Every week on Monday morning, the Council and our invited guests weigh in at the Watcher’s Forum with short takes on a major issue of the day. This week’s question: What Effect Do You Think Barack Obama’s Presidency Has Had On Race Relations? Why?
The Razor: Race relations are far worse today than they were 5 years ago. In fact I would go so far as to say they are worse than they’ve been since the 1970’s but I lack the proof to back up the statement beyond my gut telling me. Obama has squandered an opportunity brought about by his skin color to heal the wound of racism on the American body politic, and instead has chosen to use race to further divide Americans for his own political gain in the pursuit of goals held by a small elite cadre of white liberals.
I’m not surprised. Although a product of an African and an American, Barack Obama has never been an African-American. Instead of being raised in the African-American experience from birth, he grew up in an unusual, sheltered environment abroad and living with his white grandmother in Hawaii. Instead of growing up in a black culture shared by many white Americans, he grew up in the white subculture of ultra-leftist academics, an elite which believes it understands blacks better than the blacks themselves. This culture sees African-Americans as a group that is completely devoid of responsibility for its condition and as a result incapable of governing itself, needing the intelligent white elite to do so. This elite also sees white people who do not belong to this subculture as evil, racists responsible for the legacy of slavery and for all the attendant problems of race in America. For example the administration has been silent on Black on black violence, except to use it to attack whites and their culture of “god and guns.”
This elitists viewpoint held by Obama and the white elite backing him is blind to the common experiences of whites and blacks today. African-Americans and Caucasians live together at levels unprecedented in our history. They share common goals such as decent schools for their kids and well-paying jobs for themselves. Their cultures intermix with white teenagers listening to black rap and cheering on black sports players, while African-Americans listen to country music stars and enjoy comic book hero movies with characters rooted in the white culture of the 1940s and 1950s. These commonalities are completely invisible to Obama and his backers; all they see is what they want to see: any black-white conflict that fits their pre-existing beliefs. When that conflict turns out to be a poor fit, like the Trayvon Martin murder case, they are forced to make up such racist idiocies as “white Hispanic” to squeeze the event into their belief system.
The irony is that the views held by Obama and his white elite backers are now more racist than the society they are trying to impose them on. Americans don’t want to be hyphenated and divided anymore: they want to be united in hope, and working together to build a better future. But the white elite rules, and America continues down the path towards ruin creating a mess that will take decades to clean up. What a wasted opportunity.
The Colossus of Rhodey: Recent polls have demonstrated that the public’s views on race have deteriorated since Boss Obama has taken office. This should come as no surprise. Obama’s — and his wife Michelle’s — background includes myriad flirtations with radical concepts of the mixture of race, politics and the law. Make no mistake — Obama’s off-the-cuff comments regarding Henry Louis Gates Jr. and then Trayvon Martin weren’t “mistakes” or “gaffes” at all. They were based on how Obama truly feels about race relations in the country. Even a cursory examination of his academic background (what one can actually find, that is) easily explains this. The problem with the most recent, Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman matter, is that the president and many of his acolytes (like Eric Holder) think the country is still sitting in the year 1960 or so. Such a belief is preposterous, of course, and we saw what this belief did to the whole Zimmerman trial. This does mean to say I and many others do not have any sympathy for what the president said regarding the perceptions of many African-Americans about such instances, and their dealing with law enforcement in general. But, again, for the most part, this is 1960 thinking.
In addition, calls by the president, the Attorney General, and others for an “honest discussion” about race in America are, in reality, farcical. Racial radicals do NOT want such conversations. “Honest” conversations on race to them mean “Sit there, white people, and listen to my grievances. And, accept them without question.” If you want to see what occurs when a REAL “honest discussion” takes place, just look at the “progressives’” reaction to Bill O’Reilly’s “Talking Points” from this past week. We saw/heard everything from “he’s blaming the victim” to the usual “RACIST!”
What racial radicals run up against with the majority — especially the majority of my generation — is that this majority was brought up with Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision: Content of one’s character, and not skin color. Racial radicals have perverted this notion into “race should be taken into account” for any number of reasons. Right here, as you can see, such will result in a prodigious ideological scuffle. And I continue to believe firmly that King had it right, and that it is the only vision for America that will allow us to prosper culturally, racially, and ultimately politically.
The Glittering Eye: I think the state of racial relations in the U.S. has deteriorated over the last five years but, possibly, not for the same reasons as other Council members might.
I think that conditions have deteriorated for a number of reasons. President Obama’s election raised hopes very high. These hopes, unfortunately, have not been fulfilled. The president has not paid any particularly great attention to conditions in the African American neighborhoods of major U.S. cities other than as a part of more general policies. And economic conditions in those neighborhoods have fared worse by and large than in other parts of the country as part of the general slowdown of the economy.
I don’t think that the president has deliberately fomented racial tensions although that might have been the net effect. I think that what he has been doing is trying to explicate how many African Americans perceive events. To the extent that race is front and center in that point of view it’s because that’s how many African Americans, particularly those in the educated elite, tend to view things.
Whether that’s an accurate perception is a different question entirely.
JoshuaPundit: Ecclesiastes wrote in that portion of the Jewish scriptures known as the Megillot that there’s nothing new under the sun. I see race relations as yet another example. It appears worse than before because of two things – first, a logical result of certain trends and second, something we haven’t seen in America on a national level ever before, the ascendancy of a political leader deliberately willing to help create and emphasize incidents that exacerbate the racial divide for political gain, something I examined in some detail recently.
In his famous speech, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. challenged America to do one thing – to judge people on the content of their character rather then the color of their skin. Ironically, only a few years before his death policies were enacted by President Johnson to make sure that never happened.
