I admire Barack’s Obama rhetorical skills and ability to run against Clinton, Inc., but racial polarization will be the legacy of an Obama campaign that promised to transcend race.
It now routinely counts on winning 90% of the African-American community on the basis of racial affinity against a similar liberal Democratic candidate, who herself in short order in turn relies on racial identity politics. Pennsylvania might prove to be the most polarized election yet, and it’s likely that Obama will reap what he’s sown with his failure to disassociate himself from a racist. The speech, for some reason aimed at solidifying the African-American base and capturing praise in the New York Times, succeeded on those counts as much as it turned off middle-class America, set racial relations backward, and destroyed his campaign.
One legacy of his speech is that 85-year-old Mrs. Madelyn Dunham, once praised for saving the Obama failed household, will be remembered by America for her supposed racist, “made me cringe” sneers that provoked her brilliant grandson’s metamorphosis into a trans-racial messiah. That cruel evocation was symptomatic of a generation that does all it can to claim credit for itself for its perceived successes, and to allot blame to its predecessors for all its present unhappiness.
But then the Obama campaign already had focused on the Obama’s neuroses, their angst about their loans, the cost of their kids’ school and camp, and whether or not Michelle felt ‘pride’ this particular week in the rest of us. The Wright mess and the relativist apology for it are not the only reason for the slide in the polls; America also got tired of the self-indulgence and self-referencing that exceeded even that of the Clintons', heretofore the past masters of the me-generation.
The only suspense will be how the great healer explains to the nation why in the world white voters outside of the elite suburbs suddenly turned on him in record numbers that cannot be balanced by the record majorities he piles up in African-American communities. Pennsylvania will be the barometer of the reaction to his modified hangout speech this week, and I think he could well lose the state by 20%. And that will send a powerful message that the Democrats have nominated someone who will not or cannot “disown” an abject racist—or at least apply the same standards of condemnation that he once applied to Don Imus when he asked him to resign.
Indeed, as two liberal candidates duke it out, we now matter-of-factly talk of the “white voter” and the “black voter” and the “Latino voter.” The overwhelming majority of black commentators on television who hear the replays of the Wright venom find ways of assuring audiences that what they are hearing is not what they think they are hearing—given that listeners are not experienced with that past grievance or this present custom in the black religious community.
Reporters hunt in vain for a black preacher or members of churches similar to Trinity who find Wright’s racism, anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism abominable. But then why should they when Barack Obama himself has put such hatred in the proper context of ‘everyone does it’—your rabbi, his grandmother, the “corporate culture”, the “Reagan Coalition", Geraldine Ferraro, and all the other racists who are moral equivalents of Rev. Wright spouting out “God Damn America”, “rich white folks,” the “KKK of A”, “Clarence Colon” and all the other sickness? (In this regard I smiled when the Rev. Sharpton the other night swore that the Rev. Wright had not said anything untoward about "whites" (cf."KKK of A") or toward any one person (cf. e.g., "Clarence Colon", "Condamnesia" Rice).
Giddy elite whites chime in solemn tones that the “speech” was historical and the burden is on the less sensitive than they to appreciate it and fall into line. Meanwhile tens of millions in the middle-class of all races remain appalled. They are puzzled that their intelligence is being insulted—that a would-be President can neither explain his past intimacy with a racist nor promise to disassociate himself from the font of such hatred.
So history will record that the disturbing legacies of the Obama racial paradigm are his twins of moral equivalence and contextualization. That is, once a private remark of a grandmother is elevated to the same sin as a public hate-fest, for purposes of rationalization, or a quip of Geraldine Ferraro is similar to “God Damn America” or the “KKK of A”, then all metrics disappear. The next time someone utters something reprehensible, there will be a chorus that points out a similar tit-for-tat pretext.
And since we are to understand that the peculiar frustrations of blacks and the protocols of expression within in the black church must pardon the effects of the Wright hatred, it unfortunately won’t be long until the next racist outburst is likewise explained away. Imus tried that when he advanced the argument that his past good works and the raunchiness of talk-jock radio made his racist remarks merely crude rather than ill-intended.
That argument rightly failed (as the “old” Obama pointed out at the time); after Wright and Obama, similar ones won’t next time—and the future is sadly going to be wide-open, true to the Wright brand of coarseness and crudity. Thanks to Obama there will be fewer to speak out with any credibility that an absolute standard of decency condemns all forms of racism from anyone under all circumstances.
Obama’s eloquence and his postmodern deftness with false analogies and slick relativism may have ensured both that the super delegates don’t yank his nomination, and that public anger over his falsehoods about what he knew and when is chalked up to racism, but the damage he’s done won’t be undone easily. The Democrats flocked to this Pied Piper and now he’s going to lead them over the proverbial cliff.
For Obama's theories on education, see the following I posted on NRO (before the landmark "speech"):
“The forces of division have started to raise their ugly heads again.”
Today a news item reported on Sen. Obama’s recent take on the current status of education:
“He said schools should do a better job of teaching all students African-American history "because that's part of American history," as well as women's struggle for equality, the history of unions, the role of Hispanics in U.S. and other matters that he suggested aren't given enough attention.”
"I want us to have a broad-based history" taught in schools, he said, even including more on "the Holocaust as well as other issues of oppression" around the world.”
But anyone familiar with the historical illiteracy of today’s college student understands that more of the “oppression” history that Sen. Obama is advocating is precisely the problem, not the solution. Our high school students already know who Harriet Tubman is, but not U.S. Grant or Shiloh. They have been introduced to Crispus Attucks, but not Alexander Hamilton. They know World War II largely as the Japanese internment and Hiroshima (cf. Reverend Wright on that), but have not a clue about the Bulge or Okinawa or the Munich travesty.
In other words, it is precisely this pick-and-choose therapeutic curriculum of "oppression" history presented as a melodrama of winners (white male Christian capitalists) and losers (women, people of color, the working classes) that has ensured an entire generation of historical illiterates, who can’t distinguish between the profound and trivial, or identify basic names, dates, and places to ground even their politically-correct views. They are told to remember and repeat that Hiroshima is bad, but not why or how it occurred, what were the alternatives, and what were the consequences in a war of bad and worse choices.
Instead the sins innate to mankind—war, oppression, slavery, bias, etc.—are nearly always presented as sins unique to the West in general, or to America in particular. We hear always of commission, never of the remediation, always of our terrible past, never of the pretty awful present that goes on outside the United States.
What we need from a healer at this late date is not advocacy for more gripe-history that tries to portion out equal victim status to various competing constituencies under the guise of multicultural brotherhood, but rather tries, in holistic and inclusive fashion, to explain both the noble and tragic history of the United States, an experiment that was and is not perfect, but still very good and preferable to all the alternatives.
What continues to be so disturbing about the Obama rhetoric is that in the abstract he always talks of utopian brotherhood and idealism, but whenever he devolves into the concrete, we learn that he promotes victimhood, identity politics, and subsidizes both by his presence and his purse racial intolerance and invective.
More disturbing still is that even to mention this disturbing contradiction is to incur the charge of being racist, or—in Obama’s own self-serving formulation—to confess that “the forces of division have started to raise their ugly heads again.”
Article printed from Works and Days: http://pjmedia.com/victordavishanson
URL to article: http://pjmedia.com/victordavishanson/the_obamastrophe