November 14, 2008
Getting Past Race? Good Luck With That
Back in March I mused that America still has miles to go in our long and troubled journey towards racial reconciliation:
As I've said before, though I don't think the answer to racism is more talk, the only way to get past our ridiculous squeamishness about certain aspects of both the race and religion debates may well be to just bring them out into the open. There is nothing wrong with asking a candidate for public office (especially one who has invited debate on a topic) polite questions; nor is there anything wrong with discussing current events.
Where I do draw the line is at name calling. I understand the impulse that makes people want to use the word 'nigger'. One seeks, by altering our instinctive associations with that word, to lessen the pain it invokes. That is why many blacks object when whites use the term, yet utter it themselves with careless abandon. But the bottom line is that whoever uses the word, it is still an ugly name.
One day, hopefully, that is all it will be: just one of many ugly slurs with no more power to offend or hurt than any other ugly name. But why go there? Is name calling ever really acceptable behavior? Why not just object to the behavior rather than condemning the person?
In the end, the right response to racism has to be to uphold a consistently applied standard of behavior that holds true regardless of skin color. Chris Rock had it right: we don't get to congratulate ourselves for doing the right thing, whether we are white, black, yellow or brown.
We are supposed to do the right thing, every day, regardless of our skin color. That is the standard Barack Obama forgot to uphold, and one we have a right to expect from the next President of the United States.
The following months were marked by deeply troubling and repeated accusations of racism. White Americans were told that if we voted against a first-time candidate who ranked in the bottom 6th percentile of men who have won the nomination of a major political party, there could be no other explanation than our own racism:
Since the Civil War, 49 men have won a major-party presidential nomination. Only three of these nominees were less qualified, by traditional measures of leadership and experience, than Obama.
That puts Barack Obama at or around the 6th percentile of presidential candidates chosen by a major party in the last century and a half, experience-wise...Interestingly:
None of those men was able to win the White House.
These accusations seemed, to this author at least, deeply ironic when one stops to consider that both John McCain and Joseph Biden were more experienced than Barack Obama. Both men ran for president several times, were defeated, and yet came back to enter the contest again and yet American voters were told that if a relative unknown with far less experience than these men were defeated, the "only possible reason" for his defeat was racism?
David Bositis, senior political analyst at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, pointed out that the 18 percent share of whites that voted for Senator John Kerry in 2004 was almost cut in half for Mr. Obama.
“There’s no other explanation than race,” he said.
The mind boggles. Indeed, one begins to wonder whether there exists in the tortured minds of progressives one single phenomenon which doesn't fill them with a crushing sense of angst, coupled with a fierce yearning for a taxpayer funded, big government solution to magically cure all those too, too tragic ills all flesh is heir to?
Because, you know, that War on Poverty is going so well. Forty-odd years after Lyndon Johnson declared war on poverty in America we have a 70% black illegitimacy rate and God only knows many black children still living in poverty? Where's the exit strategy on this one?
Electing Barack Obama president was a glorious Jackie Robinson moment for the United States of America. Obama didn't just win; he became the first Democrat since Jimmy Carter to win a popular-vote majority. He won a larger proportion of white votes than any previous nonincumbent Democratic presidential candidate since Carter. Ta-Nehisi Coates, writing in the Washington Post's Outlook section, was moved to conclude that Obama's victory vindicated Martin Luther King's "belief in white people," a belief Coates once scoffed at as a sign of "weakness and cowardice, a lack of faith in his own."
As a white person, I accept with gratitude Coates' warm feelings. But I fear they may be a tad premature. While it's certainly true that enough white people voted for Obama to put him in the Oval Office, the blunt fact remains that a majority of white people did not. Although Obama beat John McCain in the popular vote by an impressive seven-point margin, McCain beat Obama among white voters by an even more impressive 12-point margin. Obama got 53 percent of the broad electorate to vote for him but only 43 percent of the white electorate. When I say "white electorate," I don't mean the white working class, or white Southerners, or any other subgroup whose capacity for racial tolerance has long been held suspect. I mean all white voters.
If only Noah could impose not just racial, but ideological conformity upon the American electorate. What a wonderful world that would be!
Because as we all know, the truth has a liberal bias. Noah is honest enough to admit the truth here:
More whites voted for Obama than for the very white John Kerry or Al Gore. That doesn't sound like racist behavior. It's Democrats who most whites dislike, not black people.
Unfortunately, shortly thereafter his Hanes UltraSheers go positively bunchy on him:
It's no puzzler why Johnson was the last Democrat to win a majority of the white vote. He signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act into law, observing as he signed the former that "we have lost the South for a generation." (Actually, it's been two generations, and nobody would be surprised to see three.) What Johnson didn't allow himself to think was, "We have lost the white vote for a generation."
