By Dr. Julianne Malveaux
Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has one hell of a nerve. In an image that has gone viral, she put her finger in President Obama’s face, apparently lecturing him about something or other, making her the pure picture of arrogant disrespect.
Apparently, she has learned from the best of the marketers. Before her finger-wagging diatribe, her book Scorpions for Breakfast was ranked 285,568 on the Amazon list. By the time she finished promoting and defending her disrespect, with appearances on Fox News and other networks, the book rose from its lowly perch to be ranked at 21 by Thursday and at 15 by Sunday.
And, you know, I almost bit by buying the book myself, figuring that I ought to read about something I’m going to talk about. But Kindle lets you “sample” and the sample was not impressive. And Amazon lets you browse parts of the book. Also unimpressive. At the end of the day, I refuse to enrich a woman who lacks such basic disrespect that she has to finger wag and still does not have the good sense to apologize. Shame on her and shame on Arizona!
She is not the first, though, and she won’t be the last to disrespect President Obama and the First Family. Indeed, from the time President Obama was nominated the disrespect has been replete, and it has had a racial component that only an ostrich would deny. Brewer played the race card, with body language that screamed “boy.” Then she said President Obama was “disrespectful” when he walked away from her mid-conversation. She is lucky that President Obama has such amazing self-restraint. I can imagine quite a few folks, failing to relish the experience of a leader so undisciplined as to resort to finger wagging, who might have responded very differently than President Obama did.
Later, Governor Brewer said she felt “threatened” by President Obama. Give me a break! This is classic Birth of A Nation, with the fragile white woman so threatened by brutish black man that she runs off a cliff. If anyone should have felt threatened by the conversation, it was President Obama, which is perhaps why he walked away. Look at the picture. Who looks contained, and who looks out of control?
Brewer’s invocation of racial stereotypes sent her pathetic book rising to the charts, just like Limbaugh’s racial attacks on President Obama keep his ratings up.
The insults to the Obamas have been too numerous to detail, but I was appalled when Congressman James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) dared discuss the First’ Lady’s posterior, and even more appalled when legions of people did not rise and call him on it. Similarly, South Carolina Congressman Joe Wilson shouted “You Lie” when the President was speaking and went on to raise money in the wake of his disrespect. Kansas House Speaker Mike O’Neal, a Republican, circulated an email describing our First Lady Mrs. Yo-Mama, then clumsily apologized that he didn’t read the whole email.
While most decent people consider children hands off – that was the case for Amy Carter and Chelsea Clinton – the Obama girls have also been the subjects of sickly racist jokes. The Obamas have been stoic in the face of crazy racism, but Brewer says our President is thin-skinned. He didn’t write a book replete with whining complaints about the response to her racist SB 1070 that not only attempted to close borders, but also charged law enforcement officials with stopping people who “look” like illegal residents of our country. If you can’t take the heat, Mrs. Brewer, then stay out of the legislation. And keep your finger out of people’s faces.
Rudeness, however, seems to be a marketing ploy these days, and disrespecting the President seems to be even a better ploy still for the Republicans who implicitly play the race card. And it does not cut both ways. When the Dixie Chicks were critical of President Bush, their sales plummeted and they were disinvited to a number of concert opportunities. Jan Brewer is disrespectful to President Bush, her book sales rise and she becomes a conservative heroine. She attempted to do what so many conservatives have also attempted to do – put President Obama in his place. But here’s the deal. He is in his place. His place is in the White House!
Write, call, email Arizona Governor Jan Brewer. If you make discretionary decisions on meeting places, consider what support of Arizona says to this disrespectful governor and the people she represents. Jan Brewer needs to know that while some people are grabbing up her book, others see through her as a disrespectful citizen who would stoop to finger-pointing theatre to take her mediocre book from the bottom of Amazon pile to the top.
I can’t say it enough – shame on you Jan Brewer. You are very blessed and highly favored to have chosen to wag your finger at a man of restraint. Don’t try it anywhere else, because the next person might meet you toe to toe instead of choosing to walk away.
Julianne Malveaux is President of Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, North Carolina.