The fact is, he should not have said The Joke in the first place. He should not have thought it; he should not have had the attitude that such a remark would be acceptable in public or private.
I received a comment from Pro this morning that pointed me to a post on the blog, ButAsForMe written by Reformed Lib who calls upon Obama to apologize.
We have been told he is the president of accountability and responsibility. But merely apologizing to a single organization does not rectify the damage that has been done as the ramifications from this ‘joke’ mount in all the corners of this great nation.As I have been known to do, I agree somewhat, but am opposed to an apology per se.
We call on him to apologize to all people, groups and organizations his ‘joke’ hurt and/or offended.
It isn't the joke; it's the attitude at the heart of this episode. The attitude that says it's okay to disparage the disabled and challenged, expecting, and too often knowing, the listeners will ascent to the poor humor. Obama's attitude informed him almost instinctively, without thought, the comment would not be received by anything other than good humor, that it's all in good fun.
Apologizing to a single organization isn't going to change anything, it's too little. A public apology really isn't going to do it, either. There is no amount of apologizing he can do.
What can Obama do? Confess. Go on a public forum and tell people that what he said and thought was wrong, just plain wrong. No excuses. No explanations. No promises to bring Special Olympians to the White House to make the boo-boo better. The promise Obama made to do just that is another example of his, and the nation's, paternalistic and disparaging attitude toward those seen as 'less than'. The idea that everything will be okay with an ice cream cone equivalent does not make up for the years of abuse and debasement. And what do we do the next time it happens?
Obama should go further by asking all of us to examine and talk about why such attitudes are still acceptable, question why we watch television programs like "America's Funniest Videos" that are chocked full of people being hurt causing the audience to laugh uproariously at someone else's pain rather than wince with sympathetic pain and ask if the person is alright now. Question why we as a nation have focused on the fact of the joke and not the genesis.
Laughing at the pain of others is what is really happening. It's a natural human response, but we've overcome other natural human responses before. The process is called 'civilization'. It's what allows us to live together without daily wholesale killing, also a natural human response, in every country, in every nation, in every neighborhood.
I do not want Obama to go the Bill Clinton "I feel your pain" route. That was so very false even liars were embarrassed. I want Obama to truly understand the actual pain of having to get up at 5:30AM to get to the job by 8AM even though the job is only 8 miles away. To understand that two hours or more is what is often spent just getting dressed because sometimes the body just won't cooperate with the brain, that buttoning a shirt or tying shoelaces may be the highest hurdle of the day whether the worker is a mailroom clerk or a CEO.
Special Olympians, their parents, disabled and crippled people, the parents of disabled and crippled children have been very forgiving and shown the world a brave face as if to say, "It don't mean nothin'. " I used to show the world the same face and allowed disrespectful and stupid comments to roll off like water from a duck. But, it never changed anything. To have such an idiot remark come from -- and pay attention here, because it will be the only time I use the name of the man and the office together -- the President of the United States of America, President Barack Obama is simply beyond acceptable, beyond excusable, beyond apology.
The Joke did not come from a place of unity, hope, or change. It came from the same dark evil place that all discrimination springs and is kept alive by our attitude that some people, some conditions are acceptable targets for humor, for good fun, for disrespect and derision.
This is not a Republican/Democrat thing; this is not a Conservative/Liberal thing. Nor is it a race thing or abilities thing. It's the attitude. Change the attitude.
The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.