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View Full Version : If Obama Wasn't Black Before, He Sure Is Now


Bloggingheads
03-20-2008, 08:39 PM

Eastwest
03-20-2008, 08:57 PM
Just finished listening to Glen Loury's initial "spiel" (his word).

He nailed it.

This just goes to show the correctness of Shelby Steele's most recent take wherein he points out that there is an implicit "deal" inherent in the Obamaphiles agreeing to be bought out of their white guilt, but only in return for Obama not being a "challenger" (in the mold of say Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton), but rather instead agreeing to be one willing to "pass" so-to-speak by remaining largely agreeable and two-dimensional.

I knew that if Obama was allowed to have to keep campaigning after Texas and Ohio, he was almost certainly bound to allow his third dimension to surface. (This is the so-called "kryptonite" of Black anger which he seemed only barely able to contain in his speech, having toned it down to sanctimonious sermonization mode.)

EW

cjsmith
03-20-2008, 09:02 PM
First off, these guys are both excellent. Maybe the best pairing on the site right now imo.

On Glenn's point towards the beginning where he lists the litany of episodes where the Clinton camp directly or indirectly was accused of racist stuff--e.g. Bill saying Obama is just like Jesse Jackson, Hillary's comment on LBJ vs. MLK, Geraldine Ferraro, etc.

I think he is right that those did get overblown in terms of race. But he misses a deeper point I think. I was very angry at those comments (I'm white if that info is important) not due to the racial element per se but because it was so dismissive of his candidacy period. It is part of Hillary having run as the inevitable candidate who deserves the nomination. She thinks it's her time and can not understand why someone like me wouldn't support her campaign.

So Bill says Obama's position on Iraq is a fairy tale. Ferraro says the country is caught up in a concept. As I see it, the Clintons just can't seem to grasp that he has (to date) run a much more disciplined, better organized campaign, has a better message, frankly is a better politician than her imo.

Now when that establishment mindset I think comes across from the Clinton camp, the fact that they are white and he is black and they seem to be saying in no uncertain terms, "wait your turn/it's not your time", then I take Glenn's point, but how does that not come off (in terms of the optics) as racial? Again I'm not saying it is intended as such, but I can't see how it doesn't appear that way nonetheless.

graz
03-20-2008, 09:40 PM
Just finished listening to Glen Loury's initial "spiel" (his word).

He nailed it.

This just goes to show the correctness of Shelby Steele's most recent take wherein he points out that there is an implicit "deal" inherent in the Obamaphiles agreeing to be bought out of their white guilt, but only in return for Obama not being a "challenger" (in the mold of say Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton), but rather instead one willing to "pass" so-to-speak by remaining largely agreeable and two-dimensional.

I knew that if Obama was allowed to have to keep campaigning after Texas and Ohio, he was almost certainly bound to allow his third dimension to surface. (This is the so-called "kryptonite" of Black anger which he seemed only barely able to contain in his speak, having toned it down to sanctimonious sermonization mode.)

EW
EW:

I must respectfully and in a cool-headed mode -note no Black anger here- disagree with your characterization of the "speak" (sic) as sanctimonious and a sermon. It's funny how we seemingly speak and understand the same language yet, what I heard as brave and inspiring you hear as the exact opposite. I also view him as nearly diametrically opposed to Sharpton and Jackson.
Any chance we can meet in the middle of the compass?

Eastwest
03-20-2008, 10:00 PM
RE: GRAZ's

disagree with your characterization of the "speak" (sic) as sanctimonious and a sermon. Its funny how we seemingly speak and understand the same language yet, what I heard as brave and inspiring you hear as the exact opposite.


Oh, I believe it was "brave" (but perhaps suicidal).

I can also see why some would find it "inspiring."

Still, listen to Loury's "spiel" again and closely. Obama finally had his stratagem blow up on him, got into trouble on account of it, and chooses to try and get out of his trouble with this lecture.

(BTW, you may care to watch and listen to Obama's speech again at some point: mostly unsmiling, stern, nearly monotonol compared to his usual style, thumping the podium over, and over, and over. Fine, an important and useful speech which perhaps might have had a place after his election to the presidency.

But frankly he was talking down to his audience, not quite with a set jaw, like a mildly peeved professor, to students in need of instruction.

In short, the right speech, but given at the wrong time on the wrong occasion, and for the wrong reasons.

EW

Jay J
03-20-2008, 10:04 PM
I suppose John could be right about the reaction of many white people to this recent Rev. Wright mess. Clinton and McCain both lead Obama nationwide for the first time.

If anyone was interested in Barack Obama because he was black in the first place, then they were building on a sandy foundation. What I mean is that it's not the best reason to begin with. As for me, I don't care that so many black people support Obama, or that some hypothetical white leftists support him because he's got black skin, I support Obama because I happen to think that he's the best candidate. There are many reasons I believe this, but it can be summarized by saying that he's the best candidate in the field, nothing more, nothing less.

If this recent mess is what's changed people's minds, then that will be very disheartening.

I'm not as forgiving as many on the hard left, meaning I think it was important for Obama to at least say that he disagreed with Rev. Wright's comments (at least the most incendiary ones). Once he did that, it was enough for me.

I'm also not too big on having a big conversation about what I as a white person need to do. My views are pretty close to Obama's, not because of what I think about black people or race relations in America, but rather because of what I think about people in general.

I sympathize with the predicament people have in finding spiritual homes for themselves and their families, and that sometimes leaving this place because of this or that political stance will be to trade in all the spiritual benefits gained from membership. Not all churches are equally equipped to provide what each family needs...different strokes for different folks.

This is why I'm usually pretty hands-off with people and what church they belong to, whether it's seen as black or white, left-wing or right-wing. What they do in the world is more important to me.

And none of this has anything to do with needing to have a nuanced understanding of the roots of Rev. Wright's frustration in order to say that he went overboard, and that I wish for my President to not revel in attitudes which can be expressed by the words "God Damn America." So long as Obama doesn't agree with that tone, that's enough for me, then it's not all that important to me any more what Jeremiah Wright thinks.

Wonderment
03-20-2008, 10:13 PM
This was a really brilliant dialogue on many levels -- so many insights into this disturbing controversy. I wish John and Glenn were getting the millions of downloads that the Wright soundbites are.

As long as we're indulging in the Christian metaphors, the Jeremiah Wright controversy -- which I'm guessing will sooner or later destroy Obama's chance of getting elected president -- strikes me as an obscene right-wing crucifixion story.

The right wing wouldn't rest until they could find a way to transform Obama into a subversive enemy of the Empire, to make the story a racial narrative, to pull a Willie Horton out of the Internet ether and discredit Obama. Where's the crazy black dude? Where's OJ? Where's Rodney King? Oh there he is: Jeremiah Goddamnamerica Wright.

Of course, this is a double crucifixion. Rev. Wright also gets hung up on the cross. It's worse for him, since everyone in the MSM has vilified him, including all the Obama supporters.

graz
03-20-2008, 10:16 PM
EW:

I going to give you the benefit of the doubt and acknowledge that you really believe this "reading of the events." But, I have to say that you seem to be reading to much into an interpretation based on "style points." Let both the words alone and then the actual viewing speak for themselves. This reprises an earlier debate yesterday between Bob and Mickey.

Mickey:" The speech was a disaster."

Bob:" Well since it was so well received by so many, your analysis might be off the mark"

Alsworth coined the name - Kausmind - to explain an interpretation that flies in the face of reason and facts.

I hope it is not contagious.

Peace

StillmanThomas
03-20-2008, 10:37 PM
This is one of the best diavlogs I've ever seen on BHTV. I love Dr. Loury, although his (to me) somewhat cynical support for Hillary Clinton has bothered me a bit. A few months ago he was dismissive of Barack Obama, saying in effect, "I'm supporting the adults" in this primary fight. It's good to see that he's finally coming to appreciate Obama's brilliance and uniqueness, even if he's not going to switch his support.

All of this blather about race is understandable I suppose, but frustrating nonetheless. I'm a white male in my late 50s. I remember when Jimi Hendrix came on the scene, I was absolutely floored by his talent. He was electrifying, a genius, who took guitar playing to a level never before seen or heard. Did I love him because he was black? Not at all. In spite of the fact that he was black? Not that I know of. I loved his music! It's as simple as that. I knew that I was hearing something that I had never heard before, and I couldn't turn away.

Some years later, Stevie Ray Vaughan came on the scene, and in some ways, played better than Hendrix. But he got there by imitating Hendrix! It took me awhile to understand where he was coming from, but again, I loved his music, heard something I had never heard before. Was it because he was white? Not at all. When you close your eyes and surrender to the music, it doesn't matter what color he was.

That's the way I feel, and have always felt about Obama. I'm hearing something from him, a virtuosity, that I've never heard before. I love his music. I don't care what color he is. I know that Bessie Smith's blackness informed her music, but it's her music that I love. So, Obama's black-whiteness informs his genius. But so what? I'm not a musicologist, I'm a music lover.

So, gentlemen, with all due respect and a love for you both, can't we all just shut up about race, close our eyes and listen to the music? It's magnificent!

Jay J
03-20-2008, 10:47 PM
Man, and I thought I was post-racial. Next to you I'm a Critical Race Theorist.

BTW, that line,

"I'm not a musicologist, I'm a music lover,"

I love that.

graz
03-20-2008, 10:48 PM
Bokonon:
Thanks for the reminder. Jimi or Stevie?
Your right, no need to argue, just listen... sweet music indeed.

bjkeefe
03-20-2008, 11:14 PM
The hope (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/9590?in=56:34&out=56:45).

My response: More than worthy, Glenn. Whether you and John are polarized on a topic or running in parallel, I always find your diavlogs instructive. Not to mention enjoyable.

Regarding this one specifically, there's a difference between being in agreement and just agreeing with each other. In the first case, there is still the opportunity for a lot of ideas to be brought forth. That's what you all did.

Glaurunge
03-21-2008, 12:13 AM
To be honest, this seems like one big contrived controversy to me. It's almost unbelievable how obtuse so many right wingers are. When you try asking what exactly Obama's pastor said that was so abhorent, they either can't articulate anything specific, or they say something completely untrue such as "he believes in black supremacy." Thus, I think they object to the style of Wright more than anything else. He seems to be very flamboyant and animated in his sermons, and I think a lot of Americans just can't comprehend that other varieties and flavors of Christianity manifest themselves in different ways from one cultural group to the next.

They also seem to conflate Wright's acknowledgment of racism's mere existense in America with some kind of ant-white black seperatism that is itself racist. Racism exists whether we like to admit it or not. Refusing to ignore that fact doesn't make one "divisive" or "racially charged" in any way, shape or form. It's a factual statement, albeit one that Wright choose to express in a very colourful way.

The worst are the Fox News types who can't get it through their thick troglodyte skulls that a society with legally enshrined racism for a hundred years would likely reflect those same racist values in their churches. They'll ask, "But what if John McCain belonged to a white church?" The fact is, again whether one wants to acknowledge it or not, that America is a basically white society, and institutions like churches reflect that society. So there is no need to identify any church as "white." Doing so would be redundant because "white" is already the default setting to begin with. Therfore, explicitly advertising a church's whiteness can only be for the purpose of emphasizing white exclusivity. However the same is not true of black churches.

Admittedly, Wright's statment about AIDS was crazy but not out of the bounds usually aforded to religious ideas about science. Again, this is why I think the "controversy" is more about style than substance. We do after all have a President who doesn't believe in evolution and wants "both sides" taught in schools. But if one doesn't believe in evolution then AIDS couldn't have arisen by means of natural selection, in which case it might indeed seem reasonable to suspect it had an "intelligent" human designer, right?

beve83
03-21-2008, 12:55 AM
I love John and Glen's diavlogs! I'm sending this viral! Talk about an adult conversation that really looks to the hear of whats "uncomfortable" to talk about in regards to race. You guys are great, I hope you do more.

