Seems like more than a few folks are up in arms over President Obama shaking hands with Fidel Castro‘s brother Raul. For most of us its no big deal, friend or foe when someone is in your presence, the civil thing to do is nod hello, shake hands and keep it moving.. But when it comes to heads of state, some wanna give it extra meaning…
Granted some of the manufactured outrage is via far right forces who are no fans of Obama and will look for anything to score political points. For others it symbolizes a crack in what they may have hoped to be a permanent icy relationship between the US and Cuba..For others the handshake signals a possible new direction in relations between the two countries. For some the handshake from someone who says one thing and does another its meaningless..
Lets take a step back and examine a few things..First, the world was at a memorial for a man who everyone has hyped up for his ability to forgive and break bread and find redemptive qualities with his enemies..If Mandela can make peace with the Dutch Afrikaners who did unthinkable horrors and the world is praising him at a his funeral for that deed, what the hell is wrong with folks getting all upset when gestures of acknowledgement are made? Have a freaking seat and stop crying..
If forgiveness and diplomacy are the orders of the day and that’s what everyone is pushing, then let everyone follow such dictates from top to bottom. That means the gang bangers on the street can shake hands and find other ways to settle differences. It means heads of states can find forgiveness with one another.
If folks can heap praise on forgiving the systemic and brutal horrors of Afrikaners, than those same folks can find forgiveness in those who fought them ie Winnie Mandela..Lets talk about that…
If the British Prime Minister David Cameron can show up, take selfies with Obama and the Prime Minister of Denmark and be the first to send condolences to Mandela even though 20 years ago he wanted to execute him, then he can make peace and find redemption with Robert Mugabe especially after he got a standing ovation, that no one wants to talk about..
On the other hand if we are going to play the card that a handshake with someone we don’t like or perceived as doing egregious wrongs, then let us all have a seat at the table and not allow a few disgruntled politicos like Ted Cruz be the only ones who get to say who the president gets to shake hands with and who he can’t….
I’m sure many of us in a perfect world don’t want Obama shaking hands with Wall Street bankers who bilked this country for trillions and tanked our economy..Many of us who are watching corporate powers make moves to further privatize the commons.. would like it if the president shun all of them and stop dealing with lobbyist who he said he would avoid when he ran he first ran for office..
Many of us don’t want him shaking hands with Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel who skipped Mandela’s funeral and overseas what many consider an apartheid like state when it comes to its Palestinian population and in more recent days its African immigrant population.. Plus Israel backed the Apartheid government.. How about Obama not shake hands with him or any of her leaders?
Many of us would be perfectly ok if Obama not shake the hands of Russian president Vladimir Putin especially since he pushed for the anti-gay law in his country..Many are not too keen on the crack downs he oversees when there is dissent. We already know there are forces upset that Russia gave former NSA contractor Edward Snowden asylum and are pushing for the president to hold back his hand on that tip..How about the President hold back on human rights violations?
Speaking of human rights violations, since folks are upset with the President for shaking hands with Raul Castro citing human rights concerns, would those same folks be upset if there were folks who refused to shake hands with president Obama because of his own human rights violations.. It would be great that if the President of Pakistan Mamnoon Hussain, refused to shake hands with Obama because of all the unmanned drone strikes that besiege his country..
If any head of state in Africa upset about Africom refuses to shake Obama’s hand would that be considered rude and undignified? Would it be wrong if the refuse to shake his hand in light of him leading the charge to kill President Gaddafi as the US interests took over Libya??
What about any of the heads of state from Latin American countries that have found themselves being targeted and undermined by US policies?
Would folks be up in arms if President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela or President Evo Morales of Bolivia refused to shake hands with Obama. Certainly Morales has good cause after his plane was detained for 14 hours when rumors spread that he might be housing Edward Snowden..
We did see the President of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff bite her tongue and shake President Obama’s hand even though she was majorly pissed upon discovering she her phone calls were being listened to via the NSA and Obama’s policy..
In any case the handshake has gotten folks buzzing the same way the President’s body language, his wife’s side eyed glances and him taking selfies with fellow world leaders. Some are arguing that we should not be too quick to jump to conclusions about him taking pictures and that too many people are erroneously reading into his wife, First Lady Michele Obama‘s facial expressions. We are told its trivial and pictures don’t convey all that’s really going on.. We’ll if that’s the case, maybe we are all reading too much into a handshake which is somehow deemed more important because a few Senators and some political minded folks are talking..
Maybe its just a harmless handshake, the same way a nod and smile one gives upon seeing someone. Maybe the playful selfie and side eye glances were harmless as well.. But in the event that these aforementioned gestures have deeper meaning, President Obama better watch whose hand he’s shaking and his wife should start wearing sun glasses so we cant see if she’s approving or disapproving..
Even better why don’t we lift the sanctions in Cuba find bold creative ways to engage our neighbors where its a win for the people who never get to shake any of these leaders hands.. If there were no sanctions and people were true to ideals they kept upholding about Nelson Mandela, this handshake seen around the world would be a non issue …