Race Issues Archives

Why “My President is Black” is incorrect

Via Malkin, it seems we have a new slogan, what with the election of Barack Obama.



Truth be told, Barack Obama is half black and half white. In other words, he’s biracial.

Martin Luther King said, in his I Have a Dream speech, that he dreamed of the day when his children would

not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

So, let’s encourage supporters of Barack Obama to start following Dr. King’s wishes, and not focus so much attention on the color of Obama’s skin. Or, if they must draw attention to it, to at least begin admitting that, Our President is Black & White.


That Little Thing Called Race

Apparently the left and progressives, as noted recently, find that race and its consequences are the most important historical axis/issue on which to judge American history. On Monday I had asked:

Is this what the left believes, that “race is the single most important and consequential issue in all of American history.” Really? Wow.

There are a number of arguments against this. Here is the first one. What is the most important issue, what is the most important factor to track when viewing history of American and indeed the larger international history?

Math. Specifically, the history and development of the body of Mathematical knowledge.

Consider first the following. Imagine for a moment American history without race. No civil war, no civil rights movement and so on. Possibly without a civil war America would have been in a different place regarding the power of the central government and perhaps in that light a weaker America might have reshaped the outcome of the brewing European conflicts.

But … picture instead a world history without technology, without the advances in power such as steam, oil, and electricity; without the transistor, the printed circuit; without automation and industrialization. Picture instead, America in a world in which technology was still at the level of the Roman era. Wars were still fought with spear, sword, and javelin. That there were no airplanes, instead galleys and sailing vessels still plowing the seas.
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The Narrative, Being Written

The conventional wisdom is that this upcoming election will be Obama’s in a walk-away.  Could be.  But on the chance he loses, Democrats are already writing the narrative they will use to explain it.

In a speech at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s annual convention in Cincinnati, [NY governor David] Paterson also suggested that the defeat of Senator Obama by Senator McCain in the presidential contest would be a victory for racism.

And he knows this because everything can be blames on racism.  The preceding paragraph notes:

Governor Paterson, who became New York’s first black governor following the resignation of Eliot Spitzer, is lashing out at the press for describing him as an "accidental governor," implying in a speech that the term’s frequent usage was motivated by racial bias.

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names are racist

The article actually goes on to note, contrary to Paterson’s contention that only he, as a black governor, has been termed "accidental", 3 other people (including President Bush) and 6 separate examples of politicians being referred to as "accidental".  The man has got a serious chip on his shoulder.

[tags]New York,Governor David Paterson,racism,Barack Obama,NAACP[/tags]

A Book and A Quote

Amy-Jill Levine is an interesting scholar. An Orthodox Jew she is at the same time, a Professor of New Testament studies in the Vanderbilt University Divinity school. I’ve recently read her book, The Misunderstood Jew: The Church and the Scandal of the Jewish Jesus. She makes to points in direct opposition to points made by blog neighbor David Schraub.  Mr Schraub has contended on a number of occasion that the notion of a Judeo-Christian tradition is a false one. Ms Levin’s entire thesis and work is built on that bridge. Additionally, he has in a number of occasions advocated that for various situations apology for wrongs generations ago should be made by the descendents. In opposition to this notion in the context of anti-Semitism, Ms Levine offers (on more than one occasion in this book):

 Park guilt and entitlement at the door before engaging in interfaith conversation. Some Christians come t the interfaith table so aware of their history of supersessionism, anti-Semitism, and violence against Jews that they avoid claiming that Jesus is the Messiah, for to do so would be telling Jews that Judaism is wrong. [….] Conversely, aware of the tragic histry of supersessionism, anti-Semitism, and violence against Jews, some Jews come the the table with a sense of entitlement: they seek apologies rather than engagement. Neither approach is useful. Christians today are not responsible for the sins of the past; Jews today are not in the position to grant forgiveness for those sins. Neither Judaism nor Christianity has a pristine history, and victimization is not something to be celebrated. [note: emphasis mine]

These highlight the twin problems which Mr Schraub and the “apology” advocates in Jewish or racial matters miss.

  1. Those in the present are not responsible for past sins and those descendents of those wronged are not in a position to grant absolution or forgiveness for those sins at any rate.
  2. Coming to the table with an expectation of entitlement or a consciousness of guilt is not conducive to engagement or rapprochement.

Congratulations, America!

It’s (mostly) official.  Barack Obama has clinched the Democratic presidential nomination, based on the number of convention delegates who are either pledged to him or are super-delegates that say they’ll vote for him.  Partisanship and politics aside, this is a fantastic day for America, having the first black candidate for the White House. 

