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The Racist Assumptions of Boxer and Obama

An exchange with a black business leader and an address to the NAACP reveals the dark underbelly of their views.

by
Mary Grabar

Bio

July 21, 2009 - 12:35 am

We should mark July 16, 2009, as a day when white progressives — from an elitist lady senator to our mixed-race president — revealed their true racist colors.

On that day, Senator (not “Ma’am”) Barbara Boxer chided Harry Alford of the National Black Chamber of Commerce during his testimony before the Senate Public Works Committee, and President (not descendant of slaves) Barack Obama, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the NAACP, lectured parents about making sure their children do their homework and bragged about his “administration.”

While school children are taught that the Progressive Era from the 1890s to the 1920s was one of reforms, historians have noted its eugenicist, racist, xenophobic, fascist, and elitist traits. Today’s progressives, like Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, continue the tradition.

Like Jane Addams’ ladies of the settlement house movement who swooshed into the homes of immigrants, feeling it incumbent on themselves to show the unwashed masses how to live, Madame Senator Boxer felt that she could instruct Mr. Alford on “diversity,” a term used interchangeably with “black,” “African-American,” or “minority” by progressives. And Boxer was using that definition when she cited both the NAACP and the 100 Black Men of Atlanta to counter the skepticism of Alford’s group on her position that clean energy will “jump-start” the economy. Because Alford did not fit into her and other progressives’ larger agenda, she, by citing these organizations, challenged Alford’s legitimacy as a black man.

She also used the racist strategy of pitting one black group against another. Alford rightfully challenged Boxer for not treating him as an individual capable of forming his own opinions, but as needing her leadership and guidance toward the appropriate organization. NAACP, yes. Black Chamber, no. In this, she is like the Progressive Era educators who decided that offering academic curricula to all students was an old-fashioned relic of a bygone era. Like the progressive educators who decided that an academic curriculum that included higher and abstract thinking (Latin, mathematics, literature, history) was beyond the needs and abilities of certain groups, Boxer was telling Alford that he was not smart enough to study the issues and make his own decisions.

When he challenged her on the relevance of the NAACP “resolution” and cited the studies he had brought and the Black Chamber’s experience with the issue (since 1996), she realized that she had been called out on her use of “diversity.” So backpedaling and adopting a more conciliatory tone, she cited a study by the progressive Pew Charitable Trust.

Understandably, the mainstream media has failed to note the racism of this progressive senator. The New York Times consigned the item to a blog post. The Huffington Post denied any racism on Boxer’s part.

Obama, in the meantime, felt that black parents needed his lecture on parenting. Using his white mother as an example, he told them to see to it that their children do their homework. Yet, he repeated the progressive refrain that discrimination still exists: it is felt “by African-American women paid less for doing the same work as colleagues of a different color and gender. By Latinos made to feel unwelcome in their own country. By Muslim Americans viewed with suspicion for simply kneeling down to pray. By our gay brothers and sisters, still taunted, still attacked, still denied their rights.”

Obama must have felt comfortable bringing up the issue of gay rights, for the NAACP has greatly deviated from its original charter: the larger goal of eliminating racial discrimination and the immediate goal of ending the lynching of black men. The organization that had resisted efforts of communists to alternately infiltrate and destroy the organization from the 1920s through the 1940s has become a front group for “progressives,” taking on their causes like “climate change.”

Obama also used the occasion to tout larger progressive goals, specifically, his administration’s efforts in health care, job creation, clean energy, and “consumer protections.” As he lectured on parental responsibility, he at the same time touted government early childhood education programs. Again, following the progressive promotion of government power, Obama displayed blindness to the causes for our current situation “more than a half century after Brown v. Board of Education,” as “African-American students lag behind white students.” Of course, Obama did not mention that black Americans, in spite of prejudice and hardship, were quite capable of raising their families and educating their children on their own — before the Great Society programs. In his book Black Rednecks and White Liberals, Thomas Sowell notes that in the days before Brown v. Board of Education, black public schools in Washington, D.C., and Harlem matched or exceeded the performance of similar white schools. But that was before white radicals set out to “smash monogamy” and promoted thuggery as something authentically black — and in the process undermined the black family, community, and church.

Although I’m not black but an immigrant from Slovenia, I’ve felt the condescension of progressives. When I was in graduate school many assumed I would be writing my thesis and dissertation on a female writer or on some topic pertaining to “women’s issues” — predetermined by progressives, of course, with a pro-choice, pro-gay, pro-government stance. It was assumed by progressive colleagues that I would not want to delve into the larger philosophical, historical, and theological issues of literature written by men.

Similarly, Boxer seemed surprised that Alford would not agree with her assessment of what is good for him and the black community. So Alford had every right to be angry. Like the academics who create departments for minority students, Boxer was relegating this black man to the ghetto of racial issues, which by white progressives’ definitions cannot include any of the aspects of the American Dream, like freedom, self-initiative, and responsibility. Boxer might be surprised that there are others who do not desire her “help” — like Frances Rice of the National Black Republican Association, Apostle Claver of Raging Elephants, and Kevin Jackson, who pegged Boxer on his blog, The Black Sphere.

As someone who speaks with no accent and is not immediately identified as an immigrant, I have observed progressives from both sides: first from the patronizing angle when I accompanied my mother to clean their houses, and then later in the workplace and academy when, assuming I was one of them, they spoke openly. Their assumptions about blacks and other “minorities” were not very respectful and sometimes diverged into outright slurs.

The group that Obama addressed has already deviated from its original purpose so much that its members could no longer discern his doublespeak. Barbara Boxer unwittingly spoke as she would at a cocktail party of white California progressives and was embarrassed at being caught in her racist assumptions by the black man who asserted his American right to not be defined and pegged by her and her ilk.

Mary Grabar earned her Ph.D. in English from the University of Georgia and teaches in Atlanta. She is organizing the Resistance to the Re-Education of America at www.dissidentprof.com. Her writing can be found at www.marygrabar.com. Subscribe to dispatches here.
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