They don’t really care about us!

Michael Jackson, Jan. 16, 2004

Michael Jackson was correct. “They don’t really care about us!”

In his most controversial composition ever, he says again and again: “All I want to say is that/ They don’t really care about us!” The “they” involved being the all-powerful, oppressive, White, authoritarian, rulers; and the “us” being the poor, righteous masses who live under “their” boots on “our” necks.

Someone should sit President Barack Obama down to watch the two versions of that video (one in which the “us” are poor Black Brazilian street children and the other in which the “us” are Black inmates in a penitentiary) and then explain to the President that contrary to what he may have thought when he was inaugurated, he and his agenda of good for the masses of Americans is not a “they,” but rather is an “us.”

In his case, the “they” are clearly gun-toting, White Republicans and other sundry conservatives, who mean him and his ambitious plans for reform absolutely no good.

The latest evidence of that reality is the furor surrounding the President’s address to the nation’s school children Sept. 8. His opponents charged Mr. Obama with trying to indoctrinate school children with what they call his “socialist” agenda. In response many school districts and individual schools decided not to permit their students to watch it.

Well, that’s just silly. “That’s just silly,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan said on “Face The Nation,” on CBS. “They can go to school. They can not watch. It’s just an 18-minute speech about personal responsibility and challenging students to take their education very, very seriously,” the Secretary said

“Of course, the president of the United States should be able to address students.” Senate Republican Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said Sept. 6 on “Fox News Sunday.” Parents and teachers should be able to choose whether to show the speech, said Sen. Alexander who served as Education Secretary for Pres. George H.W. Bush who made a similar address to school children during his presidency. It is a good opportunity to give students civics lessons, the senator said, and teachers should embrace the moment.

The campaign is just the latest by Mr. Obama’s political opponents in the arch conservative movement to humiliate the POTUS, as they have been attempting from “the very beginning,” Dr. David Bositis, Senior Research Fellow at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies told me.

“They basically began their opposition to him when he took office. They’ve basically been opposed to every single thing that he’s done. They’re opposed to him breathing.” They are opposed to the President of the United States’s every move. They are opposed to him breathing! And they have said as much, including an unrepentant Christian pastor who has been praying that Mr. Obama be dead.

“It’s no surprise that they saw an opportunity in terms of Obama talking to school children going back to school, they saw an opportunity to sort of shake the cages of the parents who support them, and get them all riled up so that they would call school authorities and say: ‘I don’t want my children turned into a socialist by Obama.’

“These guys have never accepted his legitimacy from the beginning,” he said.

Debate about conservative objections to the speech dominated cable television and talk radio for several days, signaling again the stark divisions in the country both over politics and social issues.

And of course, there are ongoing suspicions that the attacks against Mr. Obama–the first Black president–are racially motivated. “I would say race plays a part of it,” said Dr. Bositis. “But he is also the first Democratic president since (John F.) Kennedy who’s a Northerner. Obama was the first Democratic president from outside the south since Kennedy.

“You have race. You have a president who’s a Northerner. You have a president who’s from a big city. He’s not from Hicktown, like all the other recent presidents, from Hicktown, U.S.A. He’s from Chicago, Illinois, which is a very big and dynamic place.

Conservatives, whose base is among Southern White males, therefore see Mr. Obama as a threat, according to Dr. Bositis. “Yeah. And he’s someone who is not apologizing for being a Northerner, a liberal, or a Black man.”

What that translates to in popular musical terms is simple: “They don’t really care about us.” Face the facts. It’s not going to get any easier as time goes on.

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