The War on Poverty programs were expressly aimed at black Americans after a series of race riots that occurred that the Kerner Commission essentially excused by saying they were caused by ‘poverty’ and ‘discrimination’ The fact that various other groups of all races had suffered harsh discrimination and poverty when they came to America and managed to better the lives of themselves and their children in spite of it without either violent riots or massive government programs was deliberately ignored as a matter of political strategy.
As a result of those programs, the black family was destroyed as illegitimacy skyrocketed and test scores of black children in the public schools plummeted while programs originally designed as a social safety net were bloated out of all shape to create a culture of government dependency. It not only included welfare benefits that actually encouraged black women to marry the government rather than the fathers of their children, it encouraged the bigotry of low expectations with quotas for government jobs, contracts and college scholarships that were often doled out on the basis of skin color rather than merit.
As someone whose ancestors were slaves and whose people commemorate the harsh conditions of that slavery and our release from it every year, I recognize certain things in today’s events when it comes to this topic. The Torah relates in Exodus how the Hebrews were at first overjoyed at the divine intercession that gave them their freedom and then took all of the blessings they received as something they had coming to them Just Because. They promptly started complaining about the manna (food), the accommodations, the lack of diversion, the leadership of Moses, the water supply and finally even the source of all the benefits they’d received,which led them to construct a Golden Calf to worship and ultimately proved a false idol that endangered their very existence and came close to destroying them.
This is an excellent example of what I call the ‘slave mentality’, and why G-d in His wisdom made sure to allow the Hebrews 40 years in the desert to grow out of it. Those of you who want to substitute a certain president for that Golden Calf who seemed so promising but ultimately only made things worse in today’s version of these events have get no complaints from me.
While many blacks have likewise managed to shed this mentality, a number have not, with results that are quite evident. This is the essence of grievance politics; being dependent on Massa has simply been replaced with being dependent on Big Government. The crunch has come because even the United States of America is finally running out of other people’s money to subsidize this, and any efforts to change course are attributed to white racism, although the terms ‘Tea Party’, ‘conservatives’ ‘Republicans’ and ‘Corporate Greed’ seem to work quite nicely as acceptable code words.
Wolf Howling: Historically, nothing has more poisoned our society than racism and the “racial divide.” Today, half the equation – white racism – no longer prevails in society. But the “racial divide” is still deep. It is a divide carefully tended by the far left. For some of the blacks who have bought into it, there is money and power. There are, for example, the race baiters like Al Sharpton and Jessee Jackson. There are the tenured professors in ethnic studies programs at every university that teach nothing but racial grievance. Then there are the far left politicians of whatever color, from President Obama on down. They see that racial divide as not merely a route to political power, but a foundational element of it.
Blacks, starting with Goldwater’s incredibly ill advised opposition to the Civil Rights Act, have been convinced that their interests lay with the left. And blacks have ever since proven to be a monolithic voting block like none ever before seen in our nation. Over 90% of every black vote since the mid-60′s has gone for Democrats. If the left ever loses that block of votes, they will be in deep, deep electoral trouble.
So is it any surprise at all that President Obama has tried to poison the well of race relations at every turn? No administration in history has ever played the race card like the Obama administration. Want to prevent voter fraud – you’re racist. Oppose Obama’s spending – you’re a neo-confederate “tea bagger.” Oppose Obamacare – you might as well be standing next to Bull Connor in Selma setting the dogs loose on MLK.
When Obama had a chance to actually address the problems in the black community a few days ago, he told us that Trayvon Martin was Baracky Jr. He told us how bad it was, based on his personal experience, to be a black man in America and be ‘profiled’ because of his skin color. Lest there be any question that he was saying that racism – as opposed to rationality about black violence and criminality – was the cause, Obama expounded further. As to dysfunction in the black community – the violence, single mothers, cyclical poverty, substandard education – Obama told us that those things must be put in “historical context.”
There is no question that, in the short run, Obama has worsened race relations in our nation. But I would submit that, in the end, the efforts of him and his administration is only adding straws to a proverbial camel’s back. At some point, it will break – to the immense benefit of our nation and the black community in particular. It has to because all the imperatives that gave rise to the black Civil Rights movement have flipped.
In the 1960′s, blacks were the subject of white racism. In 2013, racism has been wholly driven from mainstream society. Our society has revolutionized, and done so in only three generations, like no other in recorded history. To the extent racism exists today, it is on the margins. When you see a woman at one of race hustler Al Sharpton’s rallies hold up a sign that says “Racism’s still alive. They Just Be Hiding It,” that tells you all you need to know about the absence of racism in mainstream society.
Two, the moral high ground no longer rests with blacks. The most significant problems besetting black society – criminality, violence, breakdown of the family with three out of every four black children born to single mothers – those are problems internal to black society. They are not caused by white racism. Moreover, to the extent that the government contributes to the problems of the black community, it is ultimately because addressing the problems of black society honestly would break the monolithic voting block on which the left relies, and in the case of education, would mean taking on teachers unions that provide the single greatest source of funding for the Democrats. This is a travesty, as is the fact that Republicans, despite the urging of such luminaries as Thomas Sowell, have not made any concerted effort to point out these truths to the black community and seek their votes.
Lastly, since whites make up the majority of society, the success of the racial grievance industry ultimately rests on the existence of white guilt. But with racism no longer endemic to society, white guilt is fast fading. The race card is becoming ever less effective, and at some point, the constant claim that anything the left doesn’t like is motivated by conservative’s racism is not merely going to be ineffective, it is going to engender outright anger.
We are inexorably moving to the day when blacks stop their monolithic support of the far left. That will mean that they have joined American society and are no longer claiming to be perpetual victims of it. It will be the day the racial divide ends – and President Obama, with his administration’s overuse of the race card, will have, wholly unintentionally, done his part to end it.
Well, there you have it.
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