Tuesday, March 18, 2008
We Can't Ignore Race, So Let's Ignore Race: Some (tentative!) reactions to Obama's somewhat arid talk--which a) probably advanced the discussion of racial issues, b) gave me a much better (and basically appealing) idea of where Obama is coming from, but c) didn't particularly advance his case to be President--especially, I fear among doubting white, male, non-college, etc. voters:
Obama gives Archie Bunker a chance to tune out:The speech starts by talking about slavery. Yikes. Why are we talking about slavery? We know about slavery. We want to know why Obama picked his paranoid pastor! One of the troubles with African-American pastors like Wright, after all, is what seems to be an excessive emphasis on the racial sins burdens of the past. The last thing we want from Obama is more talk of slavery.
Finally in paragraph six or so, the speech starts again on a better note. ("I am the son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas.")
Troublesome Equivalence #1:
On one end of the spectrum, we've heard the implication that my candidacy is somehow an exercise in affirmative action ... On the other end, we've heard my former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, use incendiary language ....
It won't do much to reassure voters worried about affirmative action, or worried that Obama is unqualified, to have their concerns lumped with Wright's "offensive words."
Two little Souljahs, too late? Finally, around Paragraph 13, a sentence that seems to recognize the problem:
But the remarks that have caused this recent firestorm weren't simply controversial. ... Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country - a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America;
As such, Reverend Wright's comments were not only wrong but divisive, divisive at a time when we need unity;