10/08/2012 12:12 EDT | Updated 12/07/2012 05:12 EST

What Obama and David Suzuki Have in Common


Like a bull to a matador, Mitt Romney time and again attacked a stoic President Obama during the first debate Thursday night.

Obama's supporters' collective palpable frustration came out of our human nature to love a good knock-down-drag-out fight a.k.a. the Ali/Frazier Thrilla in Manila. In this age, turning the left cheek will get you nothing but a smack down in the media and in the court of public opinion -- one of mega proportions as it turns out.

The one who originated the expression fared no better. When attackers demanded Christ defend Himself, He gave them even shorter-worded answers than Obama gave Romney or the "moderater."

How would you rate these for a non-verbose defense when questioned?

"So you say." - Luke 23:3"

"You have said it yourself." - Math. 26:25

And of course it started with His mother of all non-verbal response advice: "Whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also." (Matt 5:39)

Thank you Jesus! Now when I feel like slapping someone I slap myself first.

All these thoughts played havoc with my brain cells as I watched Romney time and again gore Obama. So much so, that the debate triggered flashbacks for me to February 8, 1989. Let me explain.

That night, decades ago, another battle that then appeared to be of epic importance and received international attention played out in my adopted home town of London, Canada.

That David v.s. Goliath battle took the form of a televised debate at Western University between Western Ontario psychology professor Philippe Rushton and Canadian academic, science broadcaster and environmental activist David Suzuki on their positions on race and intelligence and the credibility of the theory that there are mental differences between races.

Rushton, (who coincidentally died of cancer on October 2 at Victoria Hospital, London, may he rest in peace) is remembered as a somewhat aloof, somewhat arrogant Clark Kent look-a-like; David Suzuki, a Canadian icon.

I recall the build-up to that big event as if it were yesterday. Everybody I knew watched it and debated the results.

Guess who they were pissed off at during and after the debate? The controversial, loopy Rushton who stoicly defended his studies? Nope. The brilliant Suzuki who showed up with the attitude, "Why would I debate this man's ludicrous work let alone its results? It speaks for itself!"

We wanted Suzuki to smack down Rushton who many labelled "racist" for his testing racial groups for comparisons in intelligence.

Before that debate, many might have acknowledged racism as a problem somewhere else in Canada -- okay, let's be honest -- any country but Canada.

After all London was home through the 80s and early 90s to Panorama, a great multicultural celebration/festival.

Rushton was stripped of his right to use Western students as research subjects after distributing unauthorized questionnaires. He was even reprimanded for paying 50 Asians, 50 whites and 50 blacks $5 each to answer a questionnaire on their sexual habits.

Personally, back then, I wished that Rushton would have done test comparisons among my gay friends and I: me, Caucasian, and of my best friends then one was African-Canadian, another Oriental. Considering Rushton was famous for testing brain and penis sizes, sexual performance and even how far student subjects could ejaculate, we used to joke about the possible results. If I recall correctly, my friends said they would have paid him to test them.

Seriously, both of my friends couldn't have cared less about Rushton or his tests but I did. My friends were so ingrained in the Western culture that they didn't feel they experienced outright prejudice. Yet both were overachievers in competition with what they felt was an unspoken, to quote them, "obvious white superiority mentality."

That was how they felt based on their experience. Never hurt my feelings as we felt the common bond that united us was the belief system that the three of us and all of humanity originated from one family.

But I saw how racists could misinterpret and use Rushton's "findings." Why, one of his racial theories suggested that Asians were less susceptible to AIDS than blacks and whites. That nabbed him an invitation from the government of China to speak at conferences!

All of that didn't matter in 1989. Rushton calmly presented his point of view and Suzuki was accused of not challenging him, of arrogance, of a dismissal attitude.

Guess who the public thought won the debate? Definitely not Suzuki. Did not fighting make the accuser right? Did it in any way make Suzuki's scientific stance wrong?

Rushton continued his work for a time but after an immediate media explosion (even appearing on American talk shows) he disappeared from the public's radar.

And Suzuki? He was professor in the genetics department at the University of British Columbia until his retirement in 2001. He is best known as host of the popular and long-running CBC Television science magazine, The Nature of Things, seen in over 40 nations. He co-founded the David Suzuki Foundation in 1990. He even was awarded The Order of Canada, a fellowship that recognizes the achievement of outstanding merit or distinguished service by Canadians who made a major difference to Canada through lifelong contributions in every field of endeavour.

Too much is made of any single debate. Sure I wanted Obama to sucker punch Romney but if that performance by Romney is presidential, well, I'm sure some of the past Republican presidents were spinning in their grave. If this were reversed and Obama performed like Romney did, I'd be embarrassed for Obama.

For after four weeks of listening to so many different Romneys, my head was spinning watching Romney's ventriloquist working overtime. It reminded me of Jeff Dunham's show I saw live. Someone on the stage always had a hand up his butt and the other was a low-key, even-headed straight man. Man or puppet -- that is the choice.

I think the debates point out our weaknesses as much as the debaters themselves. Personally, my enjoyment of a good fight -- one sided knockouts are never as much fun. We all agree Romney trampled the matador in round one. But in the end, you know what happens to a bull more often than not.