Was a time, I worried constantly about the President’s safety. This President’s safety. The safety of Barack Hussein Obama, our first African-American Commander in Chief. Indeed, I’ve been worried about him since he declared his candidacy — particularly after I wrote a letter to the editor in support of said candidacy and got in return for my trouble a letter threatening both my life and his.
But, you know. One gets lulled by the Secret Service’s success at keeping the President alive. A little numb to the endless drumbeat of hate. There’s a constant hum of noxious rhetoric, but if one were to be constantly attuned to it, one would lose one’s mind. So one has let down one’s guard.
But you know what? Guard? Back up.
It was Arizona governor Jan Brewer who did it for me, by announcing to the world that she felt “a little bit threatened” by the President when he visited her fair state the other day. Because at a certain point, you realize that they’re not even using dog whistles anymore — they’ve moved on to fog horns and disco balls.
Add up enough “skinny, ghetto crackhead” comments, enough voters yelling “string him up,” enough judges still open to the idea that the President isn’t eligible to be the President, enough “food-stamp President” pronouncements, enough tiny little white ladies saying they felt “threatened” (not to mention enough audible, shared glee when another successful black man is “put in his place“) — well, add all that up and throw in all the other horrible, nasty, brutish racism that has been on display with greater regularity in the past few months, and you’ve got a situation where it is simply far too easy to imagine someone with access to a gun getting the notion that maybe it’d be a good thing to use that gun on the uppity black man who’s running around threatening Jan Brewer and the Statue of Liberty.
I remind myself that this President has the best, deepest Secret Service protection ever received by any American leader. I remind myself that they are talented, trained, and far more aware of the threats than I am. I remind myself that worrying avails neither me nor the President anything.
And then I remember that back in 2009, the Secret Service was already reporting that “threats against the president’s life [are up] by 400 percent from his predecessor,” and I start to worry again, if for no other reason than that I have a very hard time believing that the number of death threats has decreased in the meantime.
Arizona Governor Jan Brewer and her ilk may have gleefully moved on to fog horns and disco balls, but I do wonder if they have any real grasp of the fact that people need only be a little bit unhinged to respond to the rhetoric with violence. That a man who yells “string him up!” at a campaign event might later decide to try to put Barack Hussein Obama in his place, too. Like, I don’t know, maybe one of the guys seen in a photo posing with guns and a bullet-riddled image of the President’s face just the other day, and posted to the Facebook page of an Arizona police officer.
And then I wonder what will happen to this country if the Secret Service slips up, just once.