Wonderment
03-21-2008, 02:23 AM
It's almost unbelievable how obtuse so many right wingers are. When you try asking what exactly Obama's pastor said that was so abhorent, they either can't articulate anything specific, or they say something completely untrue such as "he believes in black supremacy."

There's nothing there, but the right-wing media has every progressive in America apologizing for nothing and shunning Wright. After reviewing every sermon every taped, they've come up with one dumb comment about AIDS. Period.

Wonderment
03-21-2008, 02:58 AM
"God didn't call America to engage in a senseless, unjust war. . . . And we are criminals in that war. We've committed more war crimes almost than any nation in the world, and I'm going to continue to say it. And we won't stop it because of our pride and our arrogance as a nation. But God has a way of even putting nations in their place."

Martin Luther King, Jr., Feb. 4, 1968

As quoted by EJ Dionne in today's WPost.

benjy
03-21-2008, 05:24 AM
Much as I love Bob and Mickey and their loving banter, Mickey should be forced to listen to and ponder this diavlog--the quality of this discussion is just so much higher than Bob and Mickey's analysis yesterday. Of course if we were discussing evolutionary psychology Bob would be in his element and if Mickey were discussing....what exactly is Mickey's element again? ;) I would just point out that if Mickey or anyone else is so caught up on a line about Obama's grandmother, etc. and whether he's equating her statements with Wright's (which he clearly isn't as pointed out in this diavlog) or how could Obama not repudiate Wright for expressing anger in such a way, they're missing the depth of Obama's speech and not, either through lack of effort or lack of ability, sufficiently understanding where the feelings behind Wright's words are coming from--not to justify Wright's statements, and clearly in the ones we've seen played over and over he's being a demagogue and saying things for shock value...and clearly some of his statements aren't supported by evidence and aren't more than far-fetched conspiracy theories stated as fact, and he should be more careful in a public forum and given the influence he has over especially the younger members of his church. But as Glenn expressed in the diavlog, clearly there are many things wrong with America and that we have done wrong, and its a shame that because Wright expressed them sometimes unartfully we can't discuss the facts all the same--if someone can't admit that there are problems and injustices in America as everywhere they're simply wilfully blind, and while politically statements like those made by Wright are suicide, a discussion of America's ills and wrongs is a discussion of simple fact. But of course as Barack said in his speech there are also many things right with America--of course in any country there's good and bad mixed together, but that's so obvious it surely doesn't have to be stated on Bloggingheads comments, yet of course continues to be a controversial statement out in some parts of the world (really abroad most of our wrongs are caused by us having too much power, not whether Americans are somehow worse or better people than others, but I digress) And we aren't voting for Wright for president, and Obama doesn't say things like this--what we're talking about is how could Obama (and why should we) at least understand where the sentiments and anger are coming from...and as Obama often talks about, what it really comes down to at the end of the day is whether we make an honest attempt, as flawed and often self-centered human beings, to apply the golden rule. Of course this is extremely difficult, and probably none of us is perfect at it, maybe not even St. Obama himself ;) But Ashley's wanting to help her mother in her nine year old way and the man who said he was "here because of Ashley" is such a moving story precisely because its an expression of the golden rule, which is what at its best is what's at the heart of Obama's candidacy, and is where we start on any issues of fairness and caring and love (gets me every time :)) But on average, at this point at least, and just as John hated to say it so do I, (and I would qualify it that there are always exceptions and more open or closed-minded people in any socioeconomic group, and downstate Illinois and in Iowa etc. there were clearly many exceptions and there will be hopefully even more in the future), but demographically it is an issue of education level and political views as to which whites understand and empathize with what Obama was saying in his speech and are more open to the types of arguments and nuance in general in understanding complex issues. It sure would be nice if people were smart enough to discuss things as adults on a truly deep and complex level, but as John and Glenn said we'll have to see how this plays out. But don't be too depressed, John--Kristof's and Cohen's piece as well as the Times' editorial were all great, and there's a huge group of people out there who care and were greatly moved by Obama's speech, as we have been so many times before....this is what I really care about about Obama--when he talks about things on a deeper level--when you say its as if the speech were written by God, its true that when someone has a gift you're basically seeing God through that person or their deeds (I say this as an atheist, but I speak metaphorically for myself) And what's interesting when you've followed Obama long enough, its not in the least surprising that he wrote the speech so quickly and it was great--he's basically just putting down the core of himself on paper, and he knows himself so well and has written about himself and his thoughts and development so extensively that its surely fairly easy for him to write the speech he gave this week--he's done the work for it his whole life, so the work this week is just organization, phrasing, which points to make or leave out and how, etc... And also John, don't think that all whites (or hopefully even most, although I have no data beyond my fairly homogenous anectdotal evidence) only like Barack when he's transcending race--what happened this week and Barack's speech and the discussion, at least the deeper level discussion, which has ensued is far more interesting to me than hearing Fired Up, Ready to Go for the ten-thousandth time--any complexity and going deeper into issues is always satisfying, and if we really do it, healing. Not that I'm perfect either of course, but anyway this weeks events absolutely make me feel more connected not less to Obama. Anyway, John and Glenn you are both so smart, its such a pleasure to listen to your discussions--its just so satisfying to hear arguments made so well and fully fleshed out and explored in depth, and language used so well in service of those arguments and a true dialogue... One slight criticism I've had recently of the political discussions is what I've considered an excess of inside the beltway type discussion and too few diavlogs discussing the underlying moral, philosophical, cultural, etc. issues that go deeper into the issues and why they're important--as Barack puts it, not only how to win an election, but why one side or the other should (he says why WE should of course) Alright, as I stay up far too late listening to diavlogs (you guys are hurting my sleeping schedule!!), I'll just say thank you again, and hope I didn't make too many typos :)

hans gruber
03-21-2008, 05:30 AM
I really enjoy these two, even though I often disagree. But this "what's the big deal" meme over Wright really rubs me the wrong way. We've got three or four commenters spouting similar garbage. No matter, you're free to think this sort of anti-American, vile, racist rhetoric should be spread by the pastor of a potential POTUS. But most Americans will disagree. Most Americans can't fathom a POTUS associating so closely with such a lunatic.

Liberals often wonder why ordinary Americans sometimes question their patriotism. Well, I can't think of a better exposition of where that sort of feeling emanates from than "Wonderment" and company here. When the pastor of a potential president screams "GOD DAMN AMERICA" and you don't have a problem with that, normal people begin to wonder.

I'd never vote for Obama. And I have long known about Wright and his anti-American radicalism. But I've always had a positive perception of Obama as a man. I didn't like his politics but I thought the man seemed like a good person. Recent events have reversed this perception. So, Obama FINALLY gets exposed on the Wright front. And instead of making good with the American people and disowning or distancing himself from this loon, he sees fit to lecture the American people on race. Well, Mr. Obama, most of America hasn't associated themselves with a blatant racist lunatic like Wright. And, no, your Granny's reluctance to ride the bus isn't tantamount to your pastor's racist rants. But thanks for the history lesson, jerk.

I didn't think it was possible for Democrats to pick an even bigger dud than John Kerry, but it looks like they've done it again, snatching defeat from the jaws of certain victory.

LordBaltimore
03-21-2008, 08:01 AM
One positive result of the Wright imbroglio is that the anti-Obama forces who are trying to sell the idea that Obama has been to THAT CHURCH every Sunday for the past 20 years and is a true believer of the Wright message will find it hard to simultaneously sell the idea that he's actually a Muslim who's just pretending to be Christian.

I suppose it's hard to figure whether the Obama-is-really-a-Muslim meme is harder to fight against than the Obama's-preacher-is-a-lunatic one, but given that many people, including presidential candidates, have preachers who sometimes go over the line, I think Obama may end up being less hurt by Wright, as soon as the initial publicity blows over, than some people think.

Bloggin' Noggin
03-21-2008, 09:10 AM
This just goes to show the correctness of Shelby Steele's most recent take wherein he points out that there is an implicit "deal" inherent in the Obamaphiles agreeing to be bought out of their white guilt, but only in return for Obama not being a "challenger" (in the mold of say Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton), but rather instead agreeing to be one willing to "pass" so-to-speak by remaining largely agreeable and two-dimensional.

Apparently there were some white people who answered polls a few weeks ago that they would vote for Obama who now answer polls saying that they won't. As far as I'm aware it's a few percentage points so far.
Most of these people were probably not "Obamaphiles" in any meaningful sense -- the level of support indicated by the poll is just that you would be inclined to pick Obama over the other person if the election were held today. NOT an indication of real support.
What then is the evidence that white "Obamaphiles" are abandoning him in droves because they wanted him to be black without being black? I count myself as even more of an Obamaphile after that speech.

As for the lack of table thumping, let me let you in on a little secret of oratory: it is possible to match one's tone and demeanor to the occasion and to the words one is actually speaking. Obama understands this -- one of those (to you) mysterious elements of his oratorical appeal. Besides people like you would surely have capitalized on his resemblance to Jeremiah Wright if he had thumped the table. There's no way Obama can win with you -- that's clear enough. Fortunately he doesn't have to win you over. I just hope he can get a majority of the voting electorate in November

Thus Spoke Elvis
03-21-2008, 09:44 AM
I don't know if it's a good thing or a bad thing that most Americans have forgotten or are unaware of MLK's post-1963 activities. He was a very controversial figure. I've talked to several people who lived through that time who have less uniformally positive opinions of MLK than the current generation, and it's not because they're racist.

You_had_me_at_hello
03-21-2008, 10:52 AM
testing again

Kausophile
03-21-2008, 11:04 AM
I don't think I understand John's point about "the conversation about race" that he says "black people" want to have. (I can't dingalink because I can't use Flash where I usually listen to vlogs.) Glenn says he sees where John is "going with this." I don't. Can anyone help? Wouldn't a "conversation" go two ways, and not be only about what one side wants the other side to hear? Or is this John's point -- that this desired "conversation" has been defined in a special way? Thanks for your aid.

Glaurunge
03-21-2008, 11:11 AM
No matter, you're free to think this sort of anti-American, vile, racist rhetoric should be spread by the pastor of a potential POTUS. But most Americans will disagree.

Please back up your allegations by providing at least one citation of a racist remarks by Wright. Hint: Merely acknowledging the existence of racism doesn't count.


Liberals often wonder why ordinary Americans sometimes question their patriotism. Well, I can't think of a better exposition of where that sort of feeling emanates from than "Wonderment" and company here. When the pastor of a potential president screams "GOD DAMN AMERICA" and you don't have a problem with that, normal people begin to wonder.


I don't need to wonder why "ordinary Americans" question the patriotism of others. It's plainly evident that those who do so are trying to aviod a real debate by discrediting anyone who questions the policies of the American government. This is basic stuff. Every five year old knows that when you can't win an arguement you resort to name calling.

Also, did you even understand the context of "God Damn America"? Would you prefer something like "God bless America for treating some people as less than human"?




I'd never vote for Obama. And I have long known about Wright and his anti-American radicalism. But I've always had a positive perception of Obama as a man. I didn't like his politics but I thought the man seemed like a good person. Recent events have reversed this perception. So, Obama FINALLY gets exposed on the Wright front. And instead of making good with the American people and disowning or distancing himself from this loon, he sees fit to lecture the American people on race. Well, Mr. Obama, most of America hasn't associated themselves with a blatant racist lunatic like Wright. And, no, your Granny's reluctance to ride the bus isn't tantamount to your pastor's racist rants. But thanks for the history lesson, jerk.


