have this belief as it pertains to Obama's bias based on his remarks about Trayvon Martin. Our president was elected on the basis of resolving the issues facing this nation; the paramount ones pertain to the nation's security and economic health. Resolving the racial divide with blacks was not a paramount issue, but it has become accentuated by his remarks on the Zimmerman trial. This has significantly confirmed his bias on the race issue.
The final assessment of Obama will not be based on his black background as much as his other credentials to lead. To say that those credentials suggest he can unite the nation in a new politic is contradicted by what and who he is. Because by his very cultural and ethnic makeup, by his past as a community organizer, by his support of liberal causes, by his playing the race card, he substantiates the conclusion that he is strongly biased.
The present national issues regarding the Benghazi, AP/Fox press, NSA, and IRS further cloud the truth as to his veracity, defensiveness, and character—the essence of who he is as mirrored by present-day controversies.
This leads to a judgment of who and what Obama is. It suggests a specification of the attributes of which the racial question should be a subsidiary and minor issue. But it appears not to be. Why? More often than not, it is Obama and those supporting him who appear to play the race card, as evidenced by his criticism on the Trayvon Martin matter.
Otis Page lives in Arroyo Grande. Send comments to the executive editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.