Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Obama: A Great Black Victory?

Barack Obama’s victory has resulted in a lot of poorly reasoned commentary. There are many who, on the strength of two bad elections, declare the Republican party extinct and conservatism dead. Then there are those who declare that Obama’s 52-46 win (with every possible political wind behind him) a resounding mandate for Obama’s liberal policies. And there is a great deal of overblown praise of Obama’s seemingly limitless political savvy and leadership strength. But unquestionably, the most annoying meme is the idea that America has now, with Obama’s win, officially transcended racial divisions. This idea manages to be both obviously wrong and nauseatingly conceited.

Proponents of this view, which is found on both the left and right, see America’s acceptance of Barack Obama as a sign that we have finally moved past race, and that doing so is a major historical event and a convincing sign of American virtue. Norah Vincent wrote in the LA Times that “the world is actually proud of us too, and more than a little surprised. It didn't think we had it in us. To tell you the truth, neither did I”. Peggy Noonan gushed that “[Obama] confounded history to get [the presidency]. What a thing this is going to be to see. What luck to observe it.”

The fact that America has elected a black president is an exhibition of its relative color-blindness, at least compared to a generation ago, but is hardly historically significant and certainly not surprising.

Hollywood has shown black presidents for years. In “The Man”, James Earl Jones played a black president, as did Morgan Freeman in “Deep Impact.” “24” character David Palmer was a very popular fictional black president, at least until he was assassinated (on the show, of course, not in real life).

And in real life, Colin Powell probably could have run for the presidency on either party’s ticket in 1996. He wasn’t guaranteed a victory, of course, but his impressive poll support was clear evidence that wide swathes of America were open to the idea of a black man running for president. For that matter, the intensely polarizing Jesse Jackson ran respectable presidential campaigns in 1984 and 1988. Obama’s victory may be a victory for race relations—but it is about as surprising as hearing of a Catholic winning an election in Utah.

And not to rain on anyone’s parade, but the fact that a black man has become president of the United States is historically significant only if one takes a relentlessly Amerocentric view of history. Blacks were treated horribly in America—first as slaves, then under Jim Crow. But compared to other historical turnarounds, the liberation of black society isn’t particularly remarkable. Jews are now accepted in Germany. India’s people peacefully overthrew their British rulers and set up a fairly functioning democracy. Japan managed to check its imperialistic impulses and is now allies with the very nations it attempted to conquer seventy years ago. Black America has come a long way—but compared to the above examples, its story isn’t particularly extraordinary.

And even if one thinks it is comparable, it’s worth noting that America is still de facto segregated. Blacks are now allowed to vote, to send their children to school wherever they like, and to assemble without fear. Whites, at least the vast majority, no longer fear or worry about blacks. But it’s rare to see blacks and whites living together. Schools are mostly separated into white and black schools. White and black youth culture is different (though there is some crossover between the two cultures, whites tend to listen to pop or country music, whiles black seem to prefer hip-hop).

Black and whites don’t intermarry to any significant degree. When going to any young people’s hangout, whites and blacks usually stay apart.

(I can’t speak from personal experience, but it would be interesting to compare racial attitudes in America and a European country, such as England. According to some articles I’ve seen, racial attitudes over there are much more relaxed. That may be true—they couldn’t be much less relaxed than they are here—but I can’t think of any prominent European politicians, or any other influential characters, of color).

Racist slurs are considered unacceptable, and any racial prejudice is the one sin that is considered unforgivable. White people, at least the ones I know, aren’t motivated by racial dislike—they simply don’t seem to know many black people. And the blacks I know are the same way—they don’t dislike whites, they simply don’t seem to have much in common with them.

I can’t say why the relationship between whites and blacks isn’t closer, except that I doubt it is solely due to racial tension. But our society is still effectively segregated today, and Americans might want to hold off the self-congratulations of their tolerance and sensitivity until it isn’t.

10 Comments:

At November 12, 2008 at 7:27 PM , Blogger road warrior said...

I think you are living in some while suburban neighborhood aren't you? When you toss around "them" referring to black people because non of your white friends know any it kind shows your playing cards. If a black couple did move into your suburban neighborhood then what would happen? Maybe nothing or maybe a lot of uncomfortable stairs if the neighbors are nice. Maybe Obama and the liberal illuminati are overplaying his black victory or maybe they aren't. i would say they are not because if nothing else, it show how far this country has come. And is a victory not just for the US but for humanity.

 
At November 13, 2008 at 3:39 AM , Blogger JeffsJots said...

It was not a race between a Black man and a White man. It really was a very clear choice. Maybe not a great one but it was very clear...There was little else to choose from in the last election but the choice was very clear, it was really a choice between a leftist socialist racist or an American hero. So of course John McCain received my vote. Once he was the GOP candidate, he was in possession of my full support, if not agreement with his campaign/philosophy.
Can we vote for an extreme lefty whose ideas are a Marxist as Karl Marx himself?
We must identify ourselves and what we really stand for. . To what segment of the GOP do you belong? Are you a Reagan conservative, believing in small government and individual responsibility? Are you a “right wing wacko” who only votes on the issue of abortion? Perhaps you are a social liberal but a conservative in things economic. I do not seek to pass judgment on anyone’s affiliation, only to qualify who we are and where we stand. Regardless of where you fall on the line, you must know before you engage where your own prejudice lies in relation to your political ideology. You must know as well as I do that an American hero is a better choice no matter what else he had done in the past is a far better choice than a Leftist Socialist Racist.

 
At November 13, 2008 at 4:59 AM , Blogger Myself said...