Again, do you have any evidence to back up your charges of "racism, radicalisn and anti-Americanism?" I know these memes are making the rounds of the right wing echo chamer, and it's all just recieved wisdom at this point. However, if you want to have an intelligent discussion then you need to provide some kind of citation and explalin why you characterize as such.

Abu Noor Al-Irlandee
03-21-2008, 11:31 AM
I don't know if it's a good thing or a bad thing that most Americans have forgotten or are unaware of MLK's post-1963 activities. He was a very controversial figure. I've talked to several people who lived through that time who have less uniformally positive opinions of MLK than the current generation, and it's not because they're racist.

Thus Spoke Elvis,

Yeah, wanting to address poverty and segregation in the north and end the war in Vietnam are pretty controversial. Actually, you are of course correct that MLK was controversial, but he wasn't just controversial post 1963. He was controversial pre-1963 too. It is certainly true that most Americans (perhaps most people, I don't know?) are ignorant of history, and when certain figures are beat into their head, like MLK, they are taught about them in Disney History version that is supposed to only reinforce patriotism and the status quo rather than examining the real issues that MLK faced and what lessons they have for today.

I really thought this was a good diavlog but while I identify with the sentiment of disappointment of Mr. McWhorter I do have to say that the silliest expectation would be the idea that social progress is made by just having dialogue and then people who are bigots or oppressors realize that they were wrong and then they happily change their behavior. While dialogue is important and learning and changing are possible, change comes about through STRUGGLE. You have to put your self as well as your ideas on the line and be prepared to know that people will resist you, insult you, attack you and everything else. And the outcome is never easy nor ever guaranteed. That's not why you engage in struggle. And to expect our moral leadership to come from politicians or out of the political process is a bit silly.

http://abunooralirlandee.wordpress.com

Thus Spoke Elvis
03-21-2008, 11:33 AM
Much as I love Bob and Mickey and their loving banter, Mickey should be forced to listen to and ponder this diavlog--the quality of this discussion is just so much higher than Bob and Mickey's analysis yesterday.

I preferred John and Glenn's diavlog to Mickey and Bob's as well. But in defense of Mickey, the diavlogs were approaching the speech from two different perspectives. John and Glenn were analyzing the speech from an intellectual perspective, discussing the merit of the ideas it raises and postulating why the people from different backgrounds would have different reactions to it. Mickey and Bob, on the other hand, focused primarily on the speech's political implications. Mickey himself said he thought it was in many ways a great speech, and I'm guessing he'd agree with much of John and Glenn's intellectual analysis. But his argument was that it would not be a politically effective speech -- an opinion McWhorter, at least, appears to share.

Thus Spoke Elvis
03-21-2008, 11:52 AM
Thus Spoke Elvis,

Yeah, wanting to address poverty and segregation in the north and end the war in Vietnam are pretty controversial. Actually, you are of course correct that MLK was controversial, but he wasn't just controversial post 1963. He was controversial pre-1963 too. It is certainly true that most Americans (perhaps most people, I don't know?) are ignorant of history, and when certain figures are beat into their head, like MLK, they are taught about them in Disney History version that is supposed to only reinforce patriotism and the status quo rather than examining the real issues that MLK faced and what lessons they have for today.

We seem to be in general agreement that MLK's legacy has been sanitized, but I don't think it was merely the fact that King wished to end the Vietnam war and address poverty that made him controversial, as you seem to suggest. Rather, it was the rhetoric that he used and, in the case of poverty, the proposals he advocated, that offended or scared many people.

Further, while almost every living American (thankfully) recognizes that King was right about the evils of segregation, that doesn't mean that he must therefore have been right about every other issue. King's remembered and praised for the issue he unquestionably got right, and we've (purposefully?) forgotten those traits and activities that may tarnish that legacy. It's something we do with most heroes.

Anyuser
03-21-2008, 11:57 AM
I don’t understand the logic of the assertion that anyone bothered by Obama’s association with Rev. Wright is a right-wing racist. The argument seems to be that a desire for “racial transcendence,” which is a large part of Obama’s appeal, is inherently racist. Moreover, Wright and his church are “authentically black,” and to be put off by them is also racist.

Suppose it were to be discovered that a white candidate, an outspoken proponent of racial justice, had for twenty years attended a church led by the white equivalent of Rev. Wright. Wouldn’t that be a bfd?

There are racial ironies, so to speak, everywhere you look. The white electorate no doubt expects Obama to be not “too” black, but at the same time I, and every white voter I talk to, think it would be a thrilling, landmark event in American history to elect a black president. We want a black president who will effect racial transcendence. Ferraro was right: I am caught up in the concept, because it’s a helluva concept.

I like McWhorter a lot, and I share his despair, but he’s thinking too much. A presidential election is not an essay exam. It’s a massive statement of the obvious that most voters prefer a presidential candidate who is red white and blue, and also “relatable.” It will be interesting to see if Obama has the political skills to get the electorate past the sheer exoticism of his church. It’s going to take more than one speech. I’m rooting for him.

bjkeefe
03-21-2008, 12:05 PM
KoP:

If you want some help of this sort, and are unable to dingalink, an approximate time reference would make things easier.

Kausophile
03-21-2008, 12:36 PM
Sorry. According to WMP, it's from about 20:55 to 23:08 (when Prof. Loury says, "All right, John, I see where you're going with this.")

Glaurunge
03-21-2008, 12:44 PM
Suppose it were to be discovered that a white candidate, an outspoken proponent of racial justice, had for twenty years attended a church led by the white equivalent of Rev. Wright. Wouldn’t that be a bfd?


Please explain what the "white equivalent" of Wright is. When this question is posed, the implied equivalent is almost always something along the lines of the KKK. So really the point of this questing isn't to collect information or make a rhetorical point: the point is to tarnish him by planting subtle suggestions that he's the black David Duke.

Kausophile
03-21-2008, 12:50 PM
That's pretty unfair to Anyuser, Glaurunge. Anyuser left it to the reader to insert a hypothetical "equivalent of Rev. Wright." You say this must mean David Duke -- and then accuse Anyuser of invoking David Duke. A fair response to Anyuser would assume a reasonable equivalence, and start from there.

graz
03-21-2008, 01:18 PM
[QUOTE=mvantony;] "I thought Obama's speech was an extraordinary and historic event. And I think it's worth remembering that the extent to which his (complex) message has made its way into people's minds can't be measured very well by the range of explicit reactions being heard a few days after the speech. There’s little doubt that Obama has touched a nerve with many people who, at deeper unconscious levels, recognize much that is true and painful in his words (which isn't to deny there may also be reasons for legitimate complaint), but for various reasons can't consciously acknowledge it. Our conscious minds are great at ignoring information we don’t like, but our unconscious minds suck at it (thankfully). In contrast, our unconscious minds process complex information – e.g., like that contained in Obama’s speech, and in salient facts about his candidacy more generally – much better than do our conscious minds."

I think Michael makes a critical point that many of us have failed to mention or are willing to concede. Namely, the speech and Obama's candidacy in general will reverberate beyond this election cycle. It has the chance to crystalize and grow well beyond the talking points and squabbles about the meaning of race or racism. He has sown the seeds of hope and change that even the most embittered among us are having difficulty denying convincingly. And he always tempers the high flown appeals to our better angels with the recognition of his own and our imperfections.
That sentiment, rooted in the logic of his stated approach and goals, encapsulates for me why I support him over the other available choices.
All legitimate grievances or pledges of support aside, all our projections of political implications considered, we will still have the opportunity to vote.

And beyond that, McWhorter's disappointment, Loury's realpolitik and mvantony's recognition of the continuing struggle are all in play this election cycle. If that isn't enough to get you inspired to vote - what is?

Well don't get me started on the electoral college.

brucds
03-21-2008, 01:19 PM
A white equivalent to Rev. Wright might be Billy Graham, except that Graham actually had a theology that was LESS inclusive than Jeremiah Wright's and who had an explicitly malign view of people outside of his narrow belief system - for example Jews, as was clear in the openly anti-Semitic utterances caught on White House tapes. But every President since Eisenhower having a "spiritual" relationship with Graham has decidedly NOT been been a "bfd." The "equivalence" is in the area of strong, committed evangelism that can't escape the flaws of the culture from which it springs.

Wright is in no sense anything other than a very talented, determined, outspoken but also loving and inclusive preacher in the prophetic tradition . Anyone who asserts otherwise is living in a bubble - either out of white cultural ignorance or total ignorance of the prophetic tradition that runs deep within the Judeo-Christian texts that are rooted in our common culture and have a particular resonance in the black community.

Evidence from people who actually know WTF they're talking about here:

http://www.beautifulhorizons.net/weblog/2008/03/reverend-wrig-1.html

uncle ebeneezer
03-21-2008, 01:24 PM
Let me first say that this diavlog lived up to every expectation that I had. this was THE BEST discussion of race in America that I have ever heard, and certainly the most thought-provoking discussion of Obama's speech. Glen amazes me in that for a Hillary supporter he still managed to keep that part on the shelf and have a serious and very praising talk in regards to Obama. I wish more Hillary supporters (and Obama supporters) could put the horse-race aside a bit more often and talk about the issues that concern all Dems, and really all Americans. It is a testament to John & Glen that they do this so effortlessly.

OK, a couple bones to pick on the spiel at the beginning. My main beef on the Bill Clinton SC remark is that it was a comparison that was solely made on the basis of race. So as much as Obama has tried to not have his race be an issue and for the most part Clinton has not either, then all of a sudden after a couple losses when Obama's star is rising, Bill Clinton decides to compare Obama's campaign to (of all the Dems that have ever run a presidential campaign) to Jesse Jackson. There are so many other candidates that have far more in common with Obama than Jackson, but he picked Jackson and the subtle implication seems pretty obvious. He wanted to remind everyone that Obama is black. The message I got was "well, yeah he's doing well in these states, but that's because he's black and just wait till he gets to the whiter states or the general". And unfortunately this comes painfully close to "remember, he's black and we all know that America won't vote for a black man in the general." Anyways, it just disappointed me that a fellow Democrat would bring up the race of their opponent. Yes, it is a part of the whole equation (just as Hillary's gender is) but that's the kind of focus that I hate to see a Democrat (and former President) make. If Obama's camp decided to compare Hillary's candidacy to Geraldine Ferraro's, I would feel much the same way. The only things they have in common are being Dem's and being women. It would be an obvious attempt to remind people that his opponent is a woman.

The comment that Ferraro made falls into the same camp. There is certainly some truth to what she said, but it was still slimy nonetheless. If Obama's camp said that Hillary is only where she is because she's a woman I would expect Clinton and many Dem's to get upset. Although there is truth to it, it is a demeaning and dismissive statement that I don't think has any place being said from one Dem to another.

My point is that I think the Obama campaign's response does not nullify his claim to trying to transcend race, as Glen implied. If the other side explicitly or implicitly tries to score points by alluding to Obama's race, I think he has every right to call them on it rather than pretend it never happened.

Sadly, I agree with John that many American's defensive response to Obama's speech, and failure to understand how he could remain a member of the church that he grew up in, does not bode well for discussion of race relations in America. I've tried to have discussions with many fellow white people before and unfortunately the knee-jerk defensiveness proves to be quite an imposing obstacle.

Anyuser
03-21-2008, 01:35 PM
I confess to "white cultural ignorance [and] total ignorance of the prophetic tradition that runs deep within the Judeo-Christian texts that are rooted in our common culture and have a particular resonance in the black community."

Question for those who know "wtf they are talking about:" would the manner of Wright and the ambience of his church be exotic to the so-called evangelical voters? This is not a rhetorical question; all churches are weird to me, but I wonder if UCC looks weird to a white church-goer.