I believe this isn’t so much a step on the journey as it is an indication — proof, if you will — that those steps have already been taken.  I’m proud of our country, and frankly I’d have been just as proud had Hillary Clinton been the first woman to lead a major party ticket.  That she was a viable candidate the entire way through the primary season also speaks to our progress on that journey.

(And now, let the games begin. >grin<)

[tags]US presidential campaign,Barack Obama,Hillary Clinton[/tags]

Ferraro on "Democrats’ Sexism"

Geraldine Ferraro discusses how the protracted and nasty Democratic primary season has split the party, enough for her to be concerned about November.

LAST YEAR at the beginning of the presidential primary season, Democrats were giddy with excitement. Not only did we have an embarrassment of riches in our candidates but we had two historic candidacies to enjoy. Once and for all our country would show that racism and sexism were not part of our 21st-century DNA.

Here we are at the end of the primary season, and the effects of racism and sexism on the campaign have resulted in a split within the Democratic Party that will not be easy to heal before election day. Perhaps it’s because neither the Barack Obama campaign nor the media seem to understand what is at the heart of the anger on the part of women who feel that Hillary Clinton was treated unfairly because she is a woman or what is fueling the concern of Reagan Democrats for whom sexism isn’t an issue, but reverse racism is.

As you may know, Ferraro is a Clinton supporter, so her criticism needs to be looked at through that lens. But the main issue here I think is that identity politics hath wrought this on the Democrats themselves. Frankly, I’ve not seen the sexism or racism Ferraro alludes to. I have read criticism of Obama from Clinton-supporting sites like TalkLeft, and I’ve read (rather nasty) criticism of Clinton from Obama-supporting sites like Daily Kos.

What I have seen are complaints that the Clintons are corrupt liars, Obama doesn’t have broad enough appeal within the base, jabs against folks in Appalachia, and other such sniping, but not sexism or racism. In fact, Ferraro’s column later notes that some are requesting an investigation in whether or not it actually happened.

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The Radical Wright

Obama could no sooner disown the Rev. Jeremiah Wright than he could disown the black community.  Well, at least up until the past few days.  He still hasn’t disowned him per se, but he certainly has tried to distance himself from his 20-year pastor.

But the discussion has been that what one heard from Wright’s pulpit was part and parcel of church in that selfsame black community.  But the LA Times has been asking black clergymen in LA and finds that, no, Wright’s rants aren’t necessarily mainstream.

In a series of nationally televised appearances over the last few days, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. has defended his controversial remarks as "prophetic theology," and said criticism of him amounted to an attack on the black church.
But most black church leaders and members reached Tuesday disagreed.

"This didn’t have anything to do with the black church — it was basically an attack on the individual message he proclaimed, which hurt some individuals," said the Rev. K.W. Tulloss of Weller Street Missionary Baptist Church in Boyle Heights. "My own members were offended by Rev. Wright’s words. His views have cast a wedge between people, and that’s the exact opposite of the unity Jesus represented."


Bishop John Bryant of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, who has known Wright for 30 years, said he would have used less provocative language.

"How one speaks is as important as the right to do so," Bryant said. "If it is done in an inflammatory way, the substance of the message gets lost in the rhetorical style."

Kerman Maddox, a member of First AME church in Los Angeles, said that he had listened to hundreds of sermons in black churches nationwide as part of his political and community work, and that Wright’s messages did "not represent mainstream black thought on Sunday morning."

He said he had never heard pastors curse America or proclaim, as Wright had, that the U.S. government caused AIDS among blacks. He said the common pulpit themes had long been unity, personal responsibility, loving your neighbor and improving your neighborhoods.

But the biggest concern Tuesday among local black religious leaders — and across a wide swath of black Los Angeles — was not about Wright’s words per se but about their impact on Obama’s historic campaign.

It’s been a while since all this came out; why didn’t anyone in the media think to ask these questions earlier? 

But the main question to me is this; what does this say about Obama himself?  He’s not running on experience — he’ll lose to McCain if he is — so one of main things to consider is his judgement.  If he’s shocked to find out that his own pastor is so far out of the mainstream after spending 20 years with him, that does not reflect well on that judgement.

Will He Get The Ferraro Treatment

Uh oh, don’t these Democrats realize that you simply can’t talk about this sort of thing in polite company?

Wading back into the Democratic presidential race, billionaire businessman Bob Johnson said Monday that Sen. Barack Obama would not be his party’s leading candidate if he were white.

