I drove to Trenton, New Jersey this past weekend to attend a wedding in Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania. My wife wanted to get her nails done Saturday morning. I dropped her off and told her I was going to drive to Bordentown to take some new pictures of a statue of Thomas Paine. I had previously photographed the statue several years ago.
I parked my car around 10:00 AM, got out and started to take my first picture. As I was lining up my shot I heard a voice behind me say something like “that guy has been photographed an awful lot.” I turned around to see who was speaking. I was wearing an Obama 08 sticker on my shirt (instead of a button) and an Obama for President baseball hat that my brother-in-law had given me the previous night. The speaker was a short, older man about 65 or 70, carrying a tall walking stick with a small American flag attached to it. I think he was wearing a red hat. As soon as I turned he saw my hat and said,
“Aren’t you an American? Are you going to vote for that n*****?”
I was stunned and revolted. The words hit me in the face. I didn’t expect to meet someone so ignorant on such a beautiful sunny day in historic Bordentown, New Jersey. He continued walking towards the end of the street and I said, “I’m voting for Barack Obama. He’s ten times smarter than McCain.” He turned at the end of the street and walked back towards me. He pointed to Thomas Paine and said “Who do you think he’d vote for? Ronald Reagan.” I could have reminded him that Reagan was dead, but I didn’t. I said that Thomas Paine would vote for Barack Obama. Then the ignorant little man said, “and he’s a Muslim too.” I said, “No. He’s not.” The ignorant little man continued walking and turned down a side street. That is the last I saw of him. I was really angry. I continued to take some pictures. I took my Obama hat off and put it on Tom Paine.
That ignorant little man hates Obama because of the color of his skin. He has lived 65 or 70 years on this good earth and not learned a thing. Apparently, he hasn’t even really looked at the statue and read the inscriptions. Double click on the picture below to enlarge it.
Thomas Paine was among the first in America to advocate for the abolition of slavery. He too would have been deeply offended by the words of the ignorant little man. Read Paine’s essay African Slavery in America on ThomasPaine.org. The words of the ignorant little man are remnants of slavery, segregation and Jim Crow that still unfortunately echo through this great country. We have come a long way here in America, but there is still a long, long way to go. Too many people still invalidate another person simply because of the color of their skin. People are who they are because of what is inside them and how they treat their fellow man, not because of their skin color.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said in his inspirational I Have a Dream speech, ” I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” We are not there yet. Dr. King was a courageous man. He was as brave as any soldier on a battlefield. He gave his life to free this nation from shameful behavior that divided it. This country is a better place because of him.
When Franklin D. Roosevelt was running for president in 1931, he was rarely photographed in his wheelchair. It was thought that some people would not vote for a president with a disability. He was elected president four times and guided this nation through the Great Depression and World War Two. I bet that some people, if they had known he was in a wheelchair, would not have voted for him. FDR was the right man to lead this country in very dangerous time.
If you are thinking of not voting for Barack Obama because he is black, think again. If you are thinking of not voting at all because you live in a “blue” state and Obama is predicted to win, think again. Who knows how many ignorant little men are lurking out there. Get out there and vote.
I hope the ignorant little man (and all the other ignorant little men and women), forgets to vote.
America desperately needs someone who can lead us through this mess.
I’m voting for Barack Obama. You should too.