Do you think he has an attitude?@ Asked the pigtailed young lady of Ms. Clarke=s third grade class, speaking of the president, George W. Bush. That was the kinder of the questions peppered at me on a recent visit to P.S. 305. ADo you think he=s crazy?@ ADo you think he=s stupid?@ ADo you think he=s a cowboy?@ It seemed that these third graders were trying to reconcile what they have been taught about this country with its preemptive rush to war.
The myth perpetuated is of President Bush wearing the cowboy=s mantle from the American West. A land of men with true grit and souls of gold. Maybe a little quick on the draw and with too much swagger, but the kind of guys you=d want on your side of the circled wagon. Appearing on Meet the Press, Vice President Dick Cheney said the cowboy is exactly what=s needed at a time like this, a straight shooter to coming to clean up the town..
But the cowboy ethic isn=t what=s driving American foreign policy today, this leadership is coming from a darker place. What is coming to the forefront is what Native-American people have known since 1492, and what African people have been pointing out since being captured and brought here. AThat=s that white boy. He does anything he wants.@ And now he=s doing it on the world stage and people around the world are outraged at the sheer arrogance of the behavior and how little regard there is for human life.
But this is not untypical behavior at all. As professor William Mackey=s aunt_______ used to tell him, AThe buckra ain=t got no shame.@ The problem now is that this shameless behavior is terrorizing people worldwide. People use sentences that include phrases like, Aa nuclear distance from New York@, Abiological attacks@ or AThey=re picking up Pakistanis.@
With Armageddon or a fascist state at the front door, there still may be time to look at Athe buckra@ before it=s too late. Of course there are many wonderful ingredients in the American melting pot, but in order to understand the kind of people who have re-captured the power to run this country, and to fully grasp the danger the world is in, we find there are others that live under a uniquely American rock.
We=ve featured many articles about slavery and its boon for the American economy and the effects on African-Americans, but never much about the master. While slavery is portrayed as the South=s Apeculiar institution@, peculiar also and little spoken of, were the masters of chattel slaves. After all, these are the people who elected the presidents and provided the economic engine that built this country and charted its course. These are the people it once took a civil war to get rid of.
In his 1934 masterwork, Black Reconstruction, 1860-1880, legendary historian W.E.B. DuBoise tells us about this class of men and how they view the world. Though writing in 1934, we can see that the current administration=s budget of tax cuts for the rich and less and less money for schools, libraries and health care, would win nods of approval from the master-mentality of the mid-1800=s. And to have come to power by taking votes away from black people would be the final satisfaction, proving the old ways work best.
We hope by shedding light on the nastier side of the American character, we can get a better understanding of the kind of people wielding presidential power in the United States today and ask how are we going to adjust their attitude before they leave us poor, sick, ignorant and scared.
by David Mark Greaves