It is always so amusing to listen to people wax fulsome on the subject of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. As Ronald Reagan once quipped, the problem is that they know so much that isn't so. Here are the actual voting statistics on the final version. Note that 80% of Republicans voted "for" the Civil Rights Act while only 63% of Democrats supported it:
Democratic Party: 153-91 (63%-37%) Republican Party: 136-35 (80%-20%)
Whereupon, to hear the story as subsequently related by the DNC, the South rose up in righteous wroth and deserted the party which opposed the Civil Rights Act; illogically (those RACISTS!!!!) flocking like lemmings to the party which overwhelmingly voted for it. And of course none of this had anything to do with economic forces or the rejection of Lyndon Johnson's Great Society by a deeply conservative region of the country. Nossir, I'm afraid the only answer is that Rethugs are a bunch of racists. Please do not confuse me with any more facts.
So determined in Herr Noah to find deeply entrenched racism among whites (he openly admits he couldn't care less whether it runs rampant among blacks because apparently they don't matter) that he treats us to Part II of his excellent adventure through the land of confirmation bias, in which we learn the power of choosing an hypothesis susceptible to self-fulfillment. Natch, when one considers the refusal of white voters to blindly vote for white Democrats irrespective of their political or economic philosophy to be prima facie evidence of racism, life becomes a breeze:
Let me repeat what I wrote in the earlier column: I don't consider any given white person's vote against Obama, or against Democrats in general, to be racially motivated. Within any individual state, all sorts of political and sociological factors may influence a white person's vote apart from race. But when the Democrats go nearly a half-century without winning a majority of white votes in any presidential election, it's necessary to ask why, even after we've passed the remarkable milestone of electing our first black president.
Let's help Noah buy a clue. To recycle a mantra from a previous election in which Republicans were defeated, maybe - just maybe - "It's your policies, stupid":
If one totaled black earnings, and consider blacks a separate nation, he would have found that in 2005 black Americans earned $644 billion, making them the world's 16th richest nation. That's just behind Australia but ahead of Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland. Black Americans have been chief executives of some of the world's largest and richest cities such as New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. Gen. Colin Powell, appointed Joint Chief of Staff in October 1989, headed the world's mightiest military and later became U.S. Secretary of State, and was succeeded by Condoleezza Rice, another black. A few black Americans are among the world's richest people and many are some of the world's most famous personalities. These gains, over many difficult hurdles, speak well not only of the intestinal fortitude of a people but of a nation in which these gains were possible. They could not have been achieved anywhere else.
Acknowledgement of these achievements is not to deny that a large segment of the black community faces enormous problems. But as I have argued, most of today's problems have little or nothing to do with racial discrimination. That's not to say that every vestige of racial discrimination has been eliminated but as my colleague Dr. John McWhorter said in "End of Racism?" Forbes (11/5/08), "There are also rust and mosquitoes, and there always will be. Life goes on." The fact that the nation elected a black president hopefully might turn our attention away from the false notion that discrimination explains the problems of a large segment of the black community to the real problems that have absolutely nothing to do with discrimination.
The illegitimacy rate among blacks stands at about 70 percent. Less than 40 percent of black children are raised in two-parent households. Those are major problems but they have nothing to do with racial discrimination. During the early 1900s, illegitimacy was a tiny fraction of today's rate and black families were just as stable as white families. Fraudulent education is another problem, where the average black high school senior can read, write and compute no better than a white seventh-grader. It can hardly be blamed on discrimination. Black schools receive the same funding as white schools and most of the teachers and staffs are black and the schools are often in cities where the mayor and the city council are mostly black. Crime is a major problem. Blacks commit about 50 percent of all homicides and 95 percent of their victims are blacks.
Tragically, many black politicians and a civil rights industry have a vested interest in portraying the poor socioeconomic outcomes for many blacks as problems rooted in racial discrimination. One of the reasons they are able to get away with such deception is because there are so many guilt-ridden white people. Led by guilt, college administrators, employers and others in leadership positions, in the name of diversity, buy into nonsense such as lowering standards, racial preferences and acceptance of behavior standards they wouldn't accept from whites. Maybe the election of a black president will help white people over their guilt feelings so they can stop acting like fools in their relationships with black people.
Maybe whites who reject the Democratic party aren't racist, but just fed up with a party that promotes victimization and personal irresponsibiity, that uses class warfare to divide Americans and encourage them to think the American dream is a zero sum game.
