Wednesday, December 10, 2008

An Agent of Change = A Prime Target

In the United States, the concept of national security is often thought of in terms of borders, bombs, and the balance of power. Government and civic officials spend countless hours and enormous sums of money on the protection and security of the citizens of the United States of America, and rightfully so. It is not often, however, that we equate national security with the safety of one man. For many different reasons, the election of Barack Obama has incited concern about the wellbeing of the president-elect and the future of the United States. The worrisome logic is as follows: How safe can America be if we cannot ensure the safety of our Commander and Chief? If our leader is vulnerable, then aren’t we as well?

This may be true, but the government is doing the most that is humanly possible to shield Obama from any looming danger. In fact, Barack Obama has been surrounded by several Secret Service agents since May 3, 2007, the earliest any candidate has been provided this type of protection in American history. With his growing popularity and his constant exposure to the public, president-elect Obama, or Renegade, is under the constant surveillance of the security guards, police, and the Secret Service. In fact, media officials and photographers have “complained about the aggressive tactics of Mr. Obama’s protectors” claiming that [they] “flank him at every stop, making photographs difficult.” During the campaign, several people standing in chairs to take pictures of the presidential candidate were ordered to get down, because their height posed a security threat to Mr. Obama.

Even more precautionary measures were taken after Obama won the presidential election. While Obama wooed the crowd with his acceptance speech, he was shielded by bullet-proof plexiglass. Nonetheless, anxieties still abound, as 500 threats against Obama’s life have already been investigated by the Secret Service. Some of the more serious threats include a gun-toting group of men from Denver and two skinheads from Tennessee who plotted to assassinate Senator Obama and kill black children while they were at school.

Though it is true that Barack Obama does face serious dangers, are they really any different than the risks taken by any other president? An attempted assassination was made on former president Ronald Reagan, without regard to the color of his skin. Can the increased vulnerability be correlated with race, or is it something else about Obama? Of course, as the first African-American president, racism will cast a shadow on his presidency. On the day after the election,, a popular white supremacist web site added over 2,000 members. The website has currently been shut down in order to manage the overwhelming amount of activity it received after Election Day. One Stormfront representative stated, “"I want the SOB laid out in a box to see how 'messiahs' come to rest. God has abandoned us, this country is doomed." No wonder people are worried.

Speaking of God and doomsday, the infamous Westboro Baptist Church suggests another reason why Obama is different from all former presidents: he’s the Antichrist. From a recent sermon comes the quote,”Woe unto Antichrist Obama ! Woe unto his henchmen comprising his campaign team, his so-called transition team, his administration, and the doomed nation that elected him!” It is not surprising, therefore, that some fanatical people think that he needs to go, since he will ultimately destroy the world.

One final theory appears to be the most logical; people are afraid of change. Yes, Obama is black, but, more than anything, he is different. He is “The Other.” People often have a hard time accepting “agents of change,” as Obama has declared himself. Former Secret Service agent, Joseph Funk, proposes that “in the security world, anything “new” can trigger hostility.” So, even though Obama’s skin color does rub some people the wrong way, it is possible that threats and Internet chatter have more to do with the “new” element than the race factor. But race is certainly an issue. Ask the KKK.

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