Re potential white equivalents to Rev. Wright, I thought this article was interesting and pointed: http://election2008.usc.edu/2008/03/obama-and-wright.html.

Anyuser
03-21-2008, 01:40 PM
this was THE BEST discussion of race in America that I have ever heard, and certainly the most thought-provoking discussion of Obama's speech.

I agree. These two are brilliant. I'd buy a ticket to listen to them.

brucds
03-21-2008, 01:58 PM
"I wonder if UCC looks weird to a white church-goer."

The UCC is mostly "white church-goers." Trinity is, as noted in the link, a "destination" church for UCC members and friends who have an interest in breaking out of their own cultural bubbles. Go to the link I posted and read about Reverend Wright. Here's a clip from a white member of Trinity UCC:

On one Sunday we went to worship with a group of young Germans, about ten people who had come to Chicago as 'emerging leaders in Germany'. A friend of mine was hosting them and wanted to give them an experience visiting an African American church. We were able to arrange for Pastor Wright to meet with them before worship and after he came into the room he greeted them in German and prayed with us, in German. After sharing some background of the church, the UCC and the African American church tradition, we all went to worship. The service was, as always, uplifting---lively gospel singing by the 300 voice choir, a moving infant dedication service, etc. Then, part way through the service, we noticed that Rev. Wright was again speaking in German, welcoming the German guests (in addition to the usual warm welcoming of all guests). The next thing we knew, the choir was singing God's praise in an anthem in German! (Wunderbar, Sie Nommen Wunderbar!). Tears came to some of the guests' eyes and to mine. Radical hospitality. A reality quite different from the cruel characterization of the church as hateful or separatist. (end clip)

This is one reason why I have so little tolerance for these ignorant attacks on Wright.

brucds
03-21-2008, 02:02 PM
If this church would be "weird" to a white evangelical, it's an indictment of at least some segments - probably large - of white evangelicals who have an utterly distorted understanding of the concept "Christian."

a Duoist
03-21-2008, 02:03 PM
Millions of Americans who never joined in a civil rights march--and wish they had--or who have never had a black couple over for dinner--and wish they had--saw in Senator Obama's campaign an opportunity to finally participate personally in putting the American racial divide into the past. The speech lost those waffling, but basically sincere, American voters who wanted to cast their vote as a personal expression of a better America. The rhetoric of Reverend Wright may be unsurprising to our blogginghead duo, but it was a shocking revelation to millions of people who do not share black victimhood. Senator Obama's speech addressed his black base, but by doing so, it chased away fence-sitting moderate whites.

Thus Spoke Elvis
03-21-2008, 02:03 PM
I see no problem with labelling Rev. Wright, Jerry Falwell, Jimmy Swaggart, and others as buffoons, regardless of their ethnic background. It's sad that even in the most prosperous and advanced country the world has ever seen, the shaman still remains a figure who is taken seriously.

When a figure like Wright or Robertson points to some phrase in a 1600 year old book to prove that modern society is being punished by some ominpotent being, the proper reaction shouldn't be anger, it should be bemusement.

thouartgob
03-21-2008, 02:13 PM
The conversation as far as I can tell is about whether or not white people think there is societal racism and/or does something need to be done about it even if it exists.

I think John is asking can white folks become involved in a conversation that involves identifying with 2 difficult things:

1.) Being the Oppressor: Being the beneficiary of past racism.
2.) Being the Oppressed: Being at the wrong end of other race's power trip.

1 is tricky because even though almost all white people consider themselves not racist and a large subset of that group aren't, can they still see the harm of the past still echoing in the present and are they willing to do anything about it to forestall those echoes propagating into the future.

2 is tough because who wants to feel weak. John mentioned "victim culture" and that is a big problem for americans to accept. Sure there were problems in the past but suck it up and move on ( Obama spoke to the immigrant experience as opposed to the slave one ). Can a white person identify with a cathartic experience listening to the theatrics of a Rev. Wright. Can they see an angry black man and not turn that person into the "OTHER". Should the 8000 other parishioners be tossed aside as well as Obama.

Obama (oppressor and oppressed) and his speech are asking this question and the answer, in John's thinking, may come with the outcome of the nomination. If white people respond to Wright by killing Obama's chances then the nuanced discussion that John, Glenn and Barack want to have will probably not occur. Of course there are other factors other than racism in Obama losing but I think that is what they are talking about.

The question in my way of thinking is do white people really understand that only they can end racism. They are the majority in numbers and more importantly in power. Black people can be racist but that doesn't affect society at large in the same way.

brucds
03-21-2008, 02:13 PM
"it was a shocking revelation to millions of people who do not share black victimhood"

This comment is almost painful in the obvious lack of even basic comprehension of this speech - or of American social reality.

Perhaps this diavlog should have been titled "If it wasn't obvious too many white people are incredibly stupid, it sure is now!"

bjkeefe
03-21-2008, 02:17 PM
Kausophile:

Sorry. According to WMP, it's from about 20:55 to 23:08 (when Prof. Loury says, "All right, John, I see where you're going with this.")

No need to apologize. Could be my bad. I didn't mean to sound critical; I was just offering a suggestion. Anyway, to your original question ...

I don't think I understand John's point about "the conversation about race" that he says "black people" want to have. ... Glenn says he sees where John is "going with this." I don't. Can anyone help? Wouldn't a "conversation" go two ways, and not be only about what one side wants the other side to hear? Or is this John's point -- that this desired "conversation" has been defined in a special way? Thanks for your aid.

I think your guess is about right. At least, that's what I heard. John leads in (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/9590?in=20:46) by saying, in part "... the non-black United States is really tired of the notion that societal racism is still something that the moral white person needs to attend to." He goes on to talk about "the conversation" being "... a euphemism for 'white people need to be taught' ..."

I think he makes a solid point, although I think he's overgeneralizing. While there's no disputing that some black people mean it exactly this way, and too many white people hear it only this way, I think there are also a lot of people of all colors who do, in fact, want the talking and listening to be a two-way street.

For example, me. I don't deny that I have a lot to learn, but I also think I have some things to say and some questions that I'd like answered. I'm going to hold off on those for the moment, since if I were to commit them to text, I'd really want to work on them.

To be fair about it, John does bracket this whole bit with a conditional, paraphrased as: ... if Obama loses and it's because of this, then it seems that ...

So that's what I heard from John. Hope that helps.

Thus Spoke Elvis
03-21-2008, 02:21 PM
"it was a shocking revelation to millions of people who do not share black victimhood"

This comment is almost painful in the obvious lack of even basic comprehension of this speech - or of American social reality.

Perhaps this diavlog should have been titled "If it wasn't obvious too many white people are incredibly stupid, it sure is now!"

Who are you quoting? I didn't write that, but your post appears in the thread bracket as a reply to something I wrote.

bjkeefe
03-21-2008, 02:28 PM
a Duoist:

Millions of Americans who never joined in a civil rights march--and wish they had--or who have never had a black couple over for dinner--and wish they had--saw in Senator Obama's campaign an opportunity to finally participate personally in putting the American racial divide into the past. The speech lost those waffling, but basically sincere, American voters who wanted to cast their vote as a personal expression of a better America.

"Sincere" is an awfully forgiving way to put it. I might say of such people, "Those insular white Americans who up until a few days ago thought black America began with Fat Albert & The Cosby Kids and ended with Michael Jordan giving Kevin Bacon a noogie in an underwear commercial had their warm fuzzy ripped off like a bandaid from a hairy thigh."

In the realpolitik sense, I don't disagree with your assessment. Undoubtedly, there will be those who find reality too hurtful or frightening, and will shy away from Obama as a consequence. I cannot forgive such immaturity.

However, I give the average person a lot more credit than that. I do think that lots of white Americans will take this as a wake up call, and after the shock wears off, will say, "Man, if the problem is that bad, then maybe it really does make sense to elect the guy who speaks the truth about it."

a Duoist
03-21-2008, 03:02 PM
Senator Obama's campaign has tapped into a vast resevoir of well-wishing whites; those who cringe at the suggestion of collective 'white guilt' but who nevertheless very much want to be part of an America where "character counts more than color."

The choice between Inclusion or Exclusion has been an active part of the African American political experience, right up to Dr. King and Minister Farakhan; Reverend Wright's sermons are in the separatist tradition. Many millions of white Americans who go to church on Sunday do not experience anything like the language or psychology expressed in Reverend Wright's pulpit orations. For those millions--many are honestly considering voting for Senator Obama to be president--the shock at Reverend Wright's views from the pulpit will trigger a re-assessment of whether or not to vote for Senator Obama.

Senator Obama has established himself as an Inclusionist, one candidate for all Americans. But his tolerance for the Exclusionist's sermons diminishes the force of his argument. That dichotomy will play out on Election Day.

Wonderment
03-21-2008, 03:32 PM
There''s no way Obama can win with you -- that's clear enough. Fortunately he doesn't have to win you over. I just hope he can get a majority of the voting electorate in November.


Well, that's the big question, of course. How much will this hurt him in November? And if he seriously tanks in polls, Hillary could have a case before November.

This is a polarizing event.

Obama supporters, like those of us who post on Bheads, will be more deeply committed to him because we now see him as under attack by the bigots of Fox News, etc.

Obama opponents will see the specter of Wright behind his every word, have their prejudice against his wife reinforced, and mistrust him henceforth.

Will the election be decided by undereducated "independents" who are so out of touch that they're susceptible to the most subliminal fear inducing ads? Obama the Muslim didn't work. But Obama the covert Black Panther may. Stay tuned.

brucds
03-21-2008, 03:42 PM
That comment was the one above yours - from "duoist."

uncle ebeneezer
03-21-2008, 03:54 PM
Brucds, that's an excellent point.

My Biblical knowledge is admittedly slim, but wasn't one of the key elements that makes the story of Jesus so inspiring, the fact that he was radical in his defiance and criticism of the state of Rome? I thought the "revolutionary" call to put God before country, and stand up and point out the ills of society was one of the big selling-points of Christianity?

I guess the apostles should have denounced him and quit the church after that kind of extremist, un-patriotic rabble ;-)

graz
03-21-2008, 03:54 PM
Well, that's the big question, of course. How much will this hurt him in November? And if he seriously tanks in polls, Hillary could have a case before November.

This is a polarizing event.

Obama supporters, like those of us who post on Bheads, will be more deeply committed to him because we now see him as under attack by the bigots of Fox News, etc.

Obama opponents will see the specter of Wright behind his every word, have their prejudice against his wife reinforced, and mistrust him henceforth.

Will the election be decided by undereducated "independents" who are so out of touch that they're susceptible to the most subliminal fear inducing ads? Obama the Muslim didn't work. But Obama the covert Black Panther may. Stay tuned.

Stay tuned indeed.
It is almost as if they planned to leave us hanging on for more when at the end of the diavlog Glenn was unable to respond to John's question about why he still endorses Clinton?
Taking Wonderment's point about a Clinton resurrection to its extreme, can most Obama supporters make the jump?

And now if you will excuse the paranoid fantasy... Did the interference that John and Glenn were experiencing on their phone line raise any red flags? Party lines do not exist anymore do they? What kind of technology do the bhtv'ers use to connect?
Ok - here is the fantasy part - The lines were infiltrated by the same operatives who breeched Obama's passport files.
Just kidding, but does anyone think that either of these things was weird or possibly nefarious?

brucds
03-21-2008, 03:59 PM
"You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? 34 Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, 35 so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of innocent Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, [6] whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. 36 Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.
Lament over Jerusalem."

37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! 38 See, your house is left to you desolate..."


