Obama & the Race-Card

For his speech in Philadelphia on 18 March, Barack Obama chose the subject of race, a high-decibel noise-maker that most people, white and black, have had quite enough of for decades. If he was trying to neutralize the well-documented anti-American remarks of his pastor, Jeremiah Wright, recently resigned from Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, he chose the wrong approach. His speech should have been about hate, the quite obvious motivation behind Wright's outrageous charges, such as that this country is ruled by rich white folk and that the U.S. government invented HIV/AIDS in order spread it around in order to arrange a holocaust of people of color.

Speaking of a "stained Constitution," he went to some pain to dredge up the existence of slavery, as if anything more needs to be said about something studied by every schoolchild for scores of years, but which black preachers of the ilk of Wright, Jesse Jackson, and Al Sharpton insist upon using to try to lay a guilt trip on white people for something more than 140 years in the past and for which no living American for scores of years has borne any responsibility. In other words, Obama played the race-card, thinking he was somehow unifying the electorate when actually he was making it more divided than ever.

Amazingly, he attempted to explain why Wright and other older African Americans might feel the animosity which drives some of them, never mind that Wright, as well as Obama, has had all the best of what can be achieved in this country by those who work for it. One remembers the time when Bill Moyers allowed Mansour Farhang, a California professor, to use two entire programs in his PBS series in 1979 to help Americans "understand" why the Iranian government kidnapped the hostages, 52 of whom they held for 14 months.

Both efforts wallowed in irrelevance, especially Obama's, since these "old guys" have been around long enough to see actual CHANGE, Obama's slogan, and get over it. Anything Moyers, also a member of a United Church of Christ congregation, does or did is not surprising, no matter how far out.

For two entire generations plus, this government has tried to redress grievances, real or imagined, of African Americans. Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy used troops to enforce integration in education in 1957 at Little Rock and in 1963 at Tuscaloosa and other Alabama school districts, respectively. Wide-ranging civil-rights laws were passed in the early 60s, and rights for everything from voting to affirmative action (quotas) were enacted so that blacks would have an even chance to be successful in the society. Today's white population, whose ancestors died by the tens of thousands erasing slavery, is fed-up with this claptrap, and Obama jerked all the wrong chains with this speech.

His religion angle took the form of the cliché that the most segregated hour in the week is at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday morning. He also described the services in most African American churches as full of shouting, screaming, clapping, physical activity, and bawdy humor in the pulpit, but seems not to understand that most white people would be repelled by that sort of "worship," not to mention the extended length of the services. People tend to congregate in like-minded groups, and race has nothing to do with it. Expecting white people to go to Trinity at 11:00 a.m. to listen to Jeremiah Wright screech over and over that God should damn America, as he is well-documented doing, is a bit much, anyway.

Obama reached his nadir when he dragged his grandmother, who is white and a successful businesswoman, into his speech, literally calling her a racist because of some things she had said, when she, at age 84, is part of the generation whose motivations he tried to ameliorate in the case of old-timer Wright, who is only 66. Rather than trying to explain her background, he used her whiteness in this intimate way to further play the race card…inexcusable and profoundly insensitive.

Obama's speech was a definite plus for Senator McCain, compared to whom he came off as merely whining. He didn't explain McCain's background, either, in condemning the Iraq War, which McCain has supported. After all, McCain should be explained since he belongs to that "old" crowd at age 71, and underwent torture for more than five years at the hands of ruthless communists (now exemplified in the Muslim jihad-crowd) and surely should be given some slack for daring to suggest that fire must be met with fire. Obama is on another planet with respect to the world situation and the dangers this country faces.

Too bad! Obama would have been better served to have at least picked another subject, since he felt he had to say something. Actually, he should have held just another press conference and let the chips fall where they may. That would have been tough, though, even with the mainstream media solidly in his corner. It's much easier to speak with no debate and use the usual bromides and shibboleths about "togetherness" and other such warm/cozies. He's a good speaker, but at least the average John Doe's, when they think it over, will see it for just what it was…mush.

Ironically, while highly respected black leaders like Bill Cosby, Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, and Shelby Steele are relentlessly calling for an attitude of self-reliance in the black community, Obama is pandering to the "victimhood" crowd. A divider instead of unifier, he just doesn't get it, and certainly is not ready to be president, but he plays well with the university crowd…the intellectual know-it-alls.