LOCAL VOICES: Under the skin

Editor's note: Ms. Lewis submitted this as a letter to the editor shortly after she posted it in response to Rufus G.W. Sanders'
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

Editor's note: Ms. Lewis submitted this as a letter to the editor shortly after she posted it in response to Rufus G.W. Sanders' Oct. 12 column. Edited here for space, it is posted by her in full in the reply section of Sanders' column online and in the Register Forums.

By REGINA LEWIS

Former Sandusky resident now living in Bessemer, Ala.

Rufus Sanders' criticism of Mr. Michael Steele, Chairman of the Republican party, troubles me. I don't care much for Mr. Steele, but I find the following statement offensive:

"Rather than being proud of a brother and happy for the message this sends around the world about America's ability to redeem herself ... he played the role of a hater".

Mr. Sanders chose to judge Mr. Steele and his comments not by their merit but first by the color of his skin? Is he saying it matters more that he is a black man, rather than any other color? and that because he is black, he ought to think in a certain way, support a certain political ideology?

Should all good "brothers and sisters" support our President Obama so blindly? That is the kind of "cult of personality" that history shows to be dangerous.

I am a great admirer of our Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his vision not for our black race, but for humanity, the true essence of which has been long forgotten, or at least badly obscured. I believe Dr. King would roll over in his grave and shed dusty tears upon learning of your comments. The great man who said "I have a dream that my four 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," would be greatly disturbed by your incrimination of a fellow citizen, for first observing the color of his skin and judging him on that basis.

President Obama's own staff admitted their shock at this award, because clearly they knew he had accomplished little in his young presidency. Any criticism truly belongs with the Nobel committee and not President Obama. As you said, he did not invite this award. Yes, he aspires for greatness and excels at conveying his vision, not just to America, but around the world.

In the past, the Nobel Prize has recognized great accomplishments, such as the work of Mother Theresa in Calcutta, India; Doctors Without Borders; and Nelson Mandela. I feel for our dear president, and the burden he has now been saddled with, having this weighty prize bestowed upon him at this time. It would be a great gesture toward both democracy and peaceful demonstration (community organizing) if President Obama would accept this prize, not in the name of his own deeds and potential accomplishments, but in the name of those such as Neda Agha-Soltan, a young mother so brutally murdered while she protested peacefully against tyranny in Iran. Neda and all the Iranian men and women who have been oppressed, silenced and murdered, are our "brothers," as you like to say, not by the color of their skin, but by the oppression and tryranny that they oppose. By the freedom that they dream of.

In a brief, graceful and prescient step, President Obama could transcend his Nobel critics, provide much-needed support to Iranian freedom fighters and show he truly deserves the recognition he has received. We shall see what type of leader he chooses to be.

So now I must ask Mr. Sanders: Will you weigh my comments by the merit of my argument, or must you first know the color of my skin before deciding whether they are valid?