On Tuesday around noon, it became official: Barack Obama became the 44th president of the United States, and black people won’t have President George W. Bush to kick around anymore. Some of us may find that hard to do.And here's another interesting piece.
Just think of it: NAACP board Chairman Julian Bond won’t be able to give his annual anti-Bush tirade at the organization’s convention. No more cracks about Republicans being America’s version of the Taliban. No more NAACP Voter Education Fund “issue ads” all but claiming Bush supports lynching.
Bush-bashers who skewer him for supporting the No Child Left Behind Act will feel an emptiness inside, although they were on shaky logical grounds to begin with. Really, what can you do with otherwise intelligent people who make remarks like this: “No Child Left Behind is awful, and it’s underfunded.”
A columnist colleague of mine said pretty much that to NAACP Washington, D.C. bureau chief Hilary Shelton back in November. Shelton responded by agreeing wholeheartedly. Neither he nor my colleague quite grasped the notion that bad laws shouldn’t be funded at all, “under” or otherwise. By contrast, Wade Henderson of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights did have enough integrity to point out that the NCLB law did have some good provisions.
The NCLB law was a bipartisan effort supported by none other than Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, a Democrat with some pretty liberal street cred. That didn’t stop the Bush-bashing when it came to NCLB and darn near everything else.
Remember when Kanye West popped off, in the wake of the Hurricane Katrina disaster, about how “Bush doesn’t care about black people?" That phrase soon morphed into “George Bush doesn’t like black people,” which strikes me as something distinctly different from “not caring” about black people. After all, the people who said little to nothing about the crimes committed against black folks in New Orleans by black criminals long before Katrina hit can also be accused of “not caring” about black people. And that would be virtually all of us, Kanye included.
We cared about the increasing rate of HIV positive infections among black folks only insofar as we could use them to bash Bush or former Vice President Dick Cheney. Remember the 2004 vice presidential debate, when Cheney admitted that he wasn’t aware of the increased rate of HIV positive infections among black women? Remember the outraged reaction?
“How DARE Dick Cheney not know about the increased rate of HIV positive infections among black women?”
Had we saved some of that outrage for the brothers who are infecting those sisters, maybe the rate of infection would be lower. But black folks getting mad at irresponsible black folks? No way. Too Bill Cosbyish.
It’s time for a bit of uncomfortable truth about the growing rate of HIV positive infections among black folks: Most of it is caused by people who willingly engage in the high-risk conduct that results in getting the AIDS virus. That would be unprotected sex and injecting drugs intravenously with an infected needle. What could former President Bush and former Vice President Cheney have done about people who willingly choose to engage in high-risk, irresponsible conduct?
Why, the same thing President Obama can do: Absolutely nothing.
Oh, there’ll be the usual claim that Obama can increase funding for sex education and kick the “abstinence only” education out the window. “Abstinence only” sex ed has been widely seen as a Bush brainchild, but writer Ta-Nehisi Coates reported in the December issue of Vibe magazine that it actually started under President Clinton, who funded it for $50 million a year. Coates reported that the funding under Bush increased to $176 million a year.
“Abstinence only” sex ed is seen as a failure and one that’s attributed to Bush. But the failure started long before he came into office. If federal dollars for public education resulted in a system where many black students achieved only a basic level in reading and math – meaning that the students could barely read or do math – then what could that same system teach them about sex ed? Why even trust the same system to effectively teach them about sex ed? If the system can’t teach them reading and math, chances are it can’t teach them about sex either.
The first – and really, the only – teachers of sex education should be the parents. Many of them choose to pass on it. Who can we blame for that?
One thing is certain: we don’t have Bush to blame anymore.
No commentary. I'm just sayin'.