FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Obama Takes the Race Bait

Barack Obama made a fine speech yesterday but to paraphrase Bill Clinton on racial matters, he made it because of a “mugging” and he shouldn’t have had to have made it. The entire incident is a text book case of how the political class operates today and how woefully unprincipled many of them are both on an institutional and individual level. The news cycle is very quick these days and which issue has legs usually depends on the lack of “real” news-a major speech by someone in power, a celebrity/political sex scandal, explosions or a fast moving automobile in traffic, you get the idea. Not to say there isn’t enough chatter about all issues, at any given moment you could probably find a discussion on Canadian tariff policy on cable, but the news cycle is swift and if you get caught up in one you can easily be Spitzed.

Barack Obama’s “problem” with his middle class place of worship, the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, began in earnest with bluster from Fox News’s Offensive Noseguard Sean Hannity. Hannity’s researchers found some inflammatory rhetoric from a few years ago and off went running the usual suspects, including moral watchdog Bill Kristol who played it cool by saying Barack’s problem was not that he hangs out with radical Black Nationalist’s, which was Hannity and Tucker Carlson’s line, but that Obama is too much of a politician and Americans want more than that, this from the guy who supported George Bush. After the media storm front crashed down upon us the liberal types started the hand wringing at the New York Times, National Public Radio, and other sober bastions of normalcy. There line in general was that there is no place for such rhetoric in the United States where calm and balanced debate is the norm. Bull.

Contrary to what the political class is saying, discussion of race in the United States is a raucous affair. At the workplace, at the bar, on call in radio, at school, at Thanksgiving dinner all types of people are having wide open, vulgar, racially insensitive, amusing, ignorant and insightful conversations about how the “other” lives. Debate out here with the hoople is honest, often ill informed and visceral. In everyday discussion people get annoyed, irritated and angry. Debate for the most part is a contact sport where bruises and scratches occur and most people have fairly stable positions that have been hardened over the years of investment. This is not to say that minds are not changed in this dialectic but rough point counterpoint is more the norm than a meeting of the minds.

That’s why the brouhaha over Obama’s former preacher is a red herring. Unless a complete tara-ra-goon-de-ay most people know that Black Nationalism is a major theme in discussion of race today. It’s a major theme in Hip Hop, in the academe, in literature and in the Black Church. It’s usually combined with a bit of self help; pick yourself up by your bootstraps rhetoric, a historical analysis of racial injustice and an appeal for social justice. It also has a little whitey bashing. Big deal. We all know this and to act as if it doesn’t happen, and worse needs to be denounced, is dangerous. It is actually a call for censorship. We all do not aspire to speak with the $8 words of William F. Buckley or speak in the mild tones of Tom Brokaw. Real debate makes people uncomfortable; it challenges the premise of your argument and hopefully in the long hall alters our views. In the 1960’s Malcolm X and Stokely Carmichael demanded Black Power and made Martin Luther King look the moderate even though for the most part he was regarded as a trouble maker by the establishment. Without the pressure of social movements, both Right and Left, the center holds and nothing changes. Social movements are not led by the NPR types in the world.

Barack Obama is no radical and we all know it. He chose a moderate Black Church because he wanted some connection with his history. He is of both the white and black world and he has heard the honest discussion on both sides. Depending on where you work and live most of us have actually heard the honest debate. That’s actually a good thing. Let’s keep up that debate not try to be contained to the hushed tones of NPR. Otherwise nothing will change.

CHRISTOPHER FONS teaches US history in Milwaukee and runs the Red and the Black website. He can be reached at: fonscy@yahoo.com

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

February 21, 2019
Nick Pemberton
Israel, Venezuela and Nationalism In The Neoliberal Era
Chris Orlet
The Bill and Melinda Gates’ Fair Taxation Scaremongering Tour
Bruce E. Levine
“Heavy Drinking” and the NYT’s Offensive Obit on Herbert Fingarette
Lisi Krall
This Historical Moment Demands Transformation of Our Institutions. The Green New Deal Won’t Do That
Stephanie Savell
Mapping the American War on Terror: Now in 80 Countries
Daniel Warner
New York, New York: a Resounding Victory for New York Over Amazon
Russell Mokhiber
With Monsanto and Glyphosate on the Run AAAS Revokes Award to Scientists Whose Studies Led to Ban on Weedkiller in Sri Lanka and Other Countries
Jesse Jackson
Trump’s Fake National Emergency Moves America Closer to an Autocracy
Alex Campbell
Tracing the Threads in Venezuela: Humanitarian Aid
Jonah Raskin
Mitchel Cohen Takes on Global and Local Goliaths: Profile of a Lifelong Multi-Movement Organizer
Binoy Kampmark
Size Matters: the Demise of the Airbus A380
February 20, 2019
Anthony DiMaggio
Withdrawal Pains and Syrian Civil War: An Analysis of U.S. Media Discourse
Charles Pierson
When Saudi Arabia Gets the Bomb
Doug Johnson Hatlem
“Electability” is Real (Unless Married with the Junk Science of Ideological Spectrum Analysis)
Kenneth Surin
The Atlantic Coast Pipeline: Another Boondoggle in Virginia
John Feffer
The Psychology of the Wall
Dean Baker
Modern Monetary Theory and Taxing the Rich
Russell Mokhiber
Citizens Arrested Calling Out Manchin on Rockwool
George Ochenski
Unconstitutional Power Grabs
Michael T. Klare
War With China? It’s Already Under Way
Thomas Knapp
The Real Emergency Isn’t About the Wall, It’s About the Separation of Powers
Manuel García, Jr.
Two Worlds
Daniel Warner
The Martin Ennals and Victorian Prize Winners Contrast with Australia’s Policies against Human Dignity
Norman Solomon
What the Bernie Sanders 2020 Campaign Means for Progressives
Dan Corjescu
2020 Vision: A Strategy of Courage
Matthew Johnson
Why Protest Trump When We Can Impeach Him?
William A. Cohn
Something New and Something Old: a Story Still Being Told
Bill Martin
The Fourth Hypothesis: the Present Juncture of the Trump Clarification and the Watershed Moment on the Washington Mall
February 19, 2019
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Troublesome Possibilities: The Left and Tulsi Gabbard
Patrick Cockburn
She Didn’t Start the Fire: Why Attack the ISIS Bride?
Evaggelos Vallianatos
Literature and Theater During War: Why Euripides Still Matters
Maximilian Werner
The Night of Terror: Wyoming Game and Fish’s Latest Attempt to Close the Book on the Mark Uptain Tragedy
Conn Hallinan
Erdogan is Destined for Another Rebuke in Turkey
Nyla Ali Khan
Politics of Jammu and Kashmir: The Only Viable Way is Forward
Mark Ashwill
On the Outside Looking In: an American in Vietnam
Joyce Nelson
Sir Richard Branson’s Venezuelan-Border PR Stunt
Ron Jacobs
Day of Remembrance and the Music of Anthony Brown        
Cesar Chelala
Women’s Critical Role in Saving the Environment
February 18, 2019
Paul Street
31 Actual National Emergencies
Robert Fisk
What Happened to the Remains of Khashoggi’s Predecessor?
David Mattson
When Grizzly Bears Go Bad: Constructions of Victimhood and Blame
Julian Vigo
USMCA’s Outsourcing of Free Speech to Big Tech
George Wuerthner
How the BLM Serves the West’s Welfare Ranchers
Christopher Fons
The Crimes of Elliot Abrams
Thomas Knapp
The First Rule of AIPAC Is: You Do Not Talk about AIPAC
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail