Thursday, March 29, 2012

Bobby Rush Goes Symbolic

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

The piece that I posted yesterday on symbols was just a bit premature because not too many hours later a congressman, Rep. Bobby Rush of Illinois, who also happens to be a black American, created quite a stir in the U.S. House of Representatives with an audacious burst of symbolism.

There are times in the House when Members may rise and speak on any topic for one minute.  Representative Rush was using his one minute of fame yesterday when he suddenly pulled off his suit jacket and revealed that he was also wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt (commonly called a "hoodie") beneath his more appropriate attire.  The congressman then pulled the hood up onto his head, donned a pair of shades (sunglasses), and proceeded to talk on the subject of racial profiling - highlighting how the real hoodlums in America are often clad in business suits and run criminal activities known as banks and corporations.

The guardian of decency who was in charge of the House chamber at that time was Rep. Gregg Harper, a Republican from Mississippi, and he did not take well to the sudden appearance of a terrorist right in the midst of that august body.  Mr. Harper, some of whose constituents who have probably worn more than a few hoods in their day, started yelling for the House Sergeant-at-Arms to get down there and enforce the no hood hat rule.  Rep. Rush continued to talk, and Rep. Harper continued to try to yell over him - until someone from the Sergeant-at-Arms' office finally got to the center of the commotion and led the uppity congressman away.

It was a good thing that all of this happened while Orange John Boehner was away from the Speaker's podium, because not only would he have gone nuts too, he would have also cried while he was yelling!

So Rep. Rush made his point.  A black man wearing a hoodie is symbolic of something bad - and an easy target for John Law (or some stupid vigilante) to drag off or kill.

Bobby Rush is my elder - by two years -  and I respect him greatly!

(Congressman Rush is a former officer in the Illinois Chapter of the Black Panthers and has served time in prison.  He later had a severe change-of-life when he became a born-again Christian.  In 1999 his 29-year-old son, Huey, was gunned down and killed by robbers in front of his home in Chicago.  In 2000, Rush defeated a young Illinois state senator by the name of Barack Obama in a primary election for the House of Representatives seat which he now holds.  Rush beat Obama by a more than 2-1 margin.)

1 comment:

Xobekim said...

We know that political speech encompasses symbolic speech. We know that political speech is one of the highest forms of speech protected by the First Amendment.

Isn't it odd that on the floor of the House of Representatives political speeech is prohibited?