Saturday, October 10, 2009

Of A Fire on the Moon and Obama Stuck in the Craw of the Mob

By: Harold Michael Harvey


I have been missing in action of late, much to the displeasure of my editor. You see my editor has been my sidekick for thirty years. She relishes finding my faults and pointing them out with a sense of humor that both pains and refreshes my writing. I’ve not given her a cathartic vent in recent weeks. Thus she has time to find fault with sundry other aspects of my being, which is a sure prescription for writer’s block.

Not that my absence can be neatly summed up as writer’s block. I’ve been busy fighting my publisher for much needed revisions to the proofs of Paper Puzzle. It seems these days the traditional publishing houses have reduced their editorial staffs in cost cutting measures similar to most other industries. When duties overlap, little editorial miscues can make an otherwise Pulitzer Prize winning manuscript just an ordinary piece of literature. So when the personal editor says to change it, it’s worth slowing down the production process to get the necessary changes implemented.

I’ve also cut down a tree or two in the back yard with the assistance of my son and we are set with fire wood for the winter.

Additionally, my focus has not been on my son’s budding career as a sports writer for my hometown newspaper. A job I would loved to have had when I was his age. So he and I have spent the past few days talking about the importance of social media, as we approach the close of the first decade of this bold century. A century that is vastly different from the century of our birth; as different as his great grandparents’ birth century was from mine.

Big and small town newspapers have perhaps seen their golden days. The model that will survive the Craigslist pandemic will not look anything like the daily paper dropped on the doorsteps and driveways of American families before the advent of the information superhighway. Thus an enterprising reporter has to be on the look out for opportunities to expand his or her career.

“We,” says Mitch Joel, author of Six Pixels of Separation, “are connected to each other” by someone we personally know.

As is my habit, to drive this point home, I resorted to a story from the past. I told my son of walking into the book store my first day on campus at Tuskegee Institute and seeing the shelves loaded with Norman Mailer’s 1959 rant, Advertisement for Myself. It was strange to see the Harvard educated Mailer with more shelf space than the Institute’s own former student, Ralph Ellison, who had penned the brilliant novel Invisible Man.

At semester’s end the shelves were still overflowing with Mailer’s pitch to ensure his “present and future work....will have the deepest influence of any work being done by an American novelist in these years.” Yet I bought and read it. I still have my copy. It is bounded today by a strip of clear tape.

Thus Mailer knew in 1959, any writer worth his or her ink had to engage in the self deception of advertising oneself for public consumption.

Mitch Joel, Chris Brogan and other social media gurus have learned what Mailer knew 50 years ago. So the son and I built a social media platform that says, “ hey world, get your sports news at Coley Harvey-MaconTechTalk on FaceBook and @MaconTechTalk on Twitter”. They are not technical posts, but technocrats are certainly welcome. The Tech in the name stands for Georgia Tech. Coley is the Georgia Tech beat reporter for The Telegraph in Macon, Georgia.

As we talked about Norman Mailer, in the background, a television news anchor waxed on about NASA’s pending aggression on the moon in search of ice beneath its core. My thoughts turned away from Mailer’s seminal work, Advertisements for Myself, to his epic depiction of the first manned moon landing, Of a fire On the Moon.

After the landing, it was not so much that man had visited the moon; what mattered now was getting them back into the lunar atmosphere. The spacecraft that had floated onto the moon’s surface like a singular snow flake on a blustery winter’s morning on earth, would require an enormous fiery explosion to get back to Apollo11, which was orbiting the earth in nervous anticipation, like a cheer leader waiting to be asked out by the captain of the football team.

Why then, with two wars, an economy in recovery and political fanaticism running amuck, is there a national fascination with a bombardment of the moon 40 years later? Could this aggression on the moon, to paraphrase Mailer: represent the core of some magnetic human force called Americanism, or is this exploration simply the knights of a new silent majority emerging from human history, with an African in the White House, in order to colonize distant planets.

We watched this morning in anticipation of the fiery explosion NASA had promised. We saw nothing as depicted in the models; no light, no dust, no plumb of smoke coming from the crater on the moon. What happened this morning may not be known by average citizens for another 40 years. Perhaps Mailer was correct in 1969 when he postulated that machines may possess a psychology of their own. Imagine, machines with minds of their own, so unpredictable in functionality that the massive brain trust at NASA can not predict the outcome.

Which brings me to my closing point. For the third time in history a sitting American president has received the Nobel Peace Prize. This year’s award goes to President Obama. He was preceded by Teddy “Rough Rider” Roosevelt and Thomas Woodrow Wilson. All three American presidents were confronted with at least one war which threatened the economic and political security of the nation.

Roosevelt was the nation’s first strong chief executive. The power of the oval office has increased exponentially since the early 1900s when he first flexed his executive authority. He received the Nobel Peace Prize for volunteering to mediate a dispute which threatened to disrupt Western access to raw materials in the Far East. His efforts led to the end of the Russo-Japanese War.

