For those seeking the White House, the conflagration in Baltimore exposed a complicated truth: The racial comity that the election of Barack Obama seemed to promise has not materialized, forcing them to grapple with a red-hot, deeply unresolved dynamic that strays far from their carefully crafted messages and favored themes.
Duh. But Reeve, in her wisdom, takes issue with this obvious truth, opining:
A strange idea has been running through some of the commentary about Baltimore: wasn’t electing Barack Obama supposed to fix this? Why are black people still so mad all the time when we elected a black president? . . . What [this] means is that people (and, let’s say this right here: white people) are eager to pay off the whole legacy-of-slavery-and-systemic-racism tab, to finally settle up and not have to think about social justice anymore. Wasn’t making a black guy president enough? . . . .
Judging Obama on what he has and hasn’t done to heal racial divisions is a direct outgrowth from a certain assertion about how he became a popular presidential candidate in the first place: he struck a deal with liberals to assuage them of their white guilt. This argument was so ubiquitous in 2008 that Obama himself repudiated it in his major speech
on race: ”On one end of the spectrum, we’ve heard the implication that my candidacy is somehow an exercise in affirmative action; that it’s based solely on the desire of wide-eyed liberals to purchase racial reconciliation on the cheap.”
Reeve’s next move is to suggest that racist, white people are just never satisfied: ”As the country has slowly inched toward a more equal society, at every step, certain white people have protested that this is enough, that black people ought to be satisfied by now.” Reeve then, remarkably (and hilariously) equates the New York Times’ acknowledgment of Obama’s worsening of race relations with the Confederacy: “There you have it: You can draw a straight line from supporters of the Confederacy all the way to page A20 of the April 30, 2015, edition of The New York Times.”
The Obama speech Reeve links to–given by candidate Obama in March 2008–contains much, much more than Reeve reveals. Maybe her noted lack of journalistic curiosity caused her to stop reading the speech once she found the quote for which she was looking. But in that speech
, Obama-the-candidate sells himself as a bi-racial person who will heal this country’s racial division, and assures Americans that he does not share the radical, racist and anti-American views of Reverend Jeremiah Wright
I am the son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas. I was raised with the help of a white grandfather who survived a Depression to serve in Patton’s Army during World War II and a white grandmother who worked on a bomber assembly line at Fort Leavenworth while he was overseas. . . .
It’s a story that hasn’t made me the most conventional candidate. But it is a story that has seared into my genetic makeup the idea that this nation is more than the sum of its parts – that out of many, we are truly one.
Throughout the first year of this campaign, against all predictions to the contrary, we saw how hungry the American people were for this message of unity. Despite the temptation to view my candidacy through a purely racial lens, we won commanding victories in states with some of the whitest populations in the country. In South Carolina, where the Confederate Flag still flies, we built a powerful coalition of African Americans and white Americans. . . .
[Reverend Wright's statements] 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; a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam.
As such, Reverend Wright’s comments were not only wrong but divisive, divisive at a time when we need unity; racially charged at a time when we need to come together to solve a set of monumental problems . . . .
But I have asserted a firm conviction – a conviction rooted in my faith in God and my faith in the American people – that working together we can move beyond some of our old racial wounds, and that in fact we have no choice is we are to continue on the path of a more perfect union.
Gee, I wonder why anyone would think a President Obama would help heal our racial divide? As Reeve put it, what a “strange idea”! Improving racial relations was a hope many Americans–black and white–held, in good faith, when supporting the first (half) black President. The fact that Americans now realize that race relations have actually gotten worse isn’t evidence of white racism, as Reeve insinuates, but evidence of President Obama’s failure to lead, or indeed his intent to mislead.