Pat Buchanan, one of the most divisive political constructs of this century, made an interesting comment about President Barack Obama. In a recent interview with Rev. Al Sharpton, Buchanan referred to President Obama as Sharpton’s “boy.”
The remark led to Sharpton responding with the kind of ferocity that the situation demanded, telling Buchanan that he needs to respect Barack Obama as his president and everyone’s president. Buchanan initially refused to issue an apology, but eventually took the time to “clarify his remarks.”
First, one can understand what Buchanan may have meant by his reference to President Obama as Sharpton’s boy. Rather than disrespecting President Obama’s manhood, the comment likely applies to the highly public alliance between Rev. Sharpton and President Obama. Even I’ve taken some issue with Rev. Sharpton over this partnership, for I feel that it is risky for a black leader to express unconditional support for any political figure, which may undermine his ability to lead in an objective way. It’s OK for Black leaders to support politicians of their choosing, but the relationship must always be conditional upon on-going, renewed, and consistent mutual sacrifice for the Black community at-large (i.e. personal benefits should be excluded).
With that said, Buchanan was still entirely off-base with his statement about the president. Even if Buchanan’s remark about President Obama was benign, Pat does not possess enough social capital with the Black community to use the word “boy” in any sentence that addresses an adult African American male. Remember that Buchanan is the man who once threw snow balls at a bus that he called “The Boston Blackie” because it carried African American maids to work.
Sharpton was right to correct Buchanan when he made his comments, and I’m glad that he did. In many ways, resentment of the first African American president has become so toxic that Obama’s election has led to otherwise patriotic men disrespecting the presidency itself. Not since the Civil War has America seen such divisiveness between the rich and the poor, black and white, liberal and conservative. Men like Pat Buchanan lead the charge by reminding every gun-totting hillbilly that having a Black president clearly means that our nation has gone to hell in a hand basket. We can never believe that we our nation has become so sophisticated that it can’t suddenly regress into a volcano of violence.
Buchanan is a relic of the past, and a hero for those who long for a time when African Americans had no meaningful political voice. He probably doesn’t understand why Black men take issue with the word “boy” because he’s never been treated like a boy in adulthood. The 73-year old political dinosaur called Pat Buchanan (who actually wrote speeches for Richard Nixon over 40 years ago) should choose his words carefully and end his career with as little volatility as possible. Once he’s uttered his last bit of ignorance on MSNBC, the world will move seamlessly forward without him.