Since before Barack Obama took office there’s been a movement to name schools after him. Even after his disastrous presidency, that movement has pressed forward, hoping to plaster his name on anything possible while turning a blind eye to the man’s real presidential legacy. Last year a portion of a highway in California was renamed after him, for crying out loud.
Unfortunately, the insanity continues. An activist in Greenville, South Carolina, has launched a petition to rename a local road after Barack Obama. The road is currently named after Confederate general and former Governor Wade Hampton. According to activist Bruce Wilson, the current name of the road “goes against the values of the new South.”
And Barack Obama does represent the values of the South? Since when? In which universe? The South has been solidly Republican since the 1990s.
“Society dictates, and the New South demands the extrication of white supremacy and as such it would be fitting to rename ‘Wade Hampton Blvd’ after this nations First African American President ‘Barack Obama,’ ” the petition reads.
The petition also argues that the new name would inspire children and the community instead of upholding the history of “white supremacy.”
“Through this physical signage, every child that passes by; regardless [of] race can see and relate that ‘No dream is too far fetched!’ ” the petition says.
“Through the history of the City, there have been numerous streets named after historical figures; but i [sic] cannot think of a single [individual] more deserving that President Barack Hussein Obama,” the document continues.
I can’t think of an individual less deserving than Barack Obama. I still maintain that Barack Obama was the worst president for African-Americans since Lyndon B. Johnson. Obama’s “positive” impact on African-Americans, being the first black president, is merely symbolic. African-Americans suffered greatly during his presidency. It took Donald Trump’s economy to see black unemployment reach historic lows. Maybe the street should be named after him. As the first black president, Barack Obama was in a unique position to unify the country on racial grounds, but instead, he drove a wedge between white and black America. He repeatedly called policies he didn’t agree with racist. He repeatedly accused police offers of being racist. He repeatedly accused his political opponents of being racist. If there was an issue that could be racialized, Obama did so. His election may have been seen as a turning point for race relations in the United States, but in reality, it was a huge step back. America, under Obama, became more racially divided, and according to Gallup, the number of Americans who worried “a great deal” about race relations in the United States doubled between 2014 and 2016.
If you can’t think of a better person to honor than Barack Obama to “inspire children and the community,” then the problem is you aren’t actually looking. A much better option would be Senator Tim Scott, the first African-American senator from the state of South Carolina, the first African-American senator to be elected from the southern United States since 1881. You want a better, more inspiring symbol of how the South has changed, you got one in Senator Scott.
Barack Obama has more than his fair share of undeserved accolades. Don’t give him any more.
Matt Margolis is the author of The Scandalous Presidency of Barack Obama and the bestselling The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. His new book, Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy, will be published in July 2019. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis