Shielded From Victory

By Guest Columnist Nov 13, 2008

by Chris Crews The whole world listened when Obama said, "…to all those who have wondered if America’s beacon still burns as bright: Tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity and unyielding hope." But what all of the world didn’t seewas the 10 foot by 15 foot shield of 2-inch bulletproof glass that Obama stood behind as he gave his acceptance speech. In fact, many Americans still don’t know it was there. What does it say about race relations in America today that we can elect our first Black President, but we have to hide him behind bulletproof glass. Not only that, the Secret Service is being called upon in new ways with no historical precedent, all because of concerns over racial violence. The UK Telegraph recently reported that “fears are growing that Mr Obama…will be the subject of an assassination attempt” and that the Secret Service has “investigated more than 500 death threats against Mr Obama during the presidential election contest.” Add to all of that the Nov. 8 report by Stratfor entitled “Obama and the Presidential Security Challenge” which states:

“The real threat emerges when intent and capability are joined. White supremacists have the intent, but so far have not exhibited capability. We would expect federal authorities to uncover many more plots to attack the president that have been hatched by white supremacist ideologues. So long as they remain amateurish like those in Denver and Tennessee, the president remains secure from the white supremacist threat. But if a combination of ideology and ability to act as a lone wolf comes along, the threat level rises.”

And in a recent behind-the-scenes feature on the Obama and McCain campaigns, Newsweek reported that Obama’s longtime friend and informal foreign-policy adviser Gregory Craig told the magazine that he also had concerns about the security of the Senator. “[Craig] was concerned that the frenzied atmosphere at the Palin rallies would encourage someone to do something violent toward Obama. He was not the only one in the Obama campaign thinking the unthinkable. The campaign was provided with reports from the Secret Service showing a sharp and very disturbing increase in threats to Obama in September and early October.” This raises serious questions that Americans seem unwilling to engage in that are not going to go away on January 20th. How can we be a "post-racial" society, as some people suggest, when our future President has to be constantly guarded, not because of his politics, but because of his racial and ethnic identity? Such realities should be a stark reminder that we are a long ways from anything resembling racial equality in America. For those committed to real social change in America, we have a long road ahead of us.