2008 Presidential Election, Race and Racism
Professor Vernellia Randall
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Obama Runs a Crooked Game Print
Presidential Politics 2008 - Obama
Wednesday, 26 March 2008

 

magic_barackby BAR executive editor Glen Ford

Barack Obama specializes in rigging political games so that African Americans can’t win – that is, unless the African American is named Obama. So intent is Obama to retain his huge support among white males, the Senator constantly admonishes Blacks to avoid upsetting white men or their peculiar notions of American history. Obama calls for a “dialogue” between Blacks and whites, and then removes from discussion all items that might cause stress or loss of privilege to living whites. From Obama’s point of view, the worst conduct imaginable for a Black man is to exaggerate the effects of slavery on the captive Africans or the society that enslaved them. Should the one million Black prison inmates be subjects of Black-white dialogue? Nope – too upsetting to white folks.

Obama Plays a Crooked Game

by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

Obama ascribes all racial offenses to the past, where the only guilty white people are dead.”

Barack Obama thinks he’s a magician. Magicians have always been very popular, so it’s no mystery that millions of people are fascinated by the man, and especially that millions of African Americans are desperate to see him pull off the biggest trick of all – become president of the thoroughly racist United States of America.

Obama is smart, but his basic game plan is quite simple. Knowing full well the group most hostile to Black progress in the U.S. has always been white males, he aims to neutralize much of this demographic by assuring them an Obama presidency would be aggressively race-neutral. In practice, that means Obama ascribes all racial offenses to the past, where the only guilty white people are dead. The accumulated white wealth and privilege that is the result of hundreds of years of racist exploitation also was due to actions (crimes) of people now mostly dead. Obama forgives the dead racists, and has never expressed any intention of readjusting the ten to fifteen to one disparity in median white to Black household income. Yes, Obama knows perfectly well that wealth disparity, if not aggressively dealt with as a racial problem, will take centuries – if ever – to disappear. But Obama accepts the racial status quo as a fait accompli that can only be altered by methods that do not penalize living white people who benefited from their dead ancestors’ crimes. In practice, this means Obama would leave American race relationships frozen in time.

Obama accepts the racial status quo as a fait accompli that can only be altered by methods that do not penalize living white people.”

White men, the recipients of the most unearned privilege, wealth and power over the four centuries of English-speaking settlement (theft) in North American, therefore have nothing to fear from Barack Obama. Obama makes it quite clear that he not only considers white men’s riches to be sacrosanct, but he believes every word of the mythical origins of the white settlers who seized power from the British Crown. These men were “farmers and scholars; statesmen and patriots who had traveled across an ocean to escape tyranny and persecution finally made real their declaration of independence at a Philadelphia convention that lasted through the spring of 1787,” said Obama. No mention of slaveholders or slave traders in the bunch. By dishing out a historical narrative of race in America that omits the theft of the continent and genocide of Native Americans Obama tacitly accepts the lie that most European settlers were escaping religious persecution – a fairy tale that even children’s schoolbooks seldom tell anymore – and pretends that the whites acquired Indian lands by legal means. But what’s the point of arguing about such matters, since everyone involved – especially the Indians – is dead.

Having taken “off the table,” so to speak, almost every aspect and resource of American life that over many generations created a thoroughly racist society, Obama then encourages Americans to engage each other in mutual self-help, all the while deftly avoiding any speech that might upset whites, especially males, jealous of their privileges. “I believe deeply that we cannot solve the challenges of our time unless we solve them together – unless we perfect our union by understanding that we may have different stories, but we hold common hopes; that we may not look the same and we may not have come from the same place, but we all want to move in the same direction – towards a better future for ourchildren and our grandchildren.” What does that mean? Nothing, except that people should be nicer to each other and avoid hurting anybody’s feelings by bringing up racial privilege.

Obama encourages Americans to engage each other in mutual self-help that assiduously avoids speech that might upset whites, especially males, jealous of their privileges.”

Obama’s central message for white consumption, here, is that everybody’s story is equally compelling, whether you are the grandchild of slaves or slaveholders. This is sometimes called “moral equivalence,” and is especially favored by whites of European immigrant descent who remember how hard their fathers worked at jobs that wouldn’t hire native-born, English-speaking Blacks. But hey! Everybody’s families have had problems, right? Forgetaboutit!

Obama claims his political beliefs are based on an “unyielding faith in the decency and generosity of the American people.” Of course, he never asks white people to acknowledge, let alone give up an iota of privilege in order to even the score after all these years, so we’ll have to accept the existence of this vast reservoir of decency on faith.

Even Obama can’t deny that slavery was an evil institution – although he abhors the very idea of slave descendants making claims to present day remuneration for their dead relatives’ free labor. After all, that would tend to create unnecessary tensions that might stand in the way of the quest for change. The quest for change should be calm, quiet, cost nobody anything, and allow everyone to leave with a good feeling.

Preserving good feeling requires that Black people avoid at all cost telling the truth about the United States. Euro-Americans have an absolute right to tell bald faced lies, especially at the expense of Blacks. That’s Obama’s version of democracy – the sacred right to lie, especially about dead people.

The quest for change should be calm, quiet, cost nobody anything, and allow everyone to leave with a good feeling.”

Obama’s great friend and once-mentor Rev. Jeremiah Wright has gone beyond the pale, and represents a one-man threat to racial harmony in the United States. Rev. Wright went a lot farther than speaking out “against perceived injustice…They weren’t simply a religious leader’s effort to speak out against perceived injustice.” Oh, no. “Instead” Rev. Wright “expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country – a view that sees white racism as endemic.”

