It’s your 51st birthday. I turned 67 three days ago. That makes me your senior by 16 years. So, allow me to call you by your name when you were in Hawaii. I drive around with a Hawaii-issued license, so I guess, we relate commonly though differently to the Aloha State of the Rainbow coalition. I also lived in a predominantly African-American project on Chicago’s Westside, and in the urban polyglot of Uptown in the '70s and '80s, and since you launched your political activism in the same city in almost similar vocational expenditure, you will pardon my tone of familiarity.
Still, you are my President, and my salutation carries with it the respect appropriate to the office that you hold in the country where I am a citizen. I am currently tramping around the environs of northern Inner Mongolia, in the area where the Mongolian tribe of Genghis Khan originated. The same genetic source crossed the Berring Straits long time before, the ancestors of those who were first to people what we now call the Americas.
Those curious about where I got the allusion to my title on this reflection can google “Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee,” a popular “historical” account of the Native American experience under the administration of Uncle Sam. You will recall that the account was written not from the perspective of "go west, young man," but from a forlorn look eastward on how the nation’s fathers set policies in D.C. to systematically decimate these proud people who trace their origins to the Mongolian steppes. The veil of tears march for the Seminoles from the southeast to Oklahoma remains a classic case of genocide.
Inner Mongolia now flies the flag of the People's Republic of China of the one star and four smaller ones. One account of what this symbol represents is the unity of a diverse people, the predominant Han along with the Tibetans, Mongols, Manchus, and the other ethnic minorities.
I am not particularly clear how my red-white-and-blue allegiance suddenly adopted a foreign policy of containment of the country whose park restrooms that I recently used in my travels are graced by images of Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse, quintessential cartoon characters of American lightness of being and red-blooded playfulness.
Additionally, some Pinoys (by my definition, Filipinos who are world-wise and street-smart) launched a boycott of things made in China. Led by Beatrice LTC CEO’s Loida Nicolas Lewis, whose reputation we became familiar with when we lived inside the beltway of DC, who also heads the Cayman-registered company doing business in China, and supported by human rights and immigration lawyer Ted Languatan of Daly City, California, their effort seems to have gained a hearing in the CNMI.
Ms. Lewis and Languatan’s reasoning echo your administration’s articulation to contain China as it allegedly threatens U.S. national interest in the Far East. I assume Clinton at State, and Panetta at Defense, reflect the current thinking of the White House. If you see your job to make America be great again, Rah! Rah! Rah!, we may define that as to making all of us be real and genuine democrats again! Authenticity is the real mark of authority.
I lived in Saskatchewan in the late '70s. It was while working with Canada’s Metis (mixed blood between the natives and European frontiersmen and fur traders) that I first heard the plaintive song of Buffy Saint Marrie titled like the above book. She sang:
I learned the safety rule
I don’t know who to thank
Don’t stand between the reservation
And the corporate bank
They’re sending federal tanks
It isn’t nice but it’s reality
Bury my heart at wounded knee
Deep in the earth
I said cover me with pretty lies
Bury my heart at wounded knee
I do not think you lied to us (not even on your birth certificate!) but your watch has not done much on your campaign promises that captured our votes and elected you into office. I am an ardent supporter, and I support you again, if only for the simple reason that your opponent is a sorry alternative. But I do not wish to support you by default. Right now Barry, you’ve got your knee on my wounded heart!
I know it is an election year, and precisely because corporate America continues to widen the equity gap between the haves and the have nots, set to put funds in the service of denying you a second term, it must give you real pause. To play into the hands of those who drum up opposition on flash point issues like immigration, gun control, homophobia, and the like, is to give in to deception. More importantly, the frolicking Panda that may actually grow to robust for its own good, is not the foe!
The issue remains is the "We" in "Yes, we can." Keep making real the spirit of Jefferson and Lincoln, and other predecesors in our political experiment, that "we the people" is a government "of the people, by the people, and for the people." Let us, those who support you, not get off the hook too easily. Participatory democracy remains the real call of the hour. The onus of responsibility lies in our hands, encouraged and supported by the executive powers of your office.
So President Barack Hussein Obama, on your natal day, you the man! Get your priorities back into order. We will march along with you. It is America for the planet and all that is in it that will heal many wounded hearts!
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Jaime R. Vergara (email@example.com) previously taught at San Vicente Elementary School on Saipan and is currently a guest lecturer at Shenyang Aerospace University in China.