Wilson, following World War I worked to form the League of Nations, the precursor of today’s United Nations. Although the League of Nations could not hold the peace, Wilson was rewarded with the Nobel Peace Prize in 1918.

In his brief time in office, Obama has extended an olive branch to Europe, Asia, Africa and islands of the seas. The common thread which binds these three sitting presidents is a belief that the security of its neighbors means long term economic and political security for America. Their actions were outside the box of conventional thinking.

Yet the nay sayers will not allow President Obama any peace. On the social network, Twitter, I recently mirrored the rants of the fanatical right. I deliberately presented an extreme opposing view to their displeasure over Obama’s selection for the Nobel Peace Prize. After a few rounds of nonsense the mob, as they call themselves, cried they were sick of me and no longer wanted to engage in further discussion. I wanted them to see exactly how they appear to other people. If my conduct was nauseating, theirs was equally vile. One can only hope this group will reevaluate their conduct in light of the assault projected upon their extreme positions.

Mailer prophetically penned the frustration of the present day mob in his 1959 piece titled The White Negro. The consternation of the current day mob causes them to blur the lines between socialism and democracy. Following Mailer’s line of thought, the mob’s fear that the nation will resort to socialism has to do with the ascendancy of the “Negro,” or in our day, a black president.

“It is no accident,” Mailer writes, “the source ..:is the Negro for the Negro has been living on the margin between totalitarianism and democracy for two centuries.” Indeed, Mailer is right, and we are now into our third century of living on the edge. If the Negro has learned anything from the American experience, it is how not to govern; it is how to share power for the betterment of all. It is precisely this fact, that the mob fails to understand.

Thus Obama is stuck in the craw of the mob causing the mob to gag, just like the Twitterer who said I “make her sick”. They gag on Obama’s every success and every seeming failure. This nauseating feeling fuels the mob’s desire to denigrate each of Obama’s presidential experiences. He’s a bad man and must of necessity be thrown out of office either through the rise of the “birth certificate movement,” or by way of a military coupe, this band seems to argue.

Hopefully the mob will be able to extricate Obama from its throat, before they miss the most innovative presidency since fellow Nobel Peace Prize recipient Teddy Roosevelt represented both the GOP and the Bull Moose Party in the White House.

© October 9, 2009

23 comments:

WHSwagspeare@twitter.com said...

mr.harvey i thank you for inviting me to read this post. i wish i could have seen the tweets between you and the others. as a young black man without much political savvy, i tend to see the gov't as it is presented. its hard to decipher who is telling the truth. i do enjoy your writing style and presentation. keep it up.

Anonymous said...

. . .Thus Obama is stuck in the craw of the mob causing the mob to gag, just like the Twitterer who said I “make her sick”. They gag on Obama’s every success and every seeming failure...

Sadly, this is no surprise. I would imagine there are many who are sick and suffering because they now realize that those who were ALWAYS meant to be subservient, have flipped the script and are now in seats of authority.

Hopefully, it does not cause many to have a stroke or choke on the nasty venom they freely spew, seemingly minute by minute.

Numerous comments and websites I've stumbled upon have caused me to shudder and have literally made my knees buckle from the evil words that are tossed from the writers' hearts.

I am very disappointed that as a whole, we will remain in racial kindergarten and never ascend beyond focusing on exterior appearances. We will never graduate to a higher spiritual plane and reap the REAL benefits of living on this great planet.

I'm afraid I won't see it in my lifetime and it is quite shameful that in the year 2009, we are literally STUCK on skin color.

Bottom line.

Even the universe MUST be embarrassed regarding the trivial pursuit of this "intelligent" HUMAN race. And, in many respects, we are ALL guilty.

Nevertheless, it is still my sincere hope that we graduate real soon and stop finger pointing, name calling and foaming at the mouth like a child because we are displeased with the work of the Creator. Since. . .it is HE is who has made us and not we ourselves.

And no matter what we call it. . . bad politics, bad decisions, bad whatever, the way a person looks is still at the core of many comments.

fr41trek said...

that is the dichotomy
that is the U.S.A.

Anonymous said...

I am in complete agreement with your post. Enjoyed reading it.

"Thus Obama is stuck in the craw of the mob causing the mob to gag, just like the Twitterer who said I “make her sick”. They gag on Obama’s every success and every seeming failure. This nauseating feeling fuels the mob’s desire to denigrate each of Obama’s presidential experiences. He’s a bad man and must of necessity be thrown out of office either through the rise of the “birth certificate movement,” or by way of a military coupe, this band seems to argue.

I have been in similiar "discussions" and there is no reasoning with the detractors. Intellectual conversation is not possible because they do not excercise their brains. They let others do it for them.

I like what you had to say also concerning the presidency of Obama.

"the most innovative presidency since fellow Nobel Peace Prize recipient Teddy Roosevelt represented both the GOP and the Bull Moose Party in the White House."

Dr. Candace House

Anonymous said...

I just finished your latest post and enjoyed its value.