Yes, apparently Mr. Johnson does recall Geraldine Ferraro’s remarks, and in fact agrees with them.

Johnson’s comments to the Observer echoed those of former vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro. She stepped down as an adviser to Sen. Hillary Clinton last month after saying Obama wouldn’t be where he is if he were white.

"What I believe Geraldine Ferraro meant is that if you take a freshman senator from Illinois called `Jerry Smith’ and he says I’m going to run for president, would he start off with 90 percent of the black vote?" Johnson said. "And the answer is, probably not… ."

"Geraldine Ferraro said it right. The problem is, Geraldine Ferraro is white. This campaign has such a hair-trigger on anything racial … it is almost impossible for anybody to say anything."

Well, I wouldn’t say Ferraro’s skin color was a "problem" in the general sense, because that shouldn’t have mattered.  Equally, Bob Johnson’s skin color shouldn’t matter either, but if you click here and pull up the web page for the article, you’ll notice that he is black.  Not only can he say that Obama’s color is a factor in his popularity, he can also say that it was a "problem" for Ferraro to say this because of her color.

Whether or not you agree with Johnson’s assessments, I highly doubt he’s going to come under fire nearly as much as Ferraro for what amounts to a restating and expanding of her comments.  Obama himself may take a shot back, but the uproar, or lack thereof, over this will be telling.

And again I have to come back to the question; who it is that really has a problem with this?  It’s Democrats, the ones who insist they have more common cause with Dr. King.  It’s not just that talking about racial issues (which they, like Obama, insist they want to have a conversation on) can be taboo, but it’s a different sized taboo (or none at all) depending on the race of the speaker.  Your opinion is simply not tolerated unless you are of a particular race. 

Isn’t that, y’know, the very definition of racism?  Isn’t this allegedly what political correctness — AKA liberal sensitivity — was supposed to remove?  And yet liberals find themselves yet again in a bed, nay coffin of their own making.  Identity politics is ripping the party apart, and now oversensitivity to racial issues is continuing the breakdown. 

The facade that is the Democratic party has some gaping fissures. 

New Poll: The Religious Wright

Senator Barack Obama gave a speech in Philadelphia yesterday on race issues.  The speech was precipitated by connections being drawn between Obama and his black liberation theology pastor of 20 years, Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

Many people have been turning to the Internet to view statements by his longtime pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who suggested in one sermon that the United States brought the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on itself and in another said blacks should damn America for continuing to mistreat them.

Obama rejected Wright’s divisive statements but still embraced the man who brought him to Christianity, officiated at his wedding, baptized his two daughters and inspired the title of his book "The Audacity of Hope."

Not disown, perhaps, but much of that association has been scrubbed from Obama’s website and elsewhere on the Internet.  And that’s begging the question; are Rev. Wright’s view extreme for black liberation theologySee here for Mark Olsen’s look into this.  If they are extreme, what does it say about the candidate who supports that church by his attendance and, likely, his money?  If they aren’t extreme, what does it say about the theology, in addition to the candidate?  [UPDATE: James Taranto reports that they may be more mainstream than some would like to think.]

So then, are a candidate’s pastor’s views fair game for consideration on the campaign trail?  Before you answer, consider how the occasional words of Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell have been used to paint evangelical Christians with a broad brush, both in the media and in the blogs.  But Falwell wasn’t, and Robertson isn’t, the pastor of the vast majority of those people for whom the Left likes to suggest they speak for.  Obama, on the other hand, attends by personal choice.  If the Left wants to make Robertson the spokesman for millions who may have not heard him speak, doesn’t that standard then apply to someone with a 20-year, close association with a presidential candidate? 

Or is there one standard for the Religious Right, and another for the Religious Wright?

Please vote in the poll on the right; do you think it’s fair game?

[tags]Barack Obama,Rev. Jeremiah Wright,race issues,Jerry Falwell,Pat Robertson,Religious Right,Christianity[/tags]

The "Identity Pileup"

When Maureen Dowd finally sees the problems brought on by identity politics, and calls it like it is, you can just see the chickens coming home to roost.  However, in the entire article, there’s something missing.  We’ll get to that, but first…

Dowd lays it on the line as to the choice that Democrats have to make.

With Obama saying the hour is upon us to elect a black man and Hillary saying the hour is upon us to elect a woman, the Democratic primary has become the ultimate nightmare of liberal identity politics. All the victimizations go tripping over each other and colliding, a competition of historical guilts.