Let’s take this slowly, so as not to distort Obama’s core beliefs. He denies that racism is or has been “endemic” to American life. The MSN Encarta dictionary defines “endemic” as “characteristic of a particular place, or among a particular group, or area of interest or activity.” Since slavery was legal in every single colony that became the United States in 1776, it is safe to say that slavery was “endemic” to the original United States. Nevertheless, Obama is outraged that Rev. Wright has the nerve to “elevate what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America” – in other words, Rev. Wright is more angry about slavery than the nice things that white folks did for Blacks during and after slavery. What those nice things were, Obama doesn’t mention, so we’ll have to take that on faith, too.

Reverend Wright’s comments,” says Obama,” were not only wrong but divisive, divisive at a time when we need unity; racially charged at a time when we need to come together to solve a set of monumental problems – two wars, a terrorist threat, a falling economy, a chronic health care crisis and potentially devastating climate change; problems that are neither black or white or Latino or Asian, but rather problems that confront us all.”

It is at this point that I suspect Obama is playing stupid, but maybe he’s just too sophisticated for my limited understanding. It appears he’s saying that Rev. Wright and other Black complainers are responsible for divisions in the nation. If memory serves, it was white folk who extended Jim Crow and all manner of racial division to every aspect of American life, including the toilet bowl, but Barack Obama maintains Blacks have become the present day divisionists. Exactly what year that happened, he doesn’t say. However, this great division by Blacks has, according to Obama, interfered with “two wars, a terrorist threat, a falling economy, a chronic health care crisis and potentially devastating climate change.” Black America overwhelmingly opposed the two most recent wars; I suppose that amounts to creating divisions. Blacks haven’t blown up anything on the scale of the Oklahoma City Federal Building, but maybe our constant complaining about racism scares people into fearing we have divisive intentions. We must admit, however, that high Black unemployment and home foreclosures, as well as high infant mortality and shorter life spans, tend to clutter up the landscape with unattended Black bodies, alive and dead, a source of unnecessary divisions in society and stinking to high hell in the warming climate, for which we are also culpable. We should all thank the eloquent and wise Barack Obama for pointing out our collective failure to keep track of all these excessive, bloated Black bodies.

Rev. Wright is more angry about slavery than the nice things that white folks did for Blacks during and after slavery. What those nice things were, Obama doesn’t mention?

One has to admit, Obama worked extra hard to earn such an historically unprecedented proportion of white male votes. He admonishes us that “to wish away the resentments of white Americans, to label them as misguided or even racist, without recognizing they are grounded in legitimate concerns – this too widens the racial divide, and blocks the path to understanding.” Obama would have us cease and desist all criticism of what might appear to be racist behavior, since there always exists a small chance that a few of us might be mistaken. Such mistakes by Blacks could cause climate warming to go entirely out of control, not to mention war with China.

Quite understandably, white males appeared to love Obama’s “race” speech. No wonder. Every conceivable mode of eliminating racial disparities has been methodically taken off the table by the Illinois Senator. We are left only with an opportunity to conduct a “dialogue” about race, as long as we do so politely and without a hint of redistributive thought or intention.

Marlin Adams seems to have figured out Obama’s complicated racial diplomacy. “Barack Obama, as the Grand Mediator, is proposing a racial settlement agreement, Black folks get acknowledgment of our historical struggles, and recognition of that legacy's impact on our condition; White society, for its willingness to listen, gets a cease and desist of the criticism of America's racial past, and full allegiance to a White ethnocentric version of the future.”

So far, I have heard nothing of facilitating the release of some of the one million Black men and women held captive behind bars on any given day in America. The subject of crime – or innocence of crime – causes great stress among many white males. Therefore, the Black American Gulag, the largest on the planet, is ineligible for dialogue.

Malcolm X, in the year before he was assassinated, found himself and other Black notables under pressure to “sit-down” (rather than stand up) and have calm deliberations about what should be presented to white authorities. Sounds very much like Obama’s admonitions that Blacks and whites engage in some meaningless “dialogue.” “They’ll have you sitting in everywhere,” said Malcolm. “It’s not so good to refer to what you’re going to do as a ‘sit-in.’ An old woman can sit. An old man can sit. A chump can sit. A coward can sit. Anything can sit. Well you and I been sitting long enough, and it’s time today for us to start doing some standing, and some fighting to back that up.”

The Black American Gulag, the largest on the planet, is ineligible for dialogue.”

But then, Malcolm was not a modern Negro like Senator Obama. Neither was the great Frederick Douglass, who had little patience for idle sitters or time-wasting dialoguers. Called upon by white “friends” in Rochester to speak on the 4th of July, 1852, Douglass delivered a speech that would have caused Barack Obama some sort of seizure:

What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sound of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants brass fronted impudence; your shout of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanks-givings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy -- a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States, at this very hour.”

Clearly, Obama would conclude that Frederick Douglass specialized in unnecessary racial divisions. However, the illustrious Mr. Douglass was an efficient speaker, who did not waste words on fools, no matter how well-meaning. When whites demanded that Douglass convince them just how bad slavery was, he recoiled. “I submit, where all is plain there is nothing to be argued. What point in the anti-slavery creed would you have me argue? On what branch of the subject do the people of this country need light?”

In the same manner, what is it about pervasive racism in American life that honest people do not already understand? What does Barack Obama think is within acceptable bounds of dialogue, and what is not? Is he aware of some racial mysteries that have evaded the rest of us? To tell the truth, Obama couldn’t manage to keep his own hind parts from being singed when he tried to find some middle ground between the vicious, thieving, genocidal, slaveholding God revered by most white Americans, and the truthful Black narrative of four centuries in an American hell.

Barack Obama has literally nothing to contribute to such a conversation.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 

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