Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Call Me a Snob

Negativity is always present in politics, it is a given, something that we expect and something that even the best and most well intentioned politicians fall prey to at one time or another. So usually when it steadily increases throughout a campaign, I am not surprised nor taken aback by what politicians say. This year that is different. I was prepared for the Republican debates to make me a little angry, just as the democratic debates did last year; however I was not prepared for the rhetoric to cut so deeply. I usually am able to shirk away the rhetoric knowing that a candidate is just vying for votes, but this season there have been a few statements that I was not able to simply shake off because they cut so deeply at what so many of us have worked to squash. Most recently Senator Rick Santorum made a statement about higher education that stopped me dead in my tracks and made me literally sick to my stomach. Our President, like many of us fought our way into higher education. We were unknown, or from small towns, or had single parents, and little money; and education was our ticket to open the locked doors of the upper echelons of society and scholarship. So when our President said that he wants everyone in our country to seek a form of higher education, he said it from a well intentioned place. He said it because he knows the difference an education can make in a person’s life and their community. He did not say it because he was a snob, as Senator Santorum contended. He said it because many of us have relatives just a few generations ago who would have been beaten or even killed if someone discovered that they even knew how to read. He said it because education was dangled above our heads, like a key to the prison we were locked in. As it stands, prisons use the reading skills of seven year olds to determine just how full their prisons will be; proving just how important an education is determining a life path. For those that were able to reach high enough, they set themselves free from years of sharecropping or migrant farm work. They made the difference in ensuring that their children, and grandchildren would not live the life they did.
And now Senator Santorum wants to calls us snobs for simply wanting to reach higher than many of us were told we could. Although he rails specifically against black people for being on food stamps and welfare, assuming we would not rather have a pay check; he is fighting against the very thing that would lift many above food stamps. He is fighting against the education that lifted his own family from immigrants to doctors and professionals. (It should be noted that Senator Santorum holds a J.D., MBA, and a Bachelors degree, and his wife has a nursing degree and a J.D.)
This is a dangerous discourse Senator Santorum, one that starts with anger and leads to hate. You are sowing seeds of anger that are all too similar to the seeds that were sown when we were fighting against a separate but equal that was not at all equal. The same type of anger that caused the national guard to be called in to integrate schools. The same anger that throws affirmative action into the face of any person of color seeking an education. You plant those seeds Senator Santorum when you point at a well education man of color, our President, and call him a snob for wanting others to succeed in the same fashion that he has.
Well call me a snob all you want Mr. Santorum, because I still want our nation to strive, to be educated, to be contenders in the growing economy. Call me a snob all you want Senator Santorum because I do want to end up like our President.

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