Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The President's Near Perfect Pitch on Race

The Problem We All Live With by Norman Rockwell (1963)
The President had this painting placed in the White House just outside the Oval Office. The picture is based on a 1960 incident in Louisiana from the Civil Rights Era. Guess who was President in 1960 and authorized federal enforcement of Civil Rights recognized by Brown v. Board of Education? Yep. That would be President Eisenhower again, the slightly right of center guy a lot like our slightly left of center current President.

This came in under the radar according to the article above and this one at the Atlantic. That seems to be what this President is good at. Imagine if he had placed a more confrontational piece of art by some African-American agitator! No, he chose a piece of art by Norman Rockwell, the icon of American Conservatism, the official illustrator of the Boy Scouts of America as well as old-time values. This artist was someone that I think even Sarah would have to admit was a "real" American. Just think how that big guy on the radio (with the cigar) from up the river a ways at Cape Girardeau, Missouri, would have reacted to some more overt promotion of Civil Rights history from this President.

And here's Rockwell at his best. What a great picture to tell a story! And to take such an ugly part of our real American history and turn it to such a positive, uplifting message! I mean, the "N" word is there for heaven's sake! And in about the only way it could ever be conveyed with a powerful, yet uplifting message. It's that ugly word, along with the three "K's" fading into the background on the dirty, cracked wall tainted by rotten fruit. Contrast that to the beautiful little girl exercising a basic, fundamental, civil right of public education flanked by those strong, yet anonymous symbols of federal law in the protecting those sacred rights. Here's a very good analysis of this painting to consider beyond my feeble thoughts.

As I've said before, the mere reality of our current President is such an important symbol for the progress of our great nation. His continued subtle, but forceful reminders of what is important only add to the legacy (besides all his successes in helping to prevent Great Depression II, signing Health Care Reform, helping to liberate a few countries, taking out a significant terrorist or two, and even finding some common ground with the most irrational Congress since 1861, etc.) Keep up the good work, Mr. President!

In fact, you could even call it "American Exceptionalism."

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