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  1. #1 The Unavoidable Issue 
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    I have some thoughts on this one, but wondered what you all thought about this,
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...401826_pf.html
    The Unavoidable Issue

    By E. J. Dionne Jr.
    Tuesday, August 5, 2008; A19

    Last week's dust-up over race between John McCain and Barack Obama was entirely disappointing. Obama spoke first about how his opponents would try to "make you scared of me," noting that he "doesn't look like all those other presidents" on our currency. What Obama said was true, but he made the tactical mistake of suggesting that McCain was complicit in overtly racial politics.

    That gave Rick Davis, McCain's campaign manager, the excuse to offer the preposterous charge that Obama had "played the race card, and he played it from the bottom of the deck."

    Davis's use of a dreadful cliche brought to mind George Orwell's observation that there exists "a huge dump of worn-out metaphors which have lost all evocative power and are merely used because they save people the trouble of inventing phrases for themselves."

    Nonetheless, the Obama camp was caught short, and the candidate backed off a critique of McCain on race. McCain largely left the matter to his surrogates. Both candidates are wary of racial politics. Obama knows that whites and Latinos will constitute the vast majority of November's electorate, and McCain knows that many swing voters will be turned off by explicit racism. But the episode was a good example of how indirect and misleading political talk can be. Like it or not, Obama's race is an issue, just as John F. Kennedy's religion was an issue in 1960 -- and racism runs deeper in our history than anti-Catholicism.

    There is no doubt that two keys to this election are: How many white and Latino votes will Obama lose because of his race that a white Democrat would have won? And how much will African American turnout grow, given the opportunity to elect our nation's first black president?

    Let's dispose of the canard that there is something wrong with black people voting in overwhelming numbers for a black candidate. Minorities in the United States always turn out in a big way for the candidate who is breaking barriers on their behalf.

    The most obvious example is Kennedy, who won roughly 80 percent of the Catholic vote in 1960, about 30 percentage points greater than the Catholic share won four years earlier by Democrat Adlai Stevenson. Proportionately, Kennedy's gain among Catholics was far greater than Obama's likely pickup over John Kerry's 2004 vote among African Americans, judging by the current polls.

    More broadly, the race issue is used less overtly now than it used to be. When Democrats were the party of Jim Crow in the post-Civil War period, many in their ranks ran ugly, blatantly racist campaigns. Beginning in 1968 with Richard Nixon's Southern strategy, Republicans have been far more subtle in playing to white reaction on race.

    Often, the appeal to white unease over race is overlaid with a populist rhetoric against "liberal elitists" who side with blacks while not understanding the struggles of the white working class.

    William Connolly, a left-of-center political theorist, wrote an essay in 1981 that brilliantly captured why so many white working-class voters came to reject liberal programs.

    Connolly argued that such voters saw the welfare state as turning on them, undermining the values they espoused and denigrating their efforts at self-reliance. They saw mandatory school busing as robbing them of their chance to secure a better education for their children by moving into better school districts. Especially among working-class white men, affirmative action seemed to treat "everyone else . . . either as meritorious or as unjustly closed out from the ranks of the meritorious."

    When liberals dismissed such concerns as purely racist, Connolly noted, "These vulnerable constituencies did not need too much political coaxing to bite the hand that had slapped them in the face."

    The great opportunity this year for less scrupulous Republican strategists is that Obama is both black and a Columbia-and-Harvard-educated former professor who lived in the intellectually rarified precincts of Hyde Park in Chicago, Manhattan's Upper West Side and Cambridge, Mass. They can go after him subtly on race and overtly on elitism. They can turn the facts of Obama's life into mutually reinforcing liabilities.

    Is this unfair? Yes, it is. But if our nation is to cast off the shackles of race this year, Obama will have to grapple more than he'd like with the burdens that our history and the past travails of liberalism have forced him to bear.
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  2. #2  
    To be perfectly honest, Obama is not a black candidate in my own mind. The black experience in America is represented by men and women descended from slaves and creole people who experienced political and social oppression until the achievements of the civil rights movement. There are a lot of gifted people who fit this definition but Obama isn't one of them.