Maybe is not that we don't care about black poverty and illegitimacy, but that we reject big government initiatives we believe have been deeply destructive and harmful to black families; that would be harmful to ANY family, of ANY race simply because human beings respond in predictable ways to incentives and if you reward irresponsibility and blur the consequences for poor personal decision making, in the aggregate more people will be irresponsible and make poor choices.
Maybe, just maybe, we're applying exactly the same standards we apply to our own family members and our own children. That's not prejudice. In point of fact, it's respect.
If we want to get past race, we need to treat people the same regardless of race. Now that's a transformative platform for change.
Why not give it a try?
Posted by Cassandra at November 14, 2008 07:58 AM
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Just recently I visited the shores of Garden State to rekindle long-standing political animosity among my siblings. This is an annual event, and I was truly fortunate that this year's family circus took place immediately after the presidential election, rather than immediately before as was the case with John Francois Kerry's erstwhile attempt to report for duty at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. I barely escape with my life.
This year, however, the beach house was full of the warm afterglow of Obama's slow hand redemption.I was treated kindly, but with the head shaking pity one normally reserves for people with truly ugly children.
"Did you vote?" my youngest sister the New York organically grown uber-liberal asked, gently probing for the possibility that I'd either seen the true light, or at least had the good sense to stay home. I answered that I did indeed vote, and that I voted for someone other than Obama.
"Oh," she said, with a disappointed sigh that signals that big brother is probably hopeless. "May I ask why?" I think at this point she was secretly hoping that I might confess that I voted for Ralph Nader to save the planet.
Instead I said. "Sure. I'm a racist."
For just a few milliseconds she stopped, a brief cloud passing over her beautiful face. Then she says in her most serious tone) "You're no racist. You've never been a racist! That's a horrible thing to say! Why would you say such a thing?!"
I smiled. "Because the Giants and Eagles kick off in less than a minute. Truth. I got you, didn't I? Just for a second?"
"No. No. No. I'd never believe that."
But I did. Just for a second.
Posted by: spd rdr at November 14, 2008 11:02 AM
See? We were right... err... left...err.. oh nevermind... all along.
Posted by: Lamestream Media at November 14, 2008 11:11 AM
Just recently I visited the shores of Garden State to rekindle long-standing political animosity among my siblings.
Just a guess, but your sibs reside north of Toms River and east of Route 18.
NJ built a Vietnam Vets Memorial next door to the Garden State Arts Center a decade a-gone and we heard the "NIMBY!" screams in Trenton.
Posted by: BillT at November 14, 2008 12:40 PM
Very good read there, Cassandra. The "Racist Narrative" needs to be rammed down Democrats' throats with both hands for the next 4 years. Every Obama supporter who spoke with me before the election brought racism into the conversation, usually the racism they projected onto me, being a white Southern male, aged over 60 years. Some resorted to appealing to me about how purifying it would be for America's soul to have a "black president" for no other reason that he's "black". All emotion, no thought. The Obama Kool-Aid was so potent that nothing about the man's past, associates, writings, speeches, or actions could shake their belief. I've experienced the same in delusional mental patients who hold tighter to their delusions when challenged with reality. IMHO, President-elect Barrack Hussein Obama has set racial relations in America back 50 years. Blacks are experiencing irrational exuberance and unreal expectations, soon to be reality checked; the race hustlers are raking in the money. Whites are still racists, at least as long as there is a profit to be made from saying it's so. Billy-the-Bomber Ayers started his book tour on Good Morning America this morning: Race Course Against White Supremacy. Seeing the Fifth Column Media now enrich Obama's Bus-Buddies is sickening, especially this confessed felon who said of his terrorism: "Guilty as hell, free as a bird! America is a great country." I'm having my doubts about his last sentence.
Posted by: twolaneflash at November 14, 2008 12:57 PM
"If we want to get past race, we need to treat people the same regardless of race. Now that's a transformative platform for change."
How will I make money on that kind of platform?
Posted by: Jesse J. at November 14, 2008 01:02 PM
Sorry Bill, but only one of my siblings lives in the Garden State (like next door to Bon Jovi and his kids treat or treat and Springsteen's house - out least until THIS year, when the Bruce decided to turn off the lights). For the rest of us, State Soprano is just a convenient waypoint, kinda of like the Woodrow Wilson Rest Area at Exit 58.
Posted by: spd rdr at November 14, 2008 01:14 PM
Where did he get his stats on white voters? Why would he even think that? I know McCain carried Georgia, so that would tell me that not all McCain voters were white.
Or am I reading too much into this?
Posted by: Cricket at November 14, 2008 01:42 PM
I'm having my doubts about his last sentence.
