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Bloggingheads 03-20-2008 08:39 PM

If Obama Wasn't Black Before, He Sure Is Now
 

Eastwest 03-20-2008 08:57 PM

Re: If Obama Wasn't Black Before, He Sure Is Now
 
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

Re: If Obama Wasn't Black Before, He Sure Is Now
 
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

Re: If Obama Wasn't Black Before, He Sure Is Now
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Eastwest (Post 72065)
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: If Obama Wasn't Black Before, He Sure Is Now
 
RE: GRAZ's

Quote:

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

Re: If Obama Wasn't Black Before, He Sure Is Now
 
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

Happy Good Friday!
 
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

Re: If Obama Wasn't Black Before, He Sure Is Now
 
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

Re: If Obama Wasn't Black Before, He Sure Is Now
 
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

Re: If Obama Wasn't Black Before, He Sure Is Now
 
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

Re: If Obama Wasn't Black Before, He Sure Is Now
 
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

Glenn's final question
 
The hope.

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

Re: If Obama Wasn't Black Before, He Sure Is Now
 
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

Re: If Obama Wasn't Black Before, He Sure Is Now
 
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

Re: If Obama Wasn't Black Before, He Sure Is Now
 
Quote:

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 damn, America!"
 
"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

Re: If Obama Wasn't Black Before, He Sure Is Now
 
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

Clueless
 
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

Re: If Obama Wasn't Black Before, He Sure Is Now
 
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

Re: If Obama Wasn't Black Before, He Sure Is Now
 
Quote:

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

MLK
 
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
 
testing again

Kausophile 03-21-2008 11:04 AM

"The Conversation"
 
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

Re: Clueless
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by hans gruber (Post 72093)
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.
Quote:



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"?

Quote:



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

Re: MLK
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Thus Spoke Elvis (Post 72098)
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

Re: If Obama Wasn't Black Before, He Sure Is Now
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by benjy (Post 72092)
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

Re: MLK
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Abu Noor Al-Irlandee (Post 72105)
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

Transcendence
 
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

Re: "The Conversation"
 
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

Re: "The Conversation"
 
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

Re: Transcendence
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Anyuser (Post 72109)
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

Re: Transcendence
 
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

Re: If Obama Wasn't Black Before, He Sure Is Now
 
[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

White equivalent to Rev. Wright.
 
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/web...nd-wrig-1.html

uncle ebeneezer 03-21-2008 01:24 PM

Re: If Obama Wasn't Black Before, He Sure Is Now
 
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

Re: White equivalent to Rev. Wright.
 
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/...nd-wright.html.

Anyuser 03-21-2008 01:40 PM

Re: If Obama Wasn't Black Before, He Sure Is Now
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by uncle ebeneezer (Post 72119)
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

Re: If Obama Wasn't Black Before, He Sure Is Now
 
"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

Additional note...
 
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

Re: White equivalent to Rev. Wright.
 
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.


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