Funny you should be writing about social media. I attended a seminar on Saturday that was about building your brand through social networking. Mitch Joel was one of the speakers and I was lucky enough to win a copy of his book Six Pixels of Separation.

Nyota Star

Anonymous said...

Great piece, Michael.

It's not about America anymore, it's all about Fear of a Black President.

Ali Hussien Lopez

Anonymous said...

I LOVE that analogy~ caught in their throat!~~~
Excellent blog post~and if you've peeked at my own about shooting the moon and our president winning the Nobel peace Prize~ you know I agree with every word completely!~

Selena

Anonymous said...

I just read your post at The Harvey Journal titled:"Of A Fire on the Moon and Obama Stuck in the Craw of the Mob."

What an outstanding peace of journalism. I'm honored to know you.

I enjoyed the entire article, however this statement caught my attention.

"Big and small town newspapers have perhaps seen their golden days. The model that will survive the Craigslist pandemic will not look anything like the daily paper dropped on the doorsteps and driveways of American families before the advent of the information superhighway. Thus an enterprising reporter has to be on the look out for opportunities to expand his or her career."

Michael I can't remember when or where I heard this interview, but the person being interviewed owned a successful small town newspaper.

He said the key to his success was to mention the names of at least 100 people in the community on a daily basis.

He said that people like to read about themselves and their neighbors. He mentioned that even the youngsters who get much of their information on the internet, still enjoy reading about their accomplishments whether in the classroom or on the sporting field, in their local newspaper.

Please pass this information on to your son. This little piece of advice might just open some doors that may seem closed.

Lloyd

Anonymous said...

Good post. I liked the Mailer reference.

Faith Dow

Anonymous said...

Excellent blog post. You really are such a great writer.


Stephanie

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading your blog post. Great insights on the mob mentality. Liked your references to Mailer's work. Thank you!

Jennie Snyder

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing such a compelling post. LOVE IT ... The Harvey Journal, Incredible post!!

Vincent Hunt

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed your blog nice read!

Rashida de Freitas

Anonymous said...

Of A Fire on the Moon and Obama Stuck in the Craw of the Mob Incredible post!!

Jan Kovitch

Anonymous said...

Your blog post, Of A Fire on the Moon," Harvey, was stupendous! That is quite a writing voice you have perfected...so erudite yet readable, looming yet friendly, like a massive spacecraft blazing into orbit! Well done!

Claudia Moss

Anonymous said...

Dr. Harvey,






Two points you made in your article I would like to comment on! First, NASA was a very important agency when the United States and John F. Kennedy was "cutting" their teeth; however with the money it takes to run that agency it should have been terminated years ago like Buick and Oldsmobile!

Second, I heard David Brooks (New York Times columnist) on NewsHour With Jim Lehrer state that President Obama should have told the Nobel Peace Prize panel he was "not worthy" and gracefully decline the award! The audacity of some of these "right wingers" is unbelievable! It's amazing that every other country in this world applaud our President's efforts while this country fights him tooth and nail on every positive initiative he attempts to implement! Very sad!

Keep up the good work Sir and I will talk with you soon!






Nickalus T. Holt

Ms Lee P said...

Hi Michael. No I haven't been ignoring you. I've just been very busy and I've only been reading articles that do not require me to think. LOL You articles always require thought. LOL

Our President did not ask for this prize. It was awarded to him and he seemed as much surprised by it as everyone else. His acceptance speech was very humble.

Ms Lee P said...

I ran out of space on th other spot. Michael, you write about life from the view of a black man who grew up in troubled times. I've never been a black man and it's difficult for me to relate to some of the things that you write about. But, I'm getting a inkling of how things were. From reading your posts.

Ms Lee P said...

Ran out of space again.

I sincerely hope that we've moved on from the past and all of us live together as people not as white vs black. I view our President as our President. He doesn't need me to defend him or his actions. Ever. I don't know what else to say. Keep writing.

Anonymous said...

Great article Michael. I agree with your interpretation of the vicious right wing attack on our President's accomplishments. Those who criticize Obama's award fail to understand that America was the most hated Nation on earth until Obama ran for office and although we still have enemies at least other nations will respect the fact that we are ... Read More willing to listen to them. God prepares a table for us in the presence of our enemies, so why do conservatives criticize a man willing to prepare a table to promote peace among our adversaries? Obama deserves the Noble Prize because for the first time since President Carter, we have a man in the white house who is not afraid to be a peace maker.

Tehran Frazier

justjera said...

I listened (I need to add this feature to my own blog.). Both my husband and I still proudly display our Obama car stickers.

About criticism of the President. There is always someone ready to pounce on any leader, even if they previously supported them. Sadly, it seems to be the way of this country.

I admire Michael Moore for still giving him support.

Anonymous said...

I honestly don't think that Obama deserved the Peace Prize, considering the trials and tribulations that other peace prize winners experienced. I am not trying to denigrate anything else Obama has accomplished, as I like him, but wish he had won the Peace Prize for a more substantial accomplishment.

Beth G.

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