Problem is he wasn't sentenced a-tall. Which raises the question of why he was never tried, even though the gummint tainted the original evidence by dotting the tees and crossing the ayes.
I mean, when somebody hops around bragging about setting off IEDs, you'd think that qualifiea as a confession...
Posted by: BillT at November 14, 2008 01:58 PM
Anybody that thought Dems and Americans would give up the race baiting and be magnanimous in victory because of obama's election, were probably injecting too many steroids and hallucinogens.
Those who have wrapped their political identity around the exploitation of people by the Democrat party and their Leftist apparatchiks will never give it up, just like the Palestinians. They will never give up: not until they have been decisively defeaten and that does not mean losing elections (like Hamas' election in the West Bank/Gaza).
What does that stand for again, Bill?
Posted by: Ymarsakar at November 14, 2008 02:27 PM
Where did he get his stats on white voters? Why would he even think that? I know McCain carried Georgia, so that would tell me that not all McCain voters were white.
Don't worry, the Dems will take care of those race traitors eventually.
Posted by: Ymarsakar at November 14, 2008 02:29 PM
The shouting now passed
We pause to deliberate
The echo of words
Posted by: spd rdr at November 14, 2008 06:07 PM
NIMBY...I figured it out but don't want to spoil it for Ymar. I should email it to you, I should.
Posted by: Cricket at November 14, 2008 09:24 PM
E-mail it to Ymar or to me?
Don't pedal it over on your SMIDSY if you'll be taking I-95.
Posted by: BillT at November 15, 2008 05:48 AM
To you, of course. I hate acronymn plot spoilers unless I am tired to death and both sides of my brain are melting. Then I start whining for hints, tricks and cheats like a player in an RPG.
Posted by: Cricket at November 15, 2008 09:00 AM
IOW, wotinhelk is an SMIDSY?
Posted by: Cricket at November 15, 2008 09:01 AM
In Britain and Australia, a vehicle driver invariably approaches the cyclist he's just waffled with, "Sorry, mate -- I didn't see you!"
Hence, bicycles (and scooters and motorcycles) in those countries are known as -- SMIDSYs...
Posted by: BillT at November 15, 2008 10:31 AM
> It is always so amusing to listen to people wax fulsome on the subject of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. As Ronald Reagan once quipped, the problem is that they know so much that isn't so. Here are the actual voting statistics on the final version. Note that 80% of Republicans voted "for" the Civil Rights Act while only 63% of Democrats supported it...
Cass, by my lights, I would say that the con job that is the notion that the GOP is the racist party is possibly THE biggest con-job of the 20th century.
In particular, I cite two details:
We pledge that our American citizens of Negro descent shall be given a square deal in the economic and political life of this nation. Discrimination in the civil service, the army, navy, and all other branches of the Government must cease. To enjoy the full benefits of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness universal suffrage must be made effective for the Negro citizen. Mob violence shocks the conscience of the nation and legislation to curb this evil should be enacted.
-- from the 1940 GOP platform
Contrast especially with:
We stand for the segregation of the races and the racial integrity of each race; the constitutional right to choose one's associates; to accept private employment without governmental interference, and to learn one's living in any lawful way. We oppose the elimination of segregation, the repeal of miscegenation statutes, the control of private employment by Federal bureaucrats called for by the misnamed civil rights program. We favor home-rule, local self-government and a minimum interference with individual rights.
We oppose and condemn the action of the Democratic Convention in sponsoring a civil rights program calling for the elimination of segregation, social equality by Federal fiat, regulations of private employment practices, voting, and local law enforcement.
-- from the 1948 Dixiecrat's Platform
Now, I had someone try and argue that "that was the Dixiecrats, not the Democrats!!". Hey, in 1944 they were Democrats. In 1952 they were Democrats again. That racist crap is and has been at the heart of the Democratic party since the end of the Civil War, at the least, when they sidled up to anyone who fought against The Reconstruction and the rights of Freed Slaves.
I suggest anyone and everyone should read about the events at the 1964 DNC, where Mr. Lyndon Baines "I'm an ardent supporter of Civil Rights" Johnson conspired with Hubert "I'm So Big a Hypocrite I astound myself" Humphrey to disenfranchise duly elected southern representatives, just to make his path to the presidency easier.
The fact that these bastards manage to continue to sell this GOP==Racist crap to the blacks in this country is disgusting.
Posted by: Obloodyhell at November 16, 2008 08:54 AM
... to disenfranchise duly elected southern black representatives...
thought the word but didn't get it into the text.
Posted by: Obloodyhell at November 16, 2008 08:56 AM