When Obama first started running for President, one of my students asked me if I thought he would be assassinated if it looked like he had a chance of being elected. The student was fairly sure that there would be an attempt, if not several, on Obama.
My first thought was that assassination as a political tool in America seems to have hit its zenith in the 1960s. Since then, most attacks against political figures have been conducted by individuals with mental illnesses (like the attack of Reagan). Hence, I speculated that Obama might be the subject of an attack, but that it would most likely be of the Reagan sort rather than a calculated political assassination. Of course, I have enough cynicism to consider the possibility of that sort of assassination as well.
Sadly, it turns out that the student’s question was prophetic: two men have been arrested for planning to go on a killing spree against blacks that was to end with an attempt to kill Obama.Their initial killings were supposed to involve 14 and 88-two numbers that are important to certain white supremacists (“h” is the eighth letter in the alphabet, and 88 is supposed to stand for “heil Hitler”). In the case of 88, the plan was to attack a school and kill 88 black students. The final part of the plot is as bizarre as it is horrible: they planned to drive as fast as they could at Obama, shooting all the way-while dressed in white tuxedos and top hats.
Fortunately, the two were arrested and the charges are stacking up against them. However, this does make me wonder if there are others who are planning something similar. While the overwhelming majority of Americans would be horrified by such murderous acts, there are no doubt a few who would applaud such crimes. There are also, obviously enough, some people that would be willing to commit such terrible acts. While these people are very few in number, all it takes is one person to get within shooting range. This is a sobering and terrifying thought.
If Obama were assassinated, it would be a catastrophic event for our country and would tear at the social fabric in devastating ways. Such an event would no doubt lead people to believe that America is a viciously racist place and that the whites will not permit a black person to be President. Many people, to say the least, would react to such a terrible event with incredible anger and perhaps even violence. It would be a terrible day for America and would have an enduring impact on whites and blacks in ways that cannot be entirely foreseen but would most likely be very bad indeed.
I do worry that others are planning on trying to kill Obama. I know that law enforcement personal and the Secret Service are protecting him, but I remember seeing (on TV) Reagan getting shot. So, I worry that someone will get close with a gun. I worry for my country and what might happen. I am sure other people are worried as well. But, it is better to be guided by hope than ruled by worry and fear.