People will have to choose which of America’s sins are greater, and which stain will have to be removed first. Is misogyny worse than racism, or is racism worse than misogyny?

As it turns out, making history is actually a way of being imprisoned by history. It’s all about the past. Will America’s racial past be expunged or America’s sexist past be expunged?

My question to this is; in spite of all the common cause the Democrats have made with Martin Luther King, whatever happened to "the content of their character"?  Or their policies, given that this is the highest office in the land?  Instead, Democrats are fixated on race and gender.

Oh, and age, too.

But Hillary — carried on the padded shoulders of the older women in Texas, Ohio and Rhode Island who loved her “I Will Survive” rallying cry that “I am a little older and I have earned every wrinkle on my face” — has been saved to fight another day.

And so we wind up with the very thing Democrats accuse Republicans of doing; voting (or not voting) for someone based on their gender or race or age or some other external characteristic rather than their positions.  This leaves Democrats in the unenviable position,and one of their own making, of seeming racist or sexist even if their true motives have nothing to do with either.

Welcome to our world, folks, where Republicans get accused by the Democrats, the media and the blogs of being racists and bigots regardless of how we explain our positions and our votes.  Stinks, doesn’t it?  So here’s what I see as missing from the article; can we possibly hope that this will be the end of identity politics?

I’m not so sure.  Dowd’s article, while noting the disaster awaiting Democrats…

Just as Michelle Obama urged blacks to support her husband, many shoulder-pad feminists are growing more fierce in charging that women who let Obama leapfrog over Hillary are traitors.

Julie Acevedo, a precinct captain for Obama in Austin, noticed that things were getting uglier on Friday, during the early voting, when she “saw some very angry women just stomping by us to go vote for Hillary. They cut us off when we tried to talk about Barack.

…doesn’t really seem to renounce it.  The sooner Democrats get rid of it, the sooner Spelman students will be able to make an informed decision as to whom to vote for.

[tags]Maureen Down,New York Times,Democrats,identity politics[/tags]

Thanks! … and a Reflection on Dr King and the Church

Thank you Doug (and the rest) for allowing me to be part of the conversations and the community you have here. On that note, here is a start (from my point of view).
Yesterday our Nation celebrated the remembrance of Dr King and his message. In the following, I reflect on the offerings found on two other blogs and some of my own thoughts on that event.

At Scriptorium Daily, Matt Jensen offers a short essay/homily. He starts by considering the term “catholic” in the creed, noting that Protestants need not tremble at the term, as it origin: “Its etymology renders it simply ‘according to the whole’.” Mr Jensen cites two ways in which catholic touch the Christian via creedal declaration. The first is, that it connects us to the church universal, to the rest of the worshipers alive and dead through the (almost) 2000 years of our history. The second is a more telling point, especially in light of the day. For this second meaning, unlike the first, should make Protestants, (big “C”) Catholics, and Orthodox all tremble a little as it indicts the current divided nature, the non-ecumenical nature of our church. Matt quotes Dr King:

Segregation, to use the terminology of the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, substitutes an “I- it” relationship for an “I-thou” relationship and ends up relegating persons to the status of things. Hence segregation is not only politically, economically and sociologically unsound, it is morally wrong and awful. Paul Tillich said that sin is separation. Is not segregation an existential expression ‘of man’s tragic separation, his awful estrangement, his terrible sinfulness? (‘Letter from a Birmingham Jail’)

The current state of our church is one of ecclesial segregation. A church where one see no goodness in man, and at the same time another can congratulate self for 0% agreement with Calvin, where ethnic, racial, and political division can all too often whelm our unity.

Brandon at Siris writes insightfully:

And that brings me to the view expressed in the title of this post. I’m inclined to think the divisions of the Church are rifts beyond all human healing; reunion comes not by human argument and scheming but by moral miracle, if at all. Neither you, nor I, nor anyone else can contribute anything to it except insofar as we may be instruments of it. The pen does not write for the writer, the scalpel does not have the wisdom of the surgeon, the staff does not possess deep insight into the ways of the shepherd. Our task is not to invent the solution to the problem. It is not to force the other side to listen. It is not invincibly to refute them. Our task is what it is in every other part of our lives, to walk the path of Christ in the manner of Christ, prayerfully and through His grace, doing good to those around us as is befitting of children of the Father, teaching not with clever words but with the power of the Spirit. Our task is to begin in the right place. And it is only if we do this that there is any sure hope at all in this regard; the only certainty for hope is in the Lord. Reunion will come not because we have designed it, not because we have been smarter than our opponents, not because we have brought it about; it will only come about, when and if it comes about, as a living outgrowth of the Spirit-inspired conversation of the saints through the ages.

Theology and theological cleverness will not unmake the division in our churches unless we recall that theology is not sophistry, philosophy, or cleverness. As Lossky writes, theology is conversation with God. It is, essentially then, prayer. It is, also, ultimately a rejection (or replacement) of Mr Buber’s quoted reference of Dr King noting the substitution “I->it” and “I->thou” … is incomplete. For the second, “I->thou” is also not what, I think, Christ, St. Paul, and the Saints and Fathers taught. We should always remember that arrow might be better written, “I-> (who am servant of)->thou” (note this parable also from Brandon). Those divisions and rifts also will not be healed until we remember, every Presbyterian, every Methodist, every Anglican, every Baptist, every Orthodox, every Evangelical, and every Catholic, and (really) everyone you meet needs to be treated as if he/she were Christ or his Angel.

CNN Readers Respond to ‘Race and Gender’ Story

And they’re not happy with it.

Within minutes of posting a story on CNN’s homepage called “Gender or race: Black women voters face tough choices in South Carolina,” readers reacted quickly and angrily.

Readers want media to focus more on the candidates and how they feel about the issues not their gender or race.

Many took umbrage at the story’s suggestion that black women voters face “a unique, and most unexpected dilemma” about voting their race or their gender.

CNN received dozens of e-mails shortly after posting the story, which focuses largely on conversations about Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama that a CNN reporter observed at a hair salon in South Carolina whose customers are predominantly African-American.

The story states: “For these women, a unique, and most unexpected dilemma, presents itself: Should they vote their race, or should they vote their gender?” Read the story

An e-mailer named Tiffany responded sarcastically: “Duh, I’m a black woman and here I am at the voting booth. Duh, since I’m illiterate I’ll pull down the lever for someone. Hm… Well, he black so I may vote for him… oh wait she a woman I may vote for her… What Ise gon’ do? Oh lordy!”

Frankly, it’s very heartening to hear this, after the news reports that the African-American women at Atlanta’s Spelman College were seriously fretting over this very question. Possibly, maybe, hopefully, this is the beginning of the end for identity politics.

[tags]identity politics,CNN,Spelman College,South Carolina,Hillary Clinton,Barack Obama[/tags]

You Don’t Know What You Think You Know About the “Jena 6”

If you’ve received all your information about the “Jena 6” from the mainstream media, Craig Franklin says that your information is almost entirely inaccurate, no thanks to “investigative” journalists.

There’s just one problem: The media got most of the basics wrong. In fact, I have never before witnessed such a disgrace in professional journalism. Myths replaced facts, and journalists abdicated their solemn duty to investigate every claim because they were seduced by a powerfully appealing but false narrative of racial injustice.

I should know. I live in Jena. My wife has taught at Jena High School for many years. And most important, I am probably the only reporter who has covered these events from the very beginning.

The reason the Jena cases have been propelled into the world spotlight is two-fold: First, because local officials did not speak publicly early on about the true events of the past year, the media simply formed their stories based on one-side’s statements – the Jena 6. Second, the media were downright lazy in their efforts to find the truth. Often, they simply reported what they’d read on blogs, which expressed only one side of the issue.

The real story of Jena and the Jena 6 is quite different from what the national media presented. It’s time to set the record straight.

He goes on to enumerate and explain 12 myths that have been put forth about this incident. And it’s not just the journalists’ fault, either. The Jacksons, Sharptons, and awards show that features these youths all participated in the spreading of these stories. It appears that no one learned a single thing from the Duke Lacrosse case, at least no one that needed to learn something.

The enthusiasm with which those that claim to care about race relations pounce on these situations without getting the full story first really minimizes cases of real racism. They themselves are responsible for desensitizing the American public to the presence of racism, which may not be as prevalent as Jackson and Sharpton pretend it is. But each time they yell about racism where it doesn’t exist, the public tends to tune them out more, and so the next time they have to yell louder to get noticed (e.g. comparing Jena to Selma in the civil rights fight). And when it turns out to be another non-story, the cycle continues.

Where racism exists, it should be confronted and exposed. But until they reserve their ire to real cases of racism and don’t jump to conclusions, the Jacksons and Sharptons of the world will only do harm to their cause.

[tags]Jena 6,Craig Franklin,media,journalism,Jesse Jackson,Al Sharpton,racism[/tags]

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