Unless and until Barack Obama denounces and rejects his ties with this angry raving lunatic who believs his own country is damned to hell, he is not fit to be President.

Gravy
03-21-2008, 04:13 PM
Senator Obama gave this speech in the midst of a hotly contested election campaign and its purpose was plainly to influence the outcome of the election. This is entirely natural, but it seems to have mostly escaped the notice of McWhorter and Loury. McWhorter in particular bemoans that the speech probably was well received by a million brie-eating, New York Times-reading white folks, but lots of other white folks did not like or accept the messages in the speech. Well, who was Sen. Obama trying to influence? Maybe much of the Democratic party superdelegates fall squarely within the brie-eating, New York Times-reading, white folks segment. In which case, maybe the speech was a home run for his near-term political objective. If, rather, he was trying to influence the sentiments of the rest of the hypothesized white folk community, then maybe he simply gave the wrong speech!

As for his grandmother, even if she gave her consent to be used this way, Sen. Obama showed pretty poor political instincts to use her so. Pastor Wright is a public-figure who can make whatever case he wants for himself more than adequately. Sen. Obama's grandmother, on the other hand, is not a public figure - in fact we have no independent way of knowing what Sen. Obama said about her is even factual. Here is what I think I know: Sen. Obama's black family gave him basically no support while his white family did. So when it is time to abuse a family member's reputation in this campaign...let's use white grandma. Good job, Sen. Obama!

Kausophile
03-21-2008, 04:18 PM
That does help, bjkeefe, thanks.....But! ... What still throws me off, after listening to him again, is that Prof. McWhorter seems genuinely disappointed that the one-sided "conversation" may not take place. I suppose, as Prof. Loury says early on, this is not what I'd expect John McWhorter to say. So I'm still not sure I'm hearing him right, and I remain intrigued. Maybe half a conversation is better than none. I wish bhtv had a head-scratching icon.

Others?

[Btw -- any playwrights out there? Darn good dramatic idea: Gradually raise the tension between two (or three? five?) Americans of different races or ethnicities thrown together by circumstance, until boom! in Act 3, they have a brutally honest "conversation about race" of the kind bjkeefe and I think we'd want to have, or hear, and for some reason they actually listen and respond directly to each other without name-calling. (I don't know why that would happen.) How would it end?]

brucds
03-21-2008, 04:20 PM
What bullshit - your concern for Obama's grandmother rings totally false and hypocritical. Is this the best you can dredge up from your obviously quite shallow soul in response to Obama's speech ? Obama had used this same example in his book many years ago. I'm sure Grandma can handle it. Folks like you - and Kreepy Kaus - are running empty. It's sad really.

Anyuser
03-21-2008, 05:10 PM
What bullshit - Is this the best you can dredge up from your obviously quite shallow soul in response to Obama's speech ?

That doesn't sound like something Jesus would say! You and bjkeefe should team up and go into business as political consultants.

Namazu
03-21-2008, 05:14 PM
I've made this comment before: John and Glenn set the gold standard for bhtv diavlogs.

Although he looks younger, Obama is exactly the same age as a few guys I knew growing up who were from inner city and poor rural backgrounds but through an "exchange" program went to high school in an earnestly liberal, largely white suburb. As adults, they took on African names, and no doubt listened to and perhaps even said things I'd find painful to hear. Still, the pleasure of seeing them at social functions every few years is untainted by fear that they secretly harbor hatred towards America or European-Americans. Here's the thing: I've known them for 30 years. America has barely known Obama for two. This is why he won't be elected in '08, but he'll have the opportunity to lead on many issues, probably to help the country revisit this important conversation, and perhaps even run again successfully as he becomes better known and more accomplished.

I leave it to more erudite people like John McWhorter to say whether there's anything to this, but guys only a few years younger would have been in college during the big first wave of commercial hip-hop (take Run-DMC's first album as a marker), and conversations involving race would have been quite a bit more open. Obama's unique background might easily explain why he'd be the proverbial quiet kid in the back of the class, but perhaps he also represents the very tail end of the last generation for whom Shelby Steele's "bargain" requires masking such an apparently large gap between the public and semi-public selves.

bjkeefe
03-21-2008, 05:21 PM
Kausophile:

What still throws me off, after listening to him again, is that Prof. McWhorter seems genuinely disappointed that the one-sided "conversation" may not take place.

Huh. That was not the vibe I picked up from him.

Your idea for a play sounds good. Might need to be written by a team, unless the playwright is unusually sensitive and aware of the multiple viewpoints he or she would want to present.

How would it end?

I vote for the entire cast singing Kumbaya, but in some highly ironic, melancholic, mashed-up, or twisted way.

bkjazfan
03-21-2008, 05:26 PM
With all the ethnic groups and races in the U.S. represented in authoritative positions with fine diverse educational backgrounds and areas of expertise it is sad that people have to go to church to hear about politics, law, economics, and other secular topics from a preacher who is not skilled in any of the subjects.

Also, perhaps someone here can answer this question I have. Why are black churches the only ones that are inundated with politicans before an election? Being a lapsed Roman Catholic I never saw anything like this occur when attending services over a period of several years.

bjkeefe
03-21-2008, 05:33 PM
That doesn't sound like something Jesus would say! You and bjkeefe should team up and go into business as political consultants.

I would be honored to be so partnered. What about it, brucds? Sounds like we already have a slogan:

B&B Consulting: We Don't Talk Like Jesus
All messages guaranteed 100% Aramaic-free!

bjkeefe
03-21-2008, 05:36 PM
bkj:

Also, perhaps someone here can answer this question I have. Why are black churches the only ones that are inundated with politicans before an election?

Have you forgotten all the white evangelical churches filled with Republicans?

bjkeefe
03-21-2008, 05:49 PM
Gravy:

Well, who was Sen. Obama trying to influence? Maybe much of the Democratic party superdelegates fall squarely within the brie-eating, New York Times-reading, white folks segment. In which case, maybe the speech was a home run for his near-term political objective.

That's a fairly intelligent thought.

However, my sense of the speech is that Obama did his level best to say what he honestly believed, in the best way that he could appeal to the general populace without compromising on his beliefs. There were some moments of obvious politicking, to be sure, like the reminder about Geraldine Ferraro, but I don't think he aimed his speech at any particular sub-group.

The thing is, a speech aimed at the brie-eating superdelegates would probably not work, for at least two reasons. One, most of the SDs are not, in fact, of that stereotype. Recall that every Senator and Representative is a superdelegate, as are people like state party chairs. That is, a broad sweep of cultural types. (Some of who, I feel certain, prefer Camembert. ;^))

Second, the SDs are going to vote in large part based on two things: what the voters have said in the primaries, and who they think has the better shot at winning the general. A speech which consciously targeted your hypothetical group of elites at the expense of tanking among the millions of fans of Cheez Whiz would therefore be a bad trade-off.

If Obama were that kind of calculating politician. Which I don't think he is.

bjkeefe
03-21-2008, 05:51 PM
graz:

Stay tuned indeed.
It is almost as if they planned to leave us hanging on for more when at the end of the diavlog Glenn was unable to respond to John's question about why he still endorses Clinton?

My very thought, when that moment occurred. This suggests that it was Bob Wright who was jamming the call. And I bet we'll have to sit through commercials before we get to see Part 2.

Glaurunge
03-21-2008, 06:14 PM
The choice between Inclusion or Exclusion has been an active part of the African American political experience, right up to Dr. King and Minister Farakhan; Reverend Wright's sermons are in the separatist tradition. Many millions of white Americans who go to church on Sunday do not experience anything like the language or psychology expressed in Reverend Wright's pulpit orations.


Duoist, can you give any specific examples or evidence that would lead one reasonably to conclude that Wright is in the "separatist" tradition? Moreover, why are you even comparing him Wright to Farrakhan when Farrakhan isn't even a Christian? Seriously, can you provide anything at all to suggest Wright is a black separatist? That's a pretty serious charge, and you shouldn't go making it if you can't back it up.

Incidentally, if you'd like to see the unedited version of the excerpt that's been playing on Fox 24/7 for the past week, you can see it here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOdlnzkeoyQ).

graz
03-21-2008, 06:24 PM
graz:
My very thought, when that moment occurred. This suggests that it was Bob Wright who was jamming the call. And I bet we'll have to sit through commercials before we get to see Part 2.

And I'll bet that Bob will make us sit through another slog with Mickey before the pleasure of Loury/McWhorter. Maybe Bob isn't a nice man after all.

Anyuser
03-21-2008, 06:41 PM
Incidentally, if you'd like to see the unedited version of the excerpt that's been playing on Fox 24/7 for the past week, you can see it here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOdlnzkeoyQ).

This unedited version is very interesting and revealing. I hope Obama and his supporters get more of this out.

bkjazfan
03-21-2008, 06:42 PM
Brendan,

Could you give some examples of what republican or democratic politicians visit what white evangelical churches right before an election. I'll make it easy give me one example, just one.

uncle ebeneezer
03-21-2008, 06:46 PM
My first thought was that Glen was just trying to avoid answering the question. Then I thought maybe John's arguments had been so strong that Glen was feeling doubt and considering switching to Obama. Then I remembered the technical difficulties they had been having throughout.

Your theory of "Bob interrupting" is more interesting.

When it's all said and done, this speech HAS prompted a discussion (at least with people of the BH mentality who LIKE discussion) so that's a pretty good thing.

Happy Friday!!

Anyuser
03-21-2008, 06:49 PM
If you're an Obama supporter, check out this page: http://www.youtube.com/user/TRINITYCHGO. People need to see this.

brucds
03-21-2008, 06:58 PM
Yeah, I'm not up to the "Jesus" standard. I'll let him speak for himself. Meanwhile, I refuse to suffer fools lightly, i.e the hypocrites feigning hysteria over this - or who willfully and malevolently refuse to engage Obama's speech with even minimal standards of honesty and intellect.

bjkeefe - I'm an arrogant asshole but I'm not sure I'm up to the "political consultant" standard...yet.

bjkeefe
03-21-2008, 07:05 PM
brucds:

bjkeefe - I'm an arrogant asshole but I'm not sure I'm up to the "political consultant" standard...yet.

Don't forget: every campaign needs a few attack dogs. You could be the one that goes on Fox and forces Bill O'Reilly to cut your mike.

uncle ebeneezer
03-21-2008, 07:10 PM
An interesting and entertaining post from Charles Pierce via Eric Alterman's blog:

For those of us of the Papist persuasion, Good Friday services always came as two hours of existential dread. Purple swatches all over the sanctuary. Gloomy hymns. Latin intoned with an extra-special kind of lugubrious Lugosiness. More to the point of the past week, the Good Friday liturgy was a carnival of anti-Semitism, an extended exercise in Jew-bashing so egregious that even the Vatican came to notice it several centuries on. Now, I know I sat through this. I know Russert, and Matthews, and Maureen Dowd, and Pat Buchanan -- and JFK and John Kerry, as well -- also did. This wasn't the improvised rhetoric of one pastor in one church. This was the formalized celebration of Christ's Passion, performed in exactly the same way in front of millions of people in thousands of churches all over the world. So here's the thing, Mo and Tim and Chris. (I leave out Buchanan because, hell, he probably thinks the liturgy was too diverse.) Did sitting through this make you anti-Semitic? And to what degree? And have you ever rejected and renounced 2,000 years of popes -- to say nothing of the church over which they presided -- because they authorized this dangerous thooleramawnery? if you haven't, you should probably lay off Barack Obama and his minister, is all's I'm saying.

bjkeefe
03-21-2008, 07:18 PM
Brendan,

Could you give some examples of what republican or democratic politicians visit what white evangelical churches right before an election. I'll make it easy give me one example, just one.

http://www.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUSN2326769820071223?feedType=RSS&feedName=topNews&rpc=22&sp=true

bjkeefe
03-21-2008, 07:21 PM
Nasty LIEbruls through MSM and Pope under the bus!!!11!

