Freedom Rider: Why We
Write About Obama
used racist, conservative code words from the GOP play
Black Agenda Report is "a journal of African American
political thought and action." Those words mean nothing
unless we are willing to think and act in ways that the
corporate media are not. Even black Americans are
susceptible to the influences of a system whose
existence depends on telling lies and having them
accepted as truth. If that were not the case, BAR
wouldn't need to exist.
When anyone is praised on these pages it is because
their actions warrant praise. If members of the
Congressional Black Caucus stand up for the Constitution
and demand impeachment hearings they are praised. If
they sell out to corporate interests and allow Fox News
to control the CBC Institute, they are condemned.
This site is not called Be Nice to Prominent Black
People Report. Obama supporters in particular should
keep this fact in mind. Recently many of them have taken
BAR to task for critical coverage of his campaign.
dangers presented by an Obama presidency are becoming
clearer every day."
In the week before the Nevada caucuses Barack Obama
responded to our critics for us. If the stakes were not
so high, we might exult in saying, "We told you so." The
dangers presented by an Obama presidency are becoming
clearer every day, and that is no reason for
In an editorial board meeting with the Reno
Gazette-Journal, Obama said
the following about Ronald Reagan:
"I do think that for example the 1980 election was
different. I think Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory
of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not and in a
way that Bill Clinton did not. He put us on a
fundamentally different path because the country was
ready for it. I think they felt like with all the
excesses of the 1960s and 1970s and government had grown
and grown but there wasn't much sense of accountability
in terms of how it was operating. I think people, he
just tapped into what people were already feeling, which
was we want clarity we want optimism, we want a return
to that sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that had
Not only did Obama praise Reagan, but he used racist,
conservative code words from the GOP play book to do it.
Obama's supporters should be the first to ask him what
he believes to be the "excesses of the 60s and
70s." Does he think the Voting Rights Act was an excess?
What about the Civil Rights Act? Were the protests
against the Vietnam War excessive? What about Fair
Housing legislation, was it all too much for the
Republic to handle? Was abortion legalization an
does Obama believe to be the 'excesses of the 60s and
Obama's very vocal fans should speak up. Their
candidate is praising the right wing rollback of civil
rights. Do they think the 60s and 70s were full of
excess? If so, what were those excesses? If they don't
agree with Obama, will they say so? What does this
statement portend for the policies of an Obama
administration? It is past time for the love fest to
end, and hard questioning to begin.
If Hillary Clinton or John Edwards uttered those same
words they would be quite rightly taken to task. At his
worst, in the nadir of his Sister Souljah moment, Bill
Clinton did not dare to make such statements. Even Slick
Willie was not slick enough to think he could praise
Ronald Reagan and still get votes from black people.
High praise for Reagan was not the end of Obama's
slide into right wing demagoguery. "I think it's fair to
say that the Republicans were the
party of ideas for a pretty long chunk of time there
over the last 10-15 years in the sense that they were
challenging conventional wisdom." One day Obama
channels Ronald Reagan, the next he channels Newt
Gingrich. It is too frightening to ask how much lower he
Obama calculates that he can get away with anything
and still be supported by most black people.
Unfortunately, at this moment he is correct. Race pride
based on symbolism has become the order of the day
though it is clearly no substitute for a principled
What does Obama have to say or do before his
supporters call him out? If they believe that the warm
and fuzzy feeling brought on by a black president is
reason enough to support Obama, they should say so. They
won't have to defend him and BAR can stick to the
business of political analysis. Currently the criticisms
directed at BAR are based on annoyance that we brought a
skunk to the party, and not on any reasoned arguments.
day Obama channels Ronald Reagan, the next he channels
Black Agenda Report will continue to live up to its
standards we have set for ourselves. Hillary Clinton
and Obama are political twins, candidates bought off by
corporate interests, ready to defend the American empire
by killing people in far away places or tossing black
people and the rest of the Democratic base under a bus
if they think it is expedient to do so. BAR will closely
scrutinize both of them during this primary season.
A presidential election year is always difficult. The
Democratic party is run by people who don't want it to
be a political party at all. They actively search for
ways to squelch activism and deny victory to Democrats
who are unafraid to be Democrats. The game is rigged
against true democracy, forcing us to make difficult
choices and compromises instead of working for what we
really want. These contradictions will not be easier to
deal with if Barack Obama supporters continue to give
him a free political ride.
We at BAR enjoy debating views that are passionately
held. We won't take pleasure in seeing black America end
up with a bad case of buyer's remorse. Passive support
for Barack Obama can only lead in that direction, but
rest assured of one thing. Our next president, whoever
that turns out to be, will always be under the Black
Agenda Report microscope.
Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR. Ms.
Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via
e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgandaReport.Com.
Ms. Kimberley' maintains an edifying and frequently
updated blog at freedomrider.blogspot.com.
More of her work is also available at her Black Agenda