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Roger L. Simon

Barack Obama, Segregationist

October 3rd, 2012 - 12:06 am

I have never been able to put my finger on exactly what it was that I so disliked about Barack Obama. As a former sixties civil rights worker, I should have been attracted to, or at least inspired by, the first black presidential candidate and president, but I never was.

Sure, I didn’t care for a number of his policies and the narcissistic showoff stuff (those Greek columns) was a bit overdone, not to mention the obvious lies about his relationship with his mentor Jeremiah Wright and the less obvious prevarications about his relationships with William Ayers and others.

But I suspected something more substantive, more significant, was troubling me. And it was finally revealed in Obama’s lengthy 2007 speech to a black audience just made available in its unbowdlerized form by Fox News and the Daily Caller Tuesday night. I had my “aha” moment.

Barack Obama is a segregationist.

How else do you explain a statement like “We don’t need to build more highways out in the suburbs. We should be investing in minority-owned business, in our neighborhoods”? [emphasis mine]

That is not what most of us had in mind when we were involved in the civil rights movement. Naïve us. Our intention was that everyone should get to live wherever they wanted, even those suburbs. They were open to all. Forget ghettoes and barrios. Equality, brother, equality. How did that old Babs Gonzales song go — “We got a New Frontier, a man in the moon, but we ain’t got integration”?

Oh well, integration was a nice idea once upon a time, but to Barack Obama in 2007 it was already seriously outdated, if it ever had any value. And why should it? An integrated society is not easily broken off into equally easily manipulated interest groups like African-Americans or Hispanic-Americans.

Segregation pays — at the ballot box.

It is also one of the fastest and most reliable routes to power.

Now I’m not trying to say that Obama is a segregationist like Orville Faubus or even a cheap race hustler like Sharpton. He is something different and obviously more complex and subtle, but in the final analysis he relies on the same reactionary racial estrangement as the other two.

Indeed, our president is the reverse of what he appears to be, pretending to bring the races together when he profits by driving them apart. In that sense, he is similar to Yasser Arafat, talking one way to the West and another to his Palestinian brothers.

Yes, we all know that almost all politicians engage in such targeted speechmaking, but the lengths to which they go while doing it, the extremity of the differences in what they are saying between audiences, take the measure of the man or woman.

In Barack Obama’s case, it’s pretty extreme. In the Hampton University speech, Obama sounds like a character out of Ralph Ellison’s classic Invisible Man, pandering and preaching divisive nonsense about Hurricane Katrina, which he surely knew wasn’t true.

Or did he? Actually, he seemed to be making a “separate but equal” argument regarding the treatment of Katrina victims and those of other disasters, itself reminiscent of the days of segregation. But I don’t think he was really doing that either, at least not consciously. Again like one of Ellison’s characters, he was convincing himself of his general righteousness while revving up the crowd telling them lies they clearly wanted to hear.

That’s not a hard thing to do, when you think about it. Trouble is — the audience changes and a man could get schizoid. Nevertheless, Obama had at it that night with the singular determination of a demagogue. And he went “off book” to do it. The complaisant media of course chose not to report any of it and relied only on the printed text.

That was then and this is now. The Daily Caller has brought back the speech in its entirety, five years after the fact.

Listening to it, I had the sense that the world had come full circle within my lifetime. Right was left. Up was down. Segregation was now “progressive” and integration was, well, racist. More proof — if we needed it — that Orwell’s Animal Farm is one of the greatest books ever written.

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