    Obama's "blackness" is just a convenient political lever much as being a woman or a grandmother is for Pelosi. No one seriously looks at Pelosi and believes that she can represent the average experience of working mothers or grandmothers.

    This is mostly just another stab at worshiping diversity as end in itself. People seem to think that a different skin tone or a different set of genitalia really makes a difference and it doesn't. All politicians are self-serving; it's just a matter of how much and at what cost.
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  3. #3  
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    I tend to agree with you on this. What really got me about the article, though, was the feeling that the white working class felt that many of the racial gains were made on its back. This paragraph in particular got to me:

    Connolly argued that such voters saw the welfare state as turning on them, undermining the values they espoused and denigrating their efforts at self-reliance. They saw mandatory school busing as robbing them of their chance to secure a better education for their children by moving into better school districts. Especially among working-class white men, affirmative action seemed to treat "everyone else . . . either as meritorious or as unjustly closed out from the ranks of the meritorious."

    When liberals dismissed such concerns as purely racist, Connolly noted, "These vulnerable constituencies did not need too much political coaxing to bite the hand that had slapped them in the face."
    It struck me that the Democrats spent so much time labeling real concerns as "racist" that they alienated their traditional base, leaving it to be swept up by the conservative message. In terms of values, the white working class is far more connected to self-reliance than the university educated elites. The Democrats keep ignoring this message. This year, they have another John Kerry-type running. Obama's only connection to the non-elite is his race, and, as you pointed out so well, Obama does not represent the black experience in America.

    I think the Democrats are ignoring the working class at their peril. The reason Hillary got the working class support she did may have been because of her husband, who no matter what you think of him, is the real deal: he was a working class guy who made good on his own smarts and wile. Obama has never been working class and I think the working class just looks at him as another elitist. Obama has certainly helped that along with his own behavior.
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  4. #4  
    I don't know if working class whites focus on race as much as academics and journalists seem to believe. I'm inclined to believe that take-home pay, regulations which affect the workplace or lifestyle, and cost-of-living issues are more important.

    In some areas of the country, working class whites are starting to become angered by illegal immigration and the two-tiered justice system and wage suppression that come with it but ivory tower elites aren't too interested in that.

    To be honest, most working class people are too busy working and raising kids to be as outraged or vindictive as the media would like.
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  5. #5  
    Senior Member Molon Labe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gingersnap View Post
    To be perfectly honest, Obama is not a black candidate in my own mind. The black experience in America is represented by men and women descended from slaves and creole people who experienced political and social oppression until the achievements of the civil rights movement. There are a lot of gifted people who fit this definition but Obama isn't one of them.

    Obama's "blackness" is just a convenient political lever much as being a woman or a grandmother is for Pelosi. No one seriously looks at Pelosi and believes that she can represent the average experience of working mothers or grandmothers.

    This is mostly just another stab at worshiping diversity as end in itself. People seem to think that a different skin tone or a different set of genitalia really makes a difference and it doesn't. All politicians are self-serving; it's just a matter of how much and at what cost.

    True...Shelby Steele has called it "White Guilt". Obama no more represents what black America is than Hillary Clinton represented working class moms or Kerry represented veterans.

    Steele wrote this about Obama back in March...when Ferraro pointed out the obvious, but politically suicidal truth.
    I wish more voices for black America emulated Steele.

    http://online.wsj.com/public/article...818243439.html

    Mr. Obama's extraordinary dash to the forefront of American politics is less a measure of the man than of the hunger in white America for racial innocence
    .
    Last edited by Molon Labe; 08-05-2008 at 04:26 PM.
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  6. #6  
    noonwitch
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    I'm always amazed at white liberals who pretend they don't notice a person is black because they are "color blind". I always say that color blind is a term white people use to delude themselves that they aren't racist. It's fake as hell. I like people for who they are-I like black people because they are black people. But if you say that, other white people treat you like you are Jimmy the Greek (who didn't offend any black people I know with his comments about racial history and talented black athletes-most I know said he spoke the truth). But white liberals were outraged.


