Do you remember the news back in April of last year, when President Obama met with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, not once but twice, at the meeting of the Union of South American Nations?
You probably don’t, so I will remind you.
Obama has come face to face with leftist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, one of Washington’s fiercest critics, twice so far at the Summit of the Americas. According to a senior official, when the two men were lining up for the ceremonial entrance last night, Obama strode over to Chavez and introduced himself. Chavez reportedly told Obama he hoped for a new start to relations between the two countries, an account the U.S. official did not dispute. According to the official, Obama smiled and returned to his place in the line. Later that night Obama joked to reporters that he’d said “Como estas?”
This morning, at the beginning of a meeting of the Union of South American Nations, Chavez gave Obama a book: “Las Venas Abietas de America Latina” or “The Open Veins of Latin America”, a scholarly text that analyzes Latin America’s dependence on the north. The media friendly Chavez waited until the press had been allowed into the room for a photo opportunity before gifting the book, which Obama accepted.
Do you remember the photo op that went with that second meeting?
So why am I reminding you of something that occurred ten months ago? It’s simple, really.
I think it’s important to remember who our President chooses to surround himself with, and more importantly, who he chooses to be seen with.
The two photos of President Obama greeting Hugo Chavez are unscripted. They are candid shots taken by photographers at the event who captured that historic moment in time when the leader of the free world met one of the world’s most vicious dictators and smiled while doing so.
Now, fast forward to this week.
The only photograph of President Obama meeting with the Dalai Lama was taken by a White House photographer. Independent media was not allowed to cover the event. The President of the United States was so worried about offending China that he met privately with the Dalai Lama and released an “official” photo which depicts President Obama with a stern face and the Dalai Lama looking a bit shocked, or something.
It’s clear that the Obama administration staged this photo opportunity so they could whitewash the meeting with the Dalai Lama and save face with China. Articles from the media reveal the real reason that independent photographers were not allowed to record the meeting.
The sensitivity comes for fear of offending China which, as the Associated Press notes, now holds nearly $800 billion in U.S. federal debt. And for fear of reprisals in other areas by the rising Asian superpower. (Gee, what if China used lead in its paints?)
China sees the Dalai Lama as a separatist seeking to overthrow the sovereignty that China imposed militarily in 1950. Well, no one said it had to make sense. The Dalai Lama fled in 1959 after a failed revolt and lives in India now.
If meeting with the Dalai Lama in private without independent media covering the event wasn’t bad enough, just wait til you see what happened next. You see, when President Obama met with Hugo Chavez at the meeting of the Union of South American Nations, they were both allowed to use the front door while entering and exiting. The same cannot be said about the Dalai Lama.
I thought President Obama promised us hope and change. I thought this was the 21st Century. Since when do we, the American people, usher guests in and out of the back door at America’s House?
Didn’t Rosa Parks refuse to give up her seat on a bus so this type of thing wouldn’t happen again? Wasn’t Medgar Evers sacrifice enough? He believed that everyone was indeed created equal.
No one should be ushered out through the back door of the White House, for any reason, let alone to save face with a country that wouldn’t know civil rights if it came crashing through their window tied to a brick.
February is Black History Month here in the United States, which is good timing, because it’s clear to me that our own President needs a bit of a refresher course. If anyone in the White House should understand the significance of ushering people out the back door, it’s our current President.
It’s time to change, Mr. President. This is no time to be yellow.