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Ron Radosh

Remnick Takes Up Obama’s Critics: He Calls them Racist

April 12th, 2010 - 12:58 pm

At any rate, aside from snide comments, Remnick does nothing to take on Cashill’s actual arguments. Saying he is part of a “lunatic orbit” is not exactly any kind of a real answer. But he does more — and this time, Remnick uses the same attack launched on Nordlinger. He calls  Cashill’s argument racist! First, he calls the claim that Obama had a ghost writer a “libel” that has a particularly “ugly pedigree.” It is this:

Writing elevated a slave from non-being, from commodity, to human status. … In Frederick Douglass’ narrative, his master, Mr.Auld says, “Learning would spoil the best nigger in the world … if you teach that nigger (speaking of myself) to read, there would be no keeping him.”
        And yet writers like Douglass had to call on white men to authenticate their texts, the better to disprove the antebellum Jack Cashills and Rush Limbaugh ready to declare fraud.

Remnick continues to argue that Douglass had to assure white readers that he wrote the book, by providing authentication from people such as William Lloyd Garrison and Wendell Phillips so that he would have the “seal of white endorsement.”  Remnick writes:

Garrison vouched for Douglass’ literacy. The title, too, indicates a need to deny a sham. It is called the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself.
        
A century and a half later, thinking a degree of racial progress had been achieved,  Barack Obama and his publisher had not thought to collect such endorsements. (my emphasis.)

That ends the chapter. Remnick, instead of showing how, why and where the questions raised by Cashill have no merit, simply asserts that like in the times of slavery, white critics today argue that Obama might not have written his book and needed a ghost writer to help him because they too are racist and believe that Obama or any other articulate, smart and educated African-American cannot write his own book!

Cashill’s arguments may indeed be wrong and not have merit. I emphasize this because I am not writing to endorse his theory. I am only arguing that Remnick does not even try to disprove or challenge him. Instead, he deals with him and Limbaugh by playing the race card in an absurd way.

Cashill is also correct when  he writes in his American Thinker blog:

The defense of Obama by Wills and Remnick should not surprise. As I discovered five years ago in the research for my book, Hoodwinked, America’s intellectual elite has been crafting and enabling intellectual fraud for nearly a century. “Not unnaturally,” I wrote, “people of influence in the cultural establishment are inclined to promote, praise, and protect those creative individuals who think as they do.” The protected, by the way, include people of all colors, genders, and orientations. The protectors usually vote, sound, and condescend just like [Gary] Wills and Remnick.

As one of the most quoted comments ever made about intellectuals go, they are the “herd of independent minds.”

All this should not be surprising. The New Yorker, along with The New York Review of Books and The New York Times, has become the epitome of acceptable liberalism and a chorus of cheer-leaders for Barack Obama. If David Remnick had reached any different conclusions about Obama’s critics than the one he did reach, that would have been the real surprise.

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