    This article does make a good point, about how everyone is dancing around the race issue because they are afraid of appearing racist. It's like when someone white (like Hillary) says that they are worried that someone will assassinate Obama, and the media then tries to paint that person as a racist-jeez, like that thought hasn't crossed just about everyone over 35's mind at some point, whatever their race. Colin Powell didn't run for president in 2000 because his wife was afraid a racist would kill him. MLK was assassinated by a racist (so was Malcolm X, for that matter, but people don't like to think of a black on black killing as being racially motivated).

    It's funny-in metro Detroit, working class blacks and whites get along on an individual basis, but not on a community level. The whites feel that blacks had advantages (AA) that they didn't have, and the blacks feel that the whites think they are better than the blacks. Even at work, people will ask "Why is there a separate NASW/NABSW?", although there are historical reasons for that division that should have been settled a long time ago, regarding adoption/foster care placements of black kids with white families. The disparity has been resolved, and now, white kids get placed in black homes, too (the sticking point for decades). Or, why is there still a Miss Black America? Why are sororities and fraternities still mostly segregated (other than the black organizations take things like charity work more seriously than keggers)?


    If we could just cut through the crap and delusions, we might actually make progress toward equality.
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  7. #7  
    Quote Originally Posted by noonwitch View Post
    If we could just cut through the crap and delusions, we might actually make progress toward equality.
    I think we've actually achieved the equality, we just need to let go of the baggage. Blacks need to consider the future more than they consider their ancestral past and whites need to stop treating blacks like children who can't be trusted to handle consequences.

    Failure is an option for anybody of any race, as is success.
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  8. #8  
    Senior Member Rebel Yell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by noonwitch View Post
    I'm always amazed at white liberals who pretend they don't notice a person is black because they are "color blind". I always say that color blind is a term white people use to delude themselves that they aren't racist. It's fake as hell. I like people for who they are-I like black people because they are black people. But if you say that, other white people treat you like you are Jimmy the Greek (who didn't offend any black people I know with his comments about racial history and talented black athletes-most I know said he spoke the truth). But white liberals were outraged.


    This article does make a good point, about how everyone is dancing around the race issue because they are afraid of appearing racist. It's like when someone white (like Hillary) says that they are worried that someone will assassinate Obama, and the media then tries to paint that person as a racist-jeez, like that thought hasn't crossed just about everyone over 35's mind at some point, whatever their race. Colin Powell didn't run for president in 2000 because his wife was afraid a racist would kill him. MLK was assassinated by a racist (so was Malcolm X, for that matter, but people don't like to think of a black on black killing as being racially motivated).

    It's funny-in metro Detroit, working class blacks and whites get along on an individual basis, but not on a community level. The whites feel that blacks had advantages (AA) that they didn't have, and the blacks feel that the whites think they are better than the blacks. Even at work, people will ask "Why is there a separate NASW/NABSW?", although there are historical reasons for that division that should have been settled a long time ago, regarding adoption/foster care placements of black kids with white families. The disparity has been resolved, and now, white kids get placed in black homes, too (the sticking point for decades). Or, why is there still a Miss Black America? Why are sororities and fraternities still mostly segregated (other than the black organizations take things like charity work more seriously than keggers)?


    If we could just cut through the crap and delusions, we might actually make progress toward equality.

    Personally, I feel the only way to get over racism is to shut the hell up about it. People can't forget about racism and move on because it's shoved down there throats all the time. The media will keep racism alive and well in this country forever. You can't go two days without hearing about somebody being a racist, or a white guy committed a crime against a black guy (but somehow, you never hear about the reverse). The white elites in this country (the media), will keep racism alive and well because it makes them feel better about themselves living the lilly white American dream. They take up a cause (racism) that they can project onto the middle to low income whites (the redneck). Trust me when I say this, rural whites doen here (me) don't have the power or the time to oppress anyone. We are too busy trying to make our paychecks stretch til next Friday.
    I feel that once a black fella has referred to white foks as "honky paleface devil white-trash cracker redneck Caspers," he's abdicated the right to get upset about the "N" word. But that's just me. -- Jim Goad
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