Monday, June 23, 2008

Obama's Politics of Racial Animosity

In Obama's latest campaign ad directed toward white voters (he already has the Black vote), he says of his grandfather ("never saw combat") and grandmother ("typical white person") and mother (whose race he began to keep secret): "They taught me values straight out of the Kansas [i.e., almost all white] heartland." That was the heartland presumably where, in his words, "the farm boys stank like pigs." C'mon Barack, tell us how you really feel -- or do we have to rely on Michelle for that?

Barack Obama uses this picture in his campaign commercials, identifying the two relatives as "my white grandparents." In commercials and speeches, he identifies them as mildly heroic figures ("fought in Patton's Army . . . worked in a bomb assembly plant"). In his book Dreams From My Father, he characterizes them as clueless white bumpkins.

"My friends, we live in the greatest nation in the history of the world. I hope you'll join me as we try to change it." (Barack Obama)

"I ceased to advertise my mother’s race at the age of twelve or thirteen, when I began to suspect that by doing so I was ingratiating myself to whites." (Barack Obama)

"I found solace [as a young man] in nursing a pervasive sense of grievance and animosity against my mother’s race." Barack Obama

"I learned to slip back and forth between my black and white worlds. One of those tricks I had learned: [White] People were satisfied so long as you were courteous and smiled and made no sudden moves." Barack Obama

Could a candidate like John McCain (or Hillary Clinton? or any white candidate?) get away with comments like these? The national media, which sees its function as waving pom-poms anytime they hear Obama's baritone, cuts the Illinois Senator an endless amount of slack.

They do so mainly because he identifies himself (sometimes) as a Black man. Most journalists know they're expected to show deference toward Black politicians -- unless, of course, they happen to be Republicans.

David Axelrod, Obama's campaign manager, is celebrated by the the national media as a man of organizational genius. In fact, he's become legendary in Illinois and nationally for shamelessly using the race card to gain political advantage. In his crazy-quilt world, if you oppose one of his Black candidates, you must be a racist.
Candidate Obama himself -- a product of a Black African father and a White American mother -- uses race regularly when it helps his cause. In his current commercials -- directed toward white voters in states like Pennsylvania and Ohio -- Obama shows a picture of himself as a young man with his white grandparents.
These are the same grandparents he makes fun of his first autobiography (he has two), Dreams From My Father. In commercials and campaign speeches, he salutes the grandfather as a man who "served in Patton's army."
In Dreams, however, he dismisses grandpa as "someone who never saw combat." His grandmother -- now 85 and appearing in at least one commercial to help establish Obama's Caucasian roots -- he slurs in the book as "a typical white person."
When the grandmother was accosted by a large Black man demanding money, Obama acts as if it were her fault.That's the same grandmother he referred to in his Philadelphia speech on "race," surely one of the emptiest political statements made in our lifetime.
He implied at the time that his grandmother had been perhaps as racially insensitive as the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. He said he could no more "disown" the race-baiting, America-hating preacher than he could his "own grandmother."Later, of course, he did disown Wright for "disrespecting" him -- Obama! Somehow the disrespect (actually, hatred) the preacher showed for people like his grandparents and mother didn't seem to bother Obama.
What's more, the disrespect Wright showed for the nation and for Senator Clinton apparently didn't matter. In the current commercial -- the one aimed at white people who voted mainly for Hillary -- he talks about what a "loving" family his grandparents and (Caucasian) mother were. Apparently, he wants to have it both ways.
Obama won the Democratic primaries in states like South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, North Carolina, Mississippi, and Louisiana mainly because he was Black. In those states, large proportions of the Democratic electorate are African-American, and Obama got roughly 85%-90% of their votes. That happened even though Mrs. Clinton has a long record of championing Black causes.
When Geraldine Ferraro raised such facts, she was maligned by Obama's surrogates and his media sycophants as a racist. Her reputation as a civil-rights champion was ignored. Her reputation remains in tatters.
Now that Obama has the nation's Black vote in his pocket, he's becoming -- at least metaphorically -- a lot "whiter." The comic, supposedly insensitive grandparents re-emerge as symbols of his connections to the white world.
His previously volatile wife, Michelle, who wasn't proud of her country, has now re-surfaced as a Black version of Laura Bush. The next time we see her on TV this formerly militant Black woman probably will be baking cookies.
At the same time, Obama's online wrecking crew is going around calling McCain supporters racist. After all, what reasons other than race could they (we) have for not supporting "St. Barack?"On Clintons4McCain, an organization I've urged all McCain supporters to join, Cristi Adkins, one of the founders, talks today about the charges against her organization.
Here's what Cristi, a true heroine of political decency, says:"[At Clintons4McCain] we're . . . getting emails asserting that the only reason anyone WOULD vote for McCain is because they're racist. . . . [Such] questions/statements have the same source -- blind partisanship and built in excuse-making and blame-shifting. Both assume simple motives, and both assume everyone's a puppet, parrot-robot like the writers of these emails."
This is not going to be a "fun" campaign. Obama and his minions are going to do more than play the "race card." They're going to throw at opponents every card in the deck. As they did with Hillary Clinton in the primary, they'll going to hurl great loads of mud at McCain and his supporters.
Meanwhile, Obama will continue to be either White -- or Black -- or a mixture of the two -- depending on his immediate political goals. It's a disgusting show, but we'd better learn to live with it until November 4.
(Note: my definition of racism? "Stereotyping members of one or more races in order to denigrate them." I'd love to hear the Obamas' definition.)

No comments: