"Fat butt" remarks about Michelle Obama insulting
BY MIKE JONES Associate Editor
Sunday, February 10, 2013
2/10/13 at 7:32 AM
First ladies and even first families are not immune to criticism. There is nothing wrong with fair criticism. Sometimes, however, it goes over the line. This is one case.
A psychology teacher and football coach (although probably not in that order) at Lauderdale County High School in Alabama went on a rant in his classroom last week that ended in a 10-day suspension without pay, sensitivity training and the loss of teaching his class for the remainder of the year.
Bob Grisham, during a debate/discussion on current events on Jan. 27, said the school's low-calorie lunch menu could be blamed on "fat butt Michelle Obama." "Look at her," he said to the class, "she looks like she weighs 185 or 190. She's overweight."
Grisham couldn't stop there. He also had to throw in an insult to homosexuals. "I don't like queers," he said. "I don't hate them as a person, but what they do is wrong and an abomination against God."
Unfortunately for the coach/teacher, his comments were being recorded by a student. Once caught, the coach/teacher told the Florence Alabama Times Daily that he had misspoke.
Ya think? I'm skeptical. Did he misspeak or is he simply trying to extricate himself from a situation in which he said what he really believes and got caught? My money's on No. 2.
First ladies have been criticized before. Nancy Reagan was called an elitist who spent far too much money on White House shindigs and gowns and was criticized for being too detached. Then, in her husband's second term, she was rapped for getting too involved in affairs of the presidency.
Barbara Bush, when she wasn't first lady, was lambasted by then vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin for blurting out the truth when she said that Palin ought to stay in Alaska. Palin said that Bush was one of the "blue bloods" who had caused much of the economic woes the country had. Barbara Bush also got a smidgen of criticism for ghost-writing her dog's book while in the White House. The book, by the way, made a lot of money for charity.
I don't need to rehash the attacks on Hillary Clinton as first lady.
Laura Bush remained all but unscathed by criticism. She was, as was her mother-in-law, a pretty classy first lady who supported important causes and stood by her man.
The attack (it's more than mere criticism) on Michelle Obama has been lurking since the campaign. I first heard and saw such rumblings in some of our comments, emails and phone calls, where the mention of the first lady's derriÃ¨re started to pop up. At the time, I dismissed it. I put it in the same category as the "birthers." It persisted.
We can thank Rush Limbaugh - a guy who is likely pretty worried about the loss of Twinkies and Ho Hos - for much of the tasteless onslaught. He refers to Obama as Michelle "My Butt" Obama. Wow, the use of third-grade humor is just so impressive. Those who tend to parrot anything he says picked up the mention of her posterior. Hey, all the kids on the playground are saying it.
In 2011, U.S. Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., said about the first lady: "She lectures us on eating right while she has a large posterior herself." He, also, after realizing that his conversation had been recorded, apologized. It, too, was a hollow apology. Sensenbrenner, by the way, hasn't missed too many meals with the lobbyists.
Again, I'm not condemning anyone who fairly criticizes this first lady or any first lady. They have put themselves in the fishbowl and they must expect it to be a difficult gig. And I understand the struggle with weight control.
I believe, however, that this is more than simple criticism of the job Obama does or the money she spends or the gowns she wears. I believe that there is a not so subtle undercurrent in this childish name-calling game.
You don't have to listen to too much hip-hop music to realize that the African-Americans recognize the size of butts. They can and they do.
So, given the history of the slave trade and the selling point of an African woman being of good breeding stock, I have my own ideas why some people find it easy to allude to the backside of the first lady. It's more acceptable than flat-out saying the "n" word. It's the same for those who refer to the president as "the Kenyan."
Don't accuse me of "playing the race card." It's a fact. I have, with my own ears, heard in this century people say "Martin Luther Koon." It's out there, so don't get huffy and offended when someone points it out.
Michelle Obama, in my opinion, is smart, pretty, hard-working, a good parent, a good American, a good wife and a darn good first lady.
She's 5'11" and looks great. There are men I know, including me, who would kill for those biceps. The White House is mum about her actual weight. Who cares?
And remember this, she is 49 years old. All women or men who want to look that good, big butt or not, when they are 49, raise your hand. Yeah, I thought so.
Original Print Headline: Butt out
Mike Jones, 918-581-8332
President Barack Obama dances with first lady Michelle Obama during The Inaugural Ball at the Washington convention center during the 57th Presidential Inauguration in Washington on Jan. 21. CLIFF OWEN/Associated Press