January
03-21-2008, 08:56 PM
Please bring these two thoughtful gentleman on as many times as they are willing to talk.

Like John, I've been wholly saddened by the response to Obama's speech. Some whites seem to be shocked to find out that not all has been forgiven in the black community. I can live with Obama's candidacy failing because he may not be as skillful as the other guy. But if it fails because whites can't get past their own self-admiration at having gotten past racism, I won't blame black voters for staying home in disgust, come this November.

bkjazfan
03-21-2008, 09:02 PM
Brendan,

Thanks for the information. It does happen: Huckabee at Hagee's church. What a pair.

bjkeefe
03-22-2008, 03:39 AM
bkjazfan:

To be fair about it, there is a little something to your point about politicians visiting predominantly black churches more frequently than predominantly white churches. There are at least two reasons I can think of:

1. The church is more likely to be a focal point and community gathering place for black people. There are any number of reasons for this; one pedestrian one might be that black groups historically have not exactly had so many other big buildings at their disposal. I think this would be (have been) especially true where blacks are a minority in a locality. And until recently, economic reasons added to this: why rent out a hall when you can use the church for free?

2. The mechanics of politicians reaching out to predominantly white churches, Catholic ones in many neighborhoods historically, and especially evangelical ones recently, often works in a way different from politicians visiting churches directly. To oversimplify a bit, it works like this: religious leaders gain access to the candidate for private and small group meetings. These leaders then return to their churches and spread the message of the candidate, report on promises extracted, etc.

I think there's also a tendency for the mostly white megachurches to be able to take advantage of expensive technology -- the candidate appears on giant screens in the churches via satellite links, for example.

It's inarguable that white evangelical leaders have significant political clout in their own right, too. This is not to say that no black preachers have any, but the disparity is pretty huge. Many televangelists own their own TV stations or cable channels and run huge production companies. Many prominent white evangelicals get as much air time as any politician on the MSM. Think Billy Graham, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, James Dobson, Tony Perkins, etc. Their agenda on issues is one they set; politicians looking for their support must embrace that agenda.

You could respond, I suppose, with Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, both of whom like to have "Rev." prepended to their names. I don't think these are exactly parallel. For many blacks in America up until at least the 1960s, the church was one of the few paths for advancement, especially if your skills lay primarily in dealing with people. You see a similar social structure in historical Europe, one that lasted a millennium: about the only way to get ahead was to join the church. So I think of Jackson and Sharpton, and probably ML King, as primarily politicians who joined the church to further their political goals, while I see the prominent white evangelicals primarily as religious people who make political alliances to further their religious goals. Lots of oversimplification there, to be sure, but I think it's an accurate first cut.

There's no doubt that politicians, especially Republicans, have to walk a bit of a tightrope here. They do want to court white evangelicals, which have been a big part of their base lately, but they also are aware that too much obvious pandering can be used against them.

On the flip side, there is not nearly as much of a negative perception about black churchgoers. (Or, has not been until the last couple of weeks.) There's a lot of irrationality at work here, no doubt, and it may even be reasonable to say that a double standard exists, although I don't like the implication of that phrase as usually employed.

The bottom line, it seems to me, is that politicians can visit black churches specifically, while the white churchgoers are often wooed in other, one-step-removed, sorts of ways.

jaoneal
03-22-2008, 11:41 AM
I think John's suggestion that the best way forward for getting white's more interested in the problems of concentrated black poverty is by drawing analogies with it to white poverty is probably NOT the way one should go.

There is a term for the types of white people they are talking about that they don't mention--i.e. "poor white trash". There is a reason that the term "trash" is used; middle class whites do not generally see these people as part of a social problem to be addressed, but rather as something to be kicked to the curb and "taken out".

Even amongst southern right-wingers, most DO see predominantly black urban ghettos as a kind social ill. They may not agree with liberals on what should be done about it, but they do see it as a kind of singular problem.

This simply is not the case for "trailer trash". If anything, middle class whites view such people with even more fear and resentment than they do lower class blacks. It's not the same "fear of a black planet", hide your wallet, type of fear--rather it is the fear of facing the possibility that this could be your meth addicted son or daughter one day. While John might think that sympathy is the natural reaction here, I can tell you--it isn't. Quite the opposite. Hatred that such a possibility even exists gets focused on its embodiment.

bkjazfan
03-22-2008, 11:53 AM
Brendan,

I think you analyzed the situation very well.

A similiar analogy could be made with Hispanics and the catholic church. This is a place that they have always congregated. Perhaps, less so now with their numbers rising in evangelical denominations and others moving up the economic ladder. However, and I may be wrong here but the catholic church does not like to cater to politicans glad handing in front of their congregations during mass. At least that has been my experience while having attended mostly white and Hispanic masses.

I am beginning to notice a small number of blacks who do not care for their churches being turned into conduits for politicans. There reasons are primarily the ones I previously gave: (1) churches are a places of worship not politics (2) there are many blacks now with high levels of expertise in political science, international relations, economics, and and a host of other disciplines who should be sought out for information instead of the local minister who is trained primarily in theology.

Thanks for your reply.

John

bkjazfan
03-22-2008, 12:21 PM
As a lapsed catholic it didn't make me anti-semitic but I did find it to be dull and boring. Oh, I think Pat Buchanan is happy since the Latin Mass has been approved by the new pope. The traditional catholics as they like to be called attend these services.

bjkeefe
03-22-2008, 01:31 PM
John:

Good point about the Catholic Hispanics and their churches as focal points of congregation.

I think you're right about Catholic Churches generally being uncomfortable with handing over the pulpit for direct politicking, but there is a long history of the church hierarchy being political players, and of political aims filtering downward to the priests, who then pitched them to the congregation. Mostly, political concerns of a more local nature were of concern, as I understand it from books about Irish neighborhoods and my older relatives, but there was also a lot of anti-Vietnam War sentiment promulgated through Catholic churches in some places during the '60s and early '70s. Politics seemed to have gotten pushed out of churches in the '70s through the '90s, but recall that it came back with a vengeance, as the Church swung to a more conservative tone, and abortion attitudes were preached as a (the) way to make decisions about candidates.

I am beginning to notice a small number of blacks who do not care for their churches being turned into conduits for politicans.

That's a good sign. I don't know about this myself, but I think your partial explanation about improved opportunities makes sense.

Good discussion. And thanks for sharing your real name.

bkjazfan
03-22-2008, 06:45 PM
Brendan,

We have an example here of noted African Americans in their fields of expertise who are not ministers: Glenn Loury and John McWhorter.

John

Tim_G
03-22-2008, 09:58 PM
I think that Obama has kept the people that were for him before pastorgate. He probably didn't win over Archie Bunker, but Archie Bunker wasn't for him in the first place. There was a brief dip in the polls, but they seem to have recovered (http://www.gallup.com/poll/105529/Gallup-Daily-Obama-Edges-Ahead-Clinton.aspx).

laurelnyc
03-22-2008, 10:12 PM
I'm only a few minutes into this discussion and John MCWhorter has already annoyed me with his dismissal of voters who happen to not buy Obama's speech. McWhorter's labels these critics as "uneducated," which has become a daily attack thrown at Obama critics. I'm particularly annoyed at the arrogance of many Obama supporters who like to deride Clinton supporters for being "uneducated." There are many educated Clinton supporters, such as Glenn Loury. In addition, there are many intelligent reasons for supporting Clinton. I am not so arrogant to suggest that Obama or McCain supporters are "stupid" for supporting their candidate. Everyone has different priorities in life and choose candidates based on those preferences.

The reason that I didn't buy Obama's speech (and yes, I'm an educated "typical white person") was due to its timing. Instead of answering questions about his relationship with Wright, Obama chose to change the topic to "race" in general -- he gives a long speech (written by a speechwriter), which was meant to prod white guilt. In essence, he excuses Wright's offensive rants by implying that we shouldn't take his words too seriously because blacks have suffered so much (hint, hint - blacks have a "right" to be racist). It was a speech intended to guilt-trip his white critics so that Obama could get out of the mess he was in.

I don't believe one bit in Obama's authenticity. If he wanted to give the nation a lecture on race that would've been truly effective, he should've done so at a time when he wasn't trying to save his skin.

laurelnyc
03-22-2008, 10:19 PM
Hmmm, nice slam at swing voters, John. So those swing voters who aren't as in love with Obama now due to this controversy aren't accustomed to the "grey zone?" They're not "trained to think" in highly moral relativistic terms?

Maybe John needs to be less of a snob and realize that he isn't the only one with a brain. Just because someone doesn't buy Obama's selfish "skin-saving" speech does not mean that he/she thinks in terms of good/bad. Yes, these critics are capable of thinking in terms of grey.

Wonderment
03-22-2008, 11:08 PM
As Glenn points out to John several times in the course of the dialogue, it's a mistake to frame this as white v. black.

The US is increasingly a multicultural mix (not a melting pot), and Obama is emblematic of the future.

Obama's speech and campaign have to address not just a shrinking "white" population (whatever that means), but other minorities as well -- Jews, Arabs, Latinos, Amer Indians, Indian Indians, Chinese, Japanese, Korean-Americans and everyone in between, intermarried, or otherwise affiliated.

The cohort of undereducated "whites" is relatively small, but judging from the media you'd think we lived in a country that was 85% "white" working class and 15% black. That's nonsense.

Chrisstewart
03-23-2008, 01:59 AM
Loury is offbase with attributing racial loyalty to putting Obama in a strong position. How many blacks are there in Iowa?

Isn't it typical for a Democratic candidate to rely on the loyalty of black voters? Where would Bill Clinton have been without the black vote? What about Carter?

laurelnyc
03-23-2008, 03:39 AM
--- uncle ebeneezer wrote on 03/21/2008 at 03:54 PM
Re: Additional note...
Brucds, that's an excellent point.

My Biblical knowledge is admittedly slim, but wasn't one of the key elements that makes the story of Jesus so inspiring, the fact that he was radical in his defiance and criticism of the state of Rome? I thought the "revolutionary" call to put God before country, and stand up and point out the ills of society was one of the big selling-points of Christianity?

I guess the apostles should have denounced him and quit the church after that kind of extremist, un-patriotic rabble ;-) ---

Uncle Ebeneezer,

Actually Jesus wasn't much of a political radical, but was more of a religious radical. The main target of his wrath was the Pharisees & Saducees, the religious officials. He didn't really go after Rome that much and even said to "give Ceasar what is Ceasar's." He was mostly hated by the religious establishment, not Rome. In fact, most of the prophetic tradition in the OT never was revolutionary in political terms...it was always berating the Jews for their sin, blah blah. Jesus was so provocative because it was blasphemous of him to claim that he was the "Messiah + Son of God." He was a nuisance and threat to the religious establishment. That's why the Bible is perfect to keep people enslaved to the political establishment - precisely because it was NOT politically revolutionary. It gives countless stories of "god" punishing the people for the tiniest act of disobedience to "god."

laurelnyc
03-23-2008, 03:56 AM
Stay tuned indeed.
It is almost as if they planned to leave us hanging on for more when at the end of the diavlog Glenn was unable to respond to John's question about why he still endorses Clinton?
Taking Wonderment's point about a Clinton resurrection to its extreme, can most Obama supporters make the jump?

And now if you will excuse the paranoid fantasy... Did the interference that John and Glenn were experiencing on their phone line raise any red flags? Party lines do not exist anymore do they? What kind of technology do the bhtv'ers use to connect?
Ok - here is the fantasy part - The lines were infiltrated by the same operatives who breeched Obama's passport files.
Just kidding, but does anyone think that either of these things was weird or possibly nefarious?

