Walter Rhett

The Voices in the Voice Mail

In Living on October 20, 2010 at 12:46 am

Frozen in time, the cold call and voice message represent a merging of public and private views. As Mrs. Thomas’ public role and voice has increased, as she has skirted the potential conflict between her political action and a Supreme Court judge’s arms-length disinterest, her own personal calculus redefined an old limit and broke through on an issue she has obviously harbored and seethed over for decades. She is the silent, suffering wife, stoic in the face of – as she sees it – vindictive actions against her husband by another, rival, even evil, woman. And never forgiving or letting go, you mess with my man, you mess with me.
The silent trigger – a stretch for some to consider – is Obama and his family. His views so different from hers, her husband’s, yet his family and wife so charmed, so free of scandal and rancor, so embraced by large crowds, so loved, as she has had to endure ridicule and attitudes of paternalism, a silent, unshakeable mocking that despite her husband’s high position, he is seen by many as damaged goods.
Yet the Obamas are so wrong, as she sees it, on all the great issues of the time. How can they be so personally revered? While the Thomas’ live with a historic stain?

So, in shades of Jerry Springer, she picks up the phone and makes the call, instructing the witch who tainted her family’s legacy to set things right. Apologize. Pray about it. And I will not reject you (how humble!). I will accept it. Just make things right.
Culture, the hidden embedded forces of our time, are at the center of this incident; the once bizarre, is now cavalier and causal: routine. We link on Facebook. We watch old video clips like we once viewed family scrapbooks. We see Megan disagree with her daddy, we read Palin messages, we replay comments about Senator’s hair, we tell Latino children they look Asian, we blame Canada for open borders, the culture of social media has blurred the lines of personal and private and public. Commenters like me analyze your personal demons.

In fact, who released the voice mail message? In this bizarre incident, the motivations of Mrs. Thomas triggered the event, but are not entirely to blame for the public spill over.

Delta Children, 1938. Dorothea Lange photo.


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