Obama, Racism and the Primary World

Bob Herbert’s column in the New York Times this morning questions whether racism in the U.S. has abated enough to elect our first black president. While I hope it has, I have a related but deeper concern.

This human race we all belong to, with all our different skin pigments, beliefs and so forth, is not the only game in town, i.e., on the planet. Think about it. All of this stuff we are eating this morning that is keeping us alive, the bread and butter and milk and coffee, comes from plants and animals, whose lives depend directly on soil, air and water.

That soil, air and water happens to be known — of all things — as the primary world. A fitting phrase to learn on Super Tuesday. The primary world is what’s holding this whole show together. Dismantle it and we all go down, all skin colors and political parties alike.

The problem is that we humans treat that soil, air and water as if it were a series of worthless, inanimate objects. (Sound like any history of racism you’ve ever read?) Global warming means the primary world is quaking under our feet. We are in danger. Things have to change fast.

While I certainly hope we’re up to electing the best president possible of any race or gender, our bigger problem is the way we’re treading on the planet. The primaries are small potatoes in the face of the primary world.


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