Uhm, yes, you're PARANOID!!!! Btw, Obama's files weren't the only ones which were breeched. All three candidates' were breeched so - NO CONSPIRACY!

One other thing that not many talk about is that many Clinton supporters will not be able to make the jump to support Obama either so both Dems are screwed (both Obama & Clinton camps did their parts in slandering each other and the fans/supporters were happy to go along with the lies). Btw, I am a Clinton supporter who initially liked Obama, but for many reasons (long before Wright issue), I decided that there is no way that I'll ever vote for Obama. And from the talk of Obama fans, I hear similar things about Clinton, which is why I've resigned to the fact that POTUS #44 = McCain.

I will say that one thing that turned me off Obama is the hatefulness of some of his fans (not here on BHtv). I'm continually amused that the candidate of "hope & unity" has some of the most divisive fans I've ever known in my short political life (essentially 2 elections). The last time I faced this type of hatefulness was when I was a Kerry fan talking with a Bush fan. Maybe all political elections brings this side out of people. I guess I'll know one day. I'm sooooooo sick of this whole race that by now I'm almost relieved that neither Obama nor Clinton will be POTUS because if either wins, this Dem in-fighting will last for another 4 years, especially with the whole FL/MI controversy.

graz
03-23-2008, 12:10 PM
Laurelnyc:

Yes that is why I followed paranoid with fantasy. I was just hoping to start a thread about privacy and remark on the coincidence of the interruption of the diavlog. And tie it in with the Clinton vs. Obama compatability issue.

Thanks for playing along, I have to go take my meds now.

bjkeefe
03-23-2008, 01:23 PM
laurelnyc:

One other thing that not many talk about is that many Clinton supporters will not be able to make the jump to support Obama either so both Dems are screwed ...

I don't agree. Sure, there will be some supporters of both candidates who will retain their sour grape attitude through November, but overwhelmingly most will eventually cool off, at least to the extent of being able to hold their noses to vote against the worse choice.

I will say that one thing that turned me off Obama is the hatefulness of some of his fans (not here on BHtv). I'm continually amused that the candidate of "hope & unity" has some of the most divisive fans I've ever known ...

Don't miss the forest for the trees, is all I can say to this. Passions run high in any election, and those with the loudest and most extreme voices tend to get the most attention in any slice of life. I would also say it's just as much of a canard to think that the occasional expression of negativity, particularly by someone not even involved with the campaign, somehow completely refutes the genuineness of Obama's message. And finally, it's not as though we haven't heard the occasional bit of hysteria from Clinton supporters, nor is it as though the Clinton campaign itself hasn't indulged in its own share of attack politics.

I'm sooooooo sick of this whole race that by now I'm almost relieved that neither Obama nor Clinton will be POTUS because if either wins, this Dem in-fighting will last for another 4 years, especially with the whole FL/MI controversy.

You think losing the election is going to make the Dems all join hands? As someone with a bit more experience watching the circular firing squad in action, I can only say that there is a singular lack of evidence to support this idea. And it is always useful to keep in mind what Will Rogers said (http://www.people.ubr.com/celebrities/by-first-name/w/will-rogers/will-rogers-quotes/i-belong-to-no.aspx).

bkjazfan
03-23-2008, 01:43 PM
I think the Wright fiasco has about played itself out. It's time to move on. If anything it showed us that Senator Obama is not a some messianic figure but one like the rest of us with inconsistencies and flaws not withstanding his well delivered speech on the matter.

People should get back to what this campaign is about: who should lead this country a democrat or republican. The big issues are not religion but war, the economy, healthcare, education, and a host of others.

John McWhorter does harp on this educated elite business in a lot of his talking points. Not being one of them I find it a little irritating but having read one of his books and several of his articles I have respect his points of view and how he methodically supports them.

Glenn is a delight to watch and listen to. I think I read one of his books when he was a conservative and appreciate his intellect as well.

John

bkjazfan
03-23-2008, 01:59 PM
Laurelnyc,

In one of the previous diavlogs between Glenn and John both admitted that talking about race is getting to be "old hat." Glenn in particular noted his college students aren't as receptive to this type of discussion as they were in prior days.

I am glad they brought up the point of Hispanics so that it is no longer a dialog about whites and blacks. Having lived in Los Angeles almost my entire life where Hispanics are at least 40% of the population I know first hand how this is the case.

At 60 years of age I am tired of talking about race. Personally, my interests tend to lean more in the economic, education, and political science fields. Oh, and I love to read fiction whether it's hard boiled mysteries or classics.

Anyhow, thanks for posting.

bjkeefe
03-23-2008, 01:59 PM
laurelnyc:

McWhorter's labels these critics as "uneducated," which has become a daily attack thrown at Obama critics. I'm particularly annoyed at the arrogance of many Obama supporters who like to deride Clinton supporters for being "uneducated."

I'll be the first to agree that it's a mistake to categorize every member of any large group in such a fashion. I do, however, think there is some statistical basis to John's claim. There is a preference for Clinton among whites with less education, considered as a group, and a preference for Obama among whites with more, again, considered as a group. While it's fair to say that education does not alway equal intelligence, there's definitely a strong correlation.

I also think there is considerable merit to the idea, not unique to John, that many of those who have been turned off by Obama's speech and/or association with J. Wright, are reacting in a way that suggests narrow-mindedness. I think it's fair to equate narrow-mindedness with lack of intelligence.

The reason that I didn't buy Obama's speech (and yes, I'm an educated "typical white person") was due to its timing. Instead of answering questions about his relationship with Wright, Obama chose to change the topic to "race" in general -- he gives a long speech (written by a speechwriter), which was meant to prod white guilt. In essence, he excuses Wright's offensive rants by implying that we shouldn't take his words too seriously because blacks have suffered so much (hint, hint - blacks have a "right" to be racist).

You're entitled to your reaction. I don't share it at all, you'll be unsurprised to hear. I don't think he was trying to excuse Wright in particular, or blacks in general, for every last thing that's been said in our long and painful history of racial relations. I think, instead, he was trying to show where some of these attitudes come from. He also, it seems to me, spoke quite eloquently about the validity of whites' reactions to such attitudes.

For the record, it has been reported by reliable sources, Marc Ambinder (http://marcambinder.theatlantic.com/archives/2008/03/speechwriter_of_one.php) to name but one, that Obama wrote the speech himself. Unless you have some evidence to the contrary, it is unfair of you to bandy about the accusation that he did not. In fact, it makes you sound like the mindless twits who populate the studios of Fox News. You don't like Obama, fine. But avoid outright misstatements of fact if you want to appear credible, especially when you yourself have expressed concerns about the Democratic Party being torn apart by specious claims.

I don't believe one bit in Obama's authenticity. If he wanted to give the nation a lecture on race that would've been truly effective, he should've done so at a time when he wasn't trying to save his skin.

Again, you're entitled to your own gut instincts. I would only say that it is my strong impression that Obama has been trying to run as a candidate on the issues and the merits, with a wish to leaving race out of it, and has only brought the matter up in response to race-based attacks.

bjkeefe
03-23-2008, 02:23 PM
laurelnyc:

I want to add an afterthought, after listening to the first part of Conn and Bill.

Listening to Conn rehashing the right wing talking points; e.g., the "throwing grandma under the bus" trope and the selective quoting of the "typical white" phrase, it is awfully hard not to say that such statements, not to mention clinging to them and repeating them endlessly, are making Conn sound like a moron.

If you accept that, then you might stop to consider how Clinton supporters sound when they say the same things.

Tim_G
03-24-2008, 02:24 AM
I agree with all that. I think this story will play itself out fairly soon.

But one final observation:

A poll by Rasmussen (http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/election_20082/2008_presidential_election/obama_speech_grades_51_good_or_excellent_26_fair_2 1_poor) says a majority of people liked Obama's speech.

Eighty-four percent (84%) of America’s Likely Voters say they have seen or heard at least some portion of Barack Obama’s Tuesday morning speech on race and national unity (see Speech). The speech has become one of the most watched YouTube videos and 82% say they are following news about it somewhat or very closely.

Among those who have seen or heard some of the speech, 51% said it was good or excellent, 26% said fair, and 21% gave the Senator’s remarks a grade of poor.

Not surprisingly, opinions divided sharply along partisan and racial lines. Among Democrats, 67% said the speech was good or excellent. Fifty-three percent (53%) of unaffiliated voters agreed along with 31% of Republicans. Eighty-six percent (86%) of African-American voters said the speech was good or excellent along with 45% of White voters.

Prior to release of this poll, Rasmussen Reports looked at the Impact of Pastor Wright and THE SPEECH on Election 2008.

Fifty-six percent (56%) of Likely voters remain somewhat or very concerned about Obama’s relationship with Pastor Jeremiah Wright. That figure includes 72% of Republicans, 54% of unaffiliated voters, and 45% of Democrats. Just 36% of African-Americans are concerned along with 61% of Whites. Voters under 50 are less concerned than their elders.

Thirty percent (30%) said the speech was racially unifying and 21% said it was racially divisive. A plurality, 37%, said it was neither.

Over the past month, Obama’s favorable ratings have fallen nationally in the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll.
Critics may say what they will, but numbers show that his speech did what it needed to do. If a democrat can make a speech that 54% of independents and even 31% of republicans think is a good speech, that's pretty darn good.

mpg77
03-25-2008, 11:46 AM
I know I'm late to this scene, but I must say that the flap over Reverend Wright is rather hilarious to me. Much like the prophet for whom he was named, Jeremiah Wright suggested that America has run afoul of God's commandments. Go back and read any of the biblical prophets and see if they strike you as "angry."

This set of restrictions -- where African-Americans have to suffer injustice, wait forever on full equality (we're getting there, be patient! it's better than it used to be! and it's better here than anywhere else in the world!), and then be sure not to react in an a manner that offends whites' feelings is rather ridiculous. So, in other words, whites get not only to dominate society but then oversee how blacks respond to that dominance. Does this sound even vaguely like a democracy to you?

The website "things white people like" makes a funny joke about recycling. It gives white people the sense of doing something good and important, without having to make too much sacrifice. Simply to vote for Obama is nowhere near the hard work of integrating schools and neighborhoods -- work that you all might recall was resisted even more in the North than in the South (remember the rock-throwing at King in Chicago and at black schoolchildren in Boston). Somehow whites want to continue reaping the benefits of a society in which they have accumulated advantages but never have that mentioned and have a bunch of smiling black people thank them for crumbs. I could imagine doing that, but only if it were just acknowledged (as it was in the Dred Scot decision) the Negro has no rights which the white man is *bound* to respect. So, whatever you get, be grateful. It's revocable.

I have spent my entire life (and I'm only 30) watching white-dominated institutions struggle with the difference between feeling good about themselves and doing good. Doing good often requires sacrifice and feels bad. The real reason for "diversity" is that these white institutions need nonwhite people around to tell them *not* to change, to tell them don't worry it's really not that bad -- in fact, even when you purposely excluded us as inferior, you were actually already fair, egalitarian, and ready to integrate. So you could open your doors without ever making any substantive changes because your college, your business, this country were always based on equality, even when grand exceptions were made for the propertyless, white women, enslaved people, and Chinese immigrants.