"It's not black against white, it's the “right wing wackos” who only votes on the issue of abortion"

I just cannot support a candidate whose opinions and choices differ from mine by such a vast degree. I don’t really agree with most of what Mr. McCain has to say, either, but he’s closer to where I stand than Mr. Obama. I really didn’t look forward to casting my ballot this election day just because my choices are so bad this year. I could not bring myself to sit out the election ...For me it was a no brainer, I had a clear choice and I made it, I voted for NcCain.

 
At November 13, 2008 at 6:37 AM , Blogger Throwing Stones said...

"A Great Black Victory? "

Hey he got 96 percent of the Black vote!
Ain't that racist?

 
At November 13, 2008 at 7:14 AM , Blogger My Left View said...

No this was not a Black/White vote at all.
Yes it's true like some one said Obama did get 96 percent of the Black vote, but look at how much of the White vote he got as well.

The Rush Limbaugh/Sean Hannity Republicans seem to embrace just about everything the Republicans have done the last 8 years except for immigration reform and spending. They come across as hating gays, minorities and immigrants. They have a take no prisoners approach and refuse to negotiate or even listen to what others have to say. Then they make Ronald Reagan out to be some idealogue like they are which is so far from the truth. Reagan put the country first and when he made mistakes he corrected them.


As long as these mindless conservatives exist the Republicans have no chance. Just look at the youth vote. 2 out of 3 went for Obama and 1 out of 3 young evangelicals went for Obama. The issues that were so important to the Conservatives 28 years ago are not so important to young voters today.

Every two years you have new voters turning 18 while you have older voters who seem to tilt Republican dying off.

These conservatives have to realize that the country and world has changed and they haven't.
As long as Sean Hannity Rush Limbaugh, and that NUT-JOB Ann Coulter are leading your party the Republicans will never win. The only thing worse is the Religious rightwing nuts who think only they are going to heaven while the poke the choir boys, playing footsie tootsies games in the men’s room, hide in the closet while paying gay hookers, or get caught fleecing their flock. Throw in the crazy anti-abortion freaks holding their disturbing signs and you havn't got a chance.
It is time for the GOP and the out of time conservatives to wake up and realize this is 2008, and not 1980 when Reagan defeated Carter.

 
At November 13, 2008 at 8:13 AM , Blogger Daniel Ruwe said...

"As long as Sean Hannity Rush Limbaugh, and that NUT-JOB Ann Coulter are leading your party the Republicans will never win."

Except, I guess, in 1994, or 1998, or 2000, or 2002, or 2004. But apart from those years, yeah, the GOP will never win.

 
At November 13, 2008 at 8:30 AM , Blogger My Left View said...

Except, I guess, in 1994, or 1998, or 2000, or 2002, or 2004. But apart from those years, yeah, the GOP will never win

Like I said, you are living in the past,.

 
At November 13, 2008 at 9:27 AM , Blogger Matt Rose said...

Which of these ‘core conservatives values’ is obnoxious?
• Honesty- Huh
• Small Government- Really?
• Family- yeah we sacrifice our young. duh.
• Education- no child left behind or home schooling?
• Welfare Reform- now the rich get subsidized-Clinton pushed welfare reform through
. Pro life- I doubt that!
• Lower Taxes- for who?
• States Rights-Florida 2000 nuff said
• The Bill of Rights- Take that up with the current commander and chief.
Chuckles Show me a republican whom these values represent. In practice and not theory. There is not one in public office.
What is obnoxious is this America or that America. If you criticize or question you are un-American.The Appalachia area is the heartland. “Drill baby drill” without talking responsible about U.S. refining capacity being at 100%.
The GOP is a fraudulent and misleading. Wake up.
What you don’t understand is The GOP represents the corporation and not you.
And the so called Conservatives with principles are in the dark.
The fact Barack Obama trounced John McCain last Tuesday should have surprised no one. The real story, however, is not how Obama defeated McCain. The real story is how McCain defeated America’s conservatives. For all intents and purposes, conservatism—as a national movement—is completely and thoroughly dead. Obama did not destroy it, however. It was George W Bush and McCain who destroyed conservatism in America.
For example, Bush and his fellow neocons like to categorize and promote themselves as being “pro-life,” but they have no hesitation or reservation about killing hundreds of thousands of innocent people in reckless and unconstitutional foreign wars. So the "pro-lifer's are out of touch with reality.
American people look at these so-called “conservatives” and laugh. No wonder such a sizeable majority of voters yawned when McCain tried to scare them by accusing Obama of being a “big taxer.” How can one possibly scare people with a charge like that after the GOP has made a total mockery of fiscal conservatism? That’s like trying to scare someone coming out from a swim in the Gulf of Mexico with a squirt gun.
But the worst calamity of this election was the way conservatives—especially Christian conservatives—surrendered their principles for the sake of political partisanship. Across the country, rather than stand on principle, hundreds of thousands of pastors, Christians, and pro-life conservatives capitulated and groveled before McCain’s neocon agenda.
HYPOCRISY with a capital "H"
It is shameful how the conservatives are always acting “holier than thou“. These conservatives are an embarrassment to themselves as well as to the republican party.
But keep standing under the tree and a apple might fall. Us progressives will plant a few trees and when you get hungry swallow your pride and visit.

 
At November 16, 2008 at 6:59 AM , Blogger knowitall said...

This was great for African Americans yes, but for the state of our country, no. The left-wing illuminati are not experienced enough to lead us out of this mess we're in.

 
At November 19, 2008 at 12:40 PM , Blogger road warrior said...

I think the bottom line is that Obama won and his color may or may not have helped him. The conservatives have shot themselves in the foot, or better, G. Bush has shot them in the foot and i think it will be very hard for the republican to win again unless Obama just totally botches this time as president. The illuminati have way to much dirt to remind the american people of. That is going to hurt the republicans for a very long time!

 

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