First posted September 20th 2009. This piece has not aged much.
This is one of those times when being an immigrant confers a mental advantage. I am pretty sure that during the whole period of American slavery, my ancestors were digging potatoes in northern and eastern France. They lived far from the couple of French Atlantic ports that took part in the slave trade. My heart if free of racial guilt and my mind of the suspicion of racial culpability. I have no trouble thinking about race in America.
Liberals are giving a racial explanation to the rising sentiment against President Obama’s spending initiatives, and against his bad faith, and against ACORN’s gangsterism. I don’t think they are being cynical. Liberals believe it, for the most part. Here is why.
Many liberals are unable to recognize a constitutional revolt when they see one because the Constitution does not have for them the fixed value it has for conservatives. They think it’s a point on a map, not a compas
Liberal Democrats attempted to use a modest majority to engineer abrupt and fundamental societal change. They failed. Many have trouble figuring out why because what they wanted is – in their minds- obviously good for everyone (except “the rich”).
It was a childish plot. They react childishly to the fact of their failure.
Being overwhelmed by the spectacle of their man going down in flames, they resort to a false explanation that has two merits, two advantages.
First, there is no sensible and effective comeback to it. If someone says to you: You are doing this because you are racist, what do you answer: No, I am not?
Second, putative racism is right in the middle of the general liberal perception of the world: It’s going to pot and America, especially, is full of unenlightened, mean people.
Incidentally, there are many liberals I can’t like personally because they hate what I love, American society.
They see this country as full of evils although they seldom witness evil personally. They are sure that in some parts of the country where they have never been, somewhere, sometimes, it’s still 1960 from the standpoint of race relations. If they acknowledged progress on that front, their whole world view would be threatened. White America’s racial guilt is the linchpin of their thinking.
The Democrats’ own collective, racial party guilt plays a part in liberals’ obstinacy on race.The foundation Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed by more Republicans than Democrats (in %). The main opposition was from Democrats. Democratic Senator Byrd led a filibuster lasting fourteen hours to block the legislative process on civil rights. The only known former Ku Klux Klan member in the political class of our country is a Democrat, the same Senator Byrd. (This is not a rumor; he apologized publicly.) The apparatus of legal segregation the Civil Rights Act aimed to destroy was entirely a Democrat construction. Labor unions – not a stronghold of Republican loyalty – resisted equal opportunities in employment for decades.
In recent days, the only obviously racist acts were those of union members beating up a black conservative in Missouri and calling him a “nigger.” How do I know they were union members? Their union t-shirts. Their union never denied it, by the way.
It’s common to accuse your adversaries of your own sins. It makes the sins look more common, and therefore smaller.
There is undoubtedly anti-black sentiment in this country, including among conservatives. It’s different from what it was thirty years ago. It’s not an automatic reflex to skin color and African facial features as it used to be. If it were, Oprah would not be the most influential woman in America. If it were, there would not be so many black men serving as barely disguised sex symbols under the pretext of professional sport.
The current anti-black sentiment focuses on social dysfunctions where African-Americans are greatly more numerous than their numbers in society would predict. It’s not all forms of social dysfunctions by the way. Black comics are fond of pointing out that young black people don’t engage in mass assassination and rarely in serial murder, and they are right.
The most obvious disproportionately black social dysfunction is out-of-wedlock births. We know that it’s a source of many other social problems, whether the fatherless kids are black of white.
In 2005, about half the births to unmarried mothers were to black women. African-American are only 15% of the population, perhaps 20%. Black children are thus 2,5 X times more likely than whites to be born to unmarried women.
In 2005 also, the homicide rate for blacks (victims) was six times higher than for whites. Everyone knows who is killing blacks. If it were whites doing the killing, you would know it. Count on it.
(Figures from the Statistical Abstract of the US)
The things that horrify whites about blacks are exactly the same behaviors that horrify the overwhelming majority of African- Americans who are honest and hard working. That’s why they move out of black areas as fast as they can.
Against this background, an elegant, well-spoken, rational-sounding, obviously middle-class seemingly black President must come as a huge relief among all whites, including among conservatives.
Incidentally, I go on the record today to state that Barack Obama is the best-looking President this country has ever had. Michelle looks fine too, much of the time, although she is a little broad in the beam. (OK, that was bitchy. Nobody is perfect!)
Rather than being dismayed by the fact of a black President, many whites think inside their heads: “We got off easy!”
As I have explained before, Barack Obama is a kind of racial impostor, sociologically speaking. He is not an “African-American,” a descendant of slaves brought to this country by force. He is the son of a white mother and of a privileged, fellowship-rich African immigrant. His Muslin name does not suggest a family background of slavery in Africa but of coastal tribes actively engaged in slaving on behalf of the Arabs. I don’t know this to be a true. It’s just a strong possibility and it’s only relevant to underscore the bad faith on the other side.
The President was brought up by his white grandparents in Hawaii, and by his mother in Indonesia. Personal experiences of American racial prejudice must have been far and few. Instead, it’s extremely likely his physical appearance served him well, through affirmative action. Otherwise, why would his college grades still be under lock and key? What fifty-year old man is still ashamed of what he did when he was twenty?
Little-known facts about immigration tell us again that racial antagonisms are not about “race,” as in physical appearance, as they would have to be for Barack Obama to be a target.
In 2000, 600,00 people immigrated into the US from four black African countries alone. The number of foreign-born blacks in the US increased twenty-fold between 1980 and 2005 (Population Reference Bureau). That’s not counting illegal immigrants.
People with some African ancestry keep coming to this country voluntarily, in spite of considerable legal and economic obstacles. They have families and multiply here. Former general and Secretary of State Colin Powell and his parents are no exception but part of a broad phenomenon of people of African descent everywhere being drawn to this country. In this sentence, “descent” stands for visibly sub-Saharan African physical features.
People normally avoid going to where they are persecuted for something about which they can do nothing, such as physical appearance. Got it?
Behind the accusation of racism against conservatives is enormous disarray among the plotters of the early societal coup.
None of this means that American society does not owe a racial debt with respect to slavery and legal segregation. That’s another story though. We certainly don’t owe anyone the abandonment of the very values that made this country an exceptional pole of attraction for people everywhere in the world, irrespective of race.
Conservative racism is in the minds and hearts of childish people who can’t face political defeat or their own poorly-hidden guilt on this matter.
PS 1 Someone called me a “rightist” on Facebook. He is correct, I am a rightist, a fighter for individual rights.
PS2 (9/22/09) Another racist reaction, no doubt: I am sick of hearing the President’s voice in the media, every day, almost every hour. I would be sick of his voice even if he were saying anything interesting. It cured me of any fear of Big Brother I might have. Over-exposure just seems to be self-extinguishing
Filed under Current Events