Why exactly does the US get credit for being a democracy when it hasn't been one yet? Doesn't an entity have to demonstrate its beliefs, not just assert them? I might say I'm a millionaire, but if the money isn't in the bank, none of you would believe me. And as a concerned and educated black citizen of this country, I will absolutely call this stuff out as long as I see it. It's the people who raised hell and the whistle blowers that have gotten us as far as we are, not the people who use patriotism as an excuse for complacency and cowardice.

mpg77
03-25-2008, 12:04 PM
I'd also like briefly to add that the supposed "shock" of fence-sitting, sincere, white moderates (to use the phrases you used) is not excusable. I am quite well-versed in a variety of white opinions on racial matters. I've had to be in order to navigate middle-class society. Such whites, if they are truly "sincere" should educate themselves, should spend some time in spaces that aren't majority-white. But they'd rather rely on the occasional drops of color that get into their space and ask us forty million questions about what black people think, as if we are all controlled by one overmind. I don't even agree with myself all the time, how could I answer for 39 million black Americans? Dealing with race is no more complicated than dealing with any other issues. There's no quick fix in the areas of addressing history, trying to do and be good to one another, and attempting to advance the standard of living for those excluded from prosperity. There's no quick or easy way to justice, happiness, love, or knowledge. But it's actually a very worthwhile and meaningful work -- and one that everyone regardless of their specific talent should dedicate themselves too, if I may say!

oluoni
03-25-2008, 04:04 PM
Great diavlog as I expected. One very salient point made (amongst many): the dialog on race - should it happen - has changed irrevocably and certainly cannot be framed in the context or language of the '60s, and has to be reframed in a manner that reflects:

a) changes in the non-white demographic (not just due to the significant & growing numbers of Hispanic Americans, but broadly also due to the growing relevance of the contemporary non-white immigrant experience, to include Asian and even the black African or Caribbean immigrant experience)

b) the impact of 40+ years of (sometimes ill thought) drawdowns on the white majority's goodwill and willingness to acknowledge and underwrite a fix to the ills of racism.

I agree with John's point that the notion of a dialog on race - that still largely takes the form of a list of societal grievances and their historic causes from the "black" community to the white majority aimed at establishing the moral justification for reparation or some other governmental intervention - just will not fly in that form.

I agree that much of such a dialog will have to make its way as part of a broader, more inclusive dialog on poverty, education and crime and how to substantially and sustainably tackle these issues: society's obligations to tackle poverty and the need to examine the impact of generational poverty and explore research based social policy to mitigate it; how to improve the quality of education and access to it in the more blighted sections of the country; how our society views crime and the rehabilitation and re-assimilation of the criminal who has paid his debt. No doubt race will show up in a good faith discussion of these issues, since race shaped - in part - the societal mandate that created some of the policies currently in place around them, and race also features in some of the (ineffectual demand side) tinkering done to date to address some of the consequences of these issues, by way of affirmative action. As Glenn notes, the solutions don't have to be about race even if the causes are/were.

This dialog cannot be commandeered by the black American community, as it has to be - and perceived to be - inclusive of all sections of society (even if representation is weighted in favour of non-white sections that are disproportionately impacted). It also has be led based on the weight of moral authority about what this society is about and stands for, and definitely not on any moral counterpoint to racism. On this point, I think Obama still retains the moral authority to be able to lead a dialog thus reframed, not because he is black or even because he is perceived as a non-threatening black man but more because of his constitutional law scholarship and the reverence of the constitution that seems to bleed through his writing (see Audacity of Hope) and that I think he can very eloquently bring to life to a majority of Americans. As I think the moral authority for this dialog lies in the founding principles and articles of this country.

I am not suggesting that the above dialog puts to bed the issue of race in America and its historical antecedent, but separated from the need to fix parts of our society that remain millstone necklaces, I think it distills it into the need for a loud, collective affirmation of a very significant wrong done to descendants of Black American slaves. Not as a prelude to reparation of any form, but as a very visible and loud (globally heard) affirmation of a grotesque wrong done to its own. The need for this I see not just for black America but for America as a whole - to blunt one significant charge of hypocrisy often attached to its perch on the moral high ground, a perch critical to America's leadership role as the world's sole superpower. I'm not sure I know what form that affirmation should take, and neither do I have the scholarship of history to bring to bear on this, but I am sure some precedent exists ... and I don't think it is Black History month, or MLK day or a Wall Street sponsored MLK monument in Washington.

Do I think the above solves the race problem, and will lead to the disappearance of racial stereotypes and legal discrimination, racial opportunism and similar buffoonery? Of course not, but I think it is the most that can pragmatically be achieved and hopefully it can be successfully sold to most sections of America as the only collective solution there is, and everyone can then consider THE dialog on race had, and leave any further discussions to individuals who see the need and choose to have one.

mpg77
03-25-2008, 04:32 PM
I hear you oluoni, but I think it should also be noted that there have never been only two racial designations in this country. So the point of expanding the conversation beyond black and white should have less to do with the notion that we've counted every demographic than with the importance of diminishing the obstacles that different groups face around segregation, language acquisition, targeting by police, destruction of their land or culture, occupation of their homeland, or whatever else. For example, many wealthy Asian immigrants (though not all) have basically thrown their lot in with whites. When we had racial "dialogue" at my high school, they had nothing to add that wasn't already been said by conservative whites. Working-class immigrants may have something else to say. But I think participation in this "dialogue" should have to do not with your identity category but with the actual social obstacles to full participation.

The problem with the inclusive notion of "class" is that I just refuse to keep suffering those things for which there is no parallel with white people. The object then becomes this appeal for sympathy -- what if you were in my position? -- that relies upon a notion of sameness that won't always hold. Straight guys will probably never have sex with a man, but because they won't feel what gays feel, does that mean that discrimination based on sexuality should continue? There is no equivalent for whites to Operation Pipeline, the nationwide policing program that spawned pretextual traffic stops for the crime of "driving while black." So does that mean blacks have to keep suffering that because we can't say "all Americans" or "all poor people" face this problem? I'm not putting my concerns on the shelf so someone else can occupy the center and those of me and mine are always secondary -- dreams deferred.

And finally in regards to the "drawdown" in white generosity, I have to wonder when the generosity was higher. I think people forget how hard it was to get Civil Rts legislation passed in 1965 -- legislation that was really not new, but a reiteration of the 13-15th amendments. How can you grant Voting Rights to a people already granted them? Why would one have to?
The opposition to black equality has been constant, strong, and violent. Have people forgotten the resistance to residential integration in the NORTH? Chicagoans pelting King with rocks; Bostonians throwing rocks and insults at schoolchildren. We know that school and residential segregation remains high. I think the resistance is actually constant -- it's not in the street with cursing and spitting, because it doesn't have to be. Banks and police officers police those boundaries, politicians redraw the voting districts and residential zones. And things stay as they were -- with a few token blacks around whose only job is to say that inequality isn't inequality, unfair is ok, police brutality was deserved, etc. Without them, majority white institutions and neighborhoods wouldn't know the difference between yesterday's de ure segregation and today's de facto segregation.

I don't say any of these out of ingratitude to those who have sacrificed to make my life better. I don't blame them; I don't think civil rights or The Cosby Show or the Black Panthers were a failure. But I think we're up againts a very stubborn foe and it doesn't help to capitulate to the evasions and denials that really add up to: We whites aren't even really sure of our own income and standing anymore, so we're going to hold onto this white thing even tighter in the hopes it'll comfort us by knowing native blacks and poorer immigrants have it worse.

mpg77
03-25-2008, 04:41 PM
You are one of the few people who has drawn the connection between Wright and Falwell. While I don't agree with your judgment of Wright, I admire that you paint all of them with the same brush -- they all use the Bible to condemn what they think are America's misdeeds. So, if Wright "hates America" so do Falwell and Roberston. So why is Wright accused of hating America? Funny -- those who have said this (not you) seem to suggest America belongs to whites: If Wright hates whites, then he hates America.... Strange.

I think this is really about the style of black preaching (and much speech outside of Church too). Oh, it's so angry. Boo hoo. I think that's why Wright has been associated with "hate." Some white people can't hear his words because they are so afraid they might (deserve to) get their asses kicked. I don't even think the Klan "hates" blacks, Jews, and Catholics. The Klan believes the US is a white Christian nation -- so they oppose homosexuality (as against God and also halting the production of white babies), support deportation, reject multicultural education and interracial marriage, etc. They also resent the competition for jobs and resources. All of this (and more) goes into their philosophy. Hate is a useless term because it doesn't help us get to the thought process that animates groups or individuals.

mpg77
03-25-2008, 04:52 PM
This is not true of everyone, but my clearest and most pointed remarks come when I get a little "fired up." In my opinion, the deal is that whites want to keep benefitting from something we never dismantled -- a racially imbalanced social structure -- but also be told that actually it's not *that* disadvantageous. That's the only way that Rice, Powell, and (I fear) Obama can be understood as American instead of "black." It actually doesn't matter how eloquent, educated, Christian, or talented one is: When a black person looks at the evidence s/he is supposed to conclude "whatever I'm seeing can't be racist." I say from experience that to say otherwise suddenly wipes out all those credentials that got me in the door in the first place-- the college degree, the poise, the austere sexuality, frugal spending, the guarded tongue and rigidly perfect English. I've been cast out of more than one organization and called stupid because I mentioned that their real goal was to integrate black people into the instutition the way it always had been while they were saying blacks were too stupid, lazy, and immoral to join.

The accusation of being "angry" has nothing to do with word choice or tone; it has to do with white fear that the overdue reckoning might be here. I don't blame them, the majority of whites have never been in a position secure enough to risk their own money and status. I would hope that would make them angry enough at corporate elites to join with angry black people.

Here's to the audacity of that hope!

mpg77
03-25-2008, 04:56 PM
I wonder, do you think the event was polarizing -- or do you think it revealed a division that was already there? I personally don't think many people interpreted this event through new lenses. Note how many Obama opponents brought up Farrakhan, Sharpton, Jackson, and hating America. It's not reasoning, it's parroting.

I'm sure Obama supporters are doing the same. I just can't see that as clearly as it doesn't seem to be as catchphrasy.

harkin
03-25-2008, 08:10 PM
Earth to Glenn, Barack not only didn't 'break off' from his Pastor, he sat there and refrained from even challenging him. Is that the kind of leadership you want in a Presidential candidate?

If Barack Obama truly WAS NOT equating his grandmother with Rev Wright, why did he use them in the same context in his speech (disownership)? He clearly was using his own grandmother to soften the harshness of Wright's invective, which was both ridiculous and shameless.

The most hilarious part of Glenn's misdirection here is that people who have a problem with Obama's speech are expressing 'fury'. No Glenn, not fury, just calling out a candidate who has put himself forward as the leader of unity but who never once thought to call out his own Pastor for spreading racist hate.

Congratulations Barack for maintaining your 'intimacy' with someone who was spouting conspiratorial racist rants yet never once (or at least until your candidacy was threatened) having the nerve to express an opinion on them.

Lastly, I hope no one here thinks I'm disagreeing with Glenn just because I am a 'typical white' man.

graz
03-25-2008, 08:30 PM
[QUOTE=harkin;

Lastly, I hope no one here thinks I'm disagreeing with Glenn just because I am a 'typical white' man.[/QUOTE]

No, the reason why I think you are disagreeing with Glenn is that you have not acquainted yourself with a fair assessment of the facts in question. As many times as you claim that Wright is guilty of charges that most would not concede, or attribute motives to Obama that have not been entered into evidence, you simply do not have a case... just a rant

bjkeefe
03-26-2008, 02:35 AM
harkin:

Lastly, I hope no one here thinks I'm disagreeing with Glenn just because I am a 'typical white' man.

I hope not, too. I would hate to think the typical white person is as misguided and clueless about race as you are. And don't try to deny it. The fact that you're still obsessing about one line in a speech, a week later, gives you away.

The truth is, people like you are delighted to have this Wright issue to gnaw on. Gives you cover for all those racist things you've been wanting to say for so long.