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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Liberal Racism: Alive and Well

The guy's obviously smart. Hip. Cool. Gracious and graceful. His moderate tone conveys passion. He appears pragmatic yet comes across as a man of ideals. Being new to the national scene makes him an ideal screen upon which the country can project its pen-up hopes for a leader on horseback to ride in, rescue the distressed damsel, chase off the villains and crooks, restore decency and honor to the shining city on the hill. Yes, Barack Obama's got a lot going on for him at the moment. So much that he admits he's thinking about running for president. Plus, he's black. This gives him precisely what Colin Powell possessed a decade ago: the status of a black person with the stature and credibility to make a serious run for the White House. Which means, of course, that the rest of us must brace for a new round of extravagant posturing from liberals, who predictably end up sounding like racist imbeciles whenever they proceed to tell us how good they are on "race issues." Consider, for instance, columnist Richard Cohen's analysis of the Obama phenomenon:
After eight years of George W. Bush and his narcissistic foreign policy -- me, me, us, us -- it would be great to have a president who presents a different message just by his complexion and who compensates, if anything can, for how Iraq has tarnished America's reputation, particularly in the Third World.
What's amazing is not that Cohen should offer up such a fatuous stereotype (previously he declared the very existence of Israel to be a "mistake") but that civil rights leaders didn't immediately take him to task for declaring that Obama's message and skin color are synonymous. How different, really, is Cohen's thinking from old-time white racist notions of the way that "darkies" and "coloreds" are, based solely on skin pigment? It's hard to distinguish the left's allegedly progressive embrace of racial identity politics from Jim Crow's confidence that skin color is destiny. If Obama decides to run the presidential gauntlet, liberals will expect him to "think like a black man" and fully embrace the culture of victimhood that encourages black dependence on the good intentions of self-annointed civil rights leaders and the self-congratulatory virtue of scribes like Cohen. Should Obama step out of line and dare to emphasize achievement based on individual merit, you can bet he'll be declared "inauthentically black" or a "traitor to his race." Lest you think I'm lost in hyperbole, recall some of the brickbats thrown at Clarence Thomas during his Supreme Court confirmation hearings. For the high crime of thinking conservative thoughts while being black, Judge Leon Higginbotham declared Thomas to be "afflicted with racial self-hatred." For not supporting affirmative action, Thomas had "ethnically ceased being an African-American, said Columbia professor Manning Marable. Clarence's problem is simply he "doesn't think like a black," offered Derrick Bell of Harvard Law School). And then there's ranking Democrat member of Congress who chided black Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele's "slavish" devotion to the Republican Party. Charming. How distant such race-mongering seems from the simple message of the placard held aloft by a black male during the early civil rights movement: "I am a man." The holder of the sign was not making a gender statement. Nor was he fishing for a compliment about his complexion. The man was asking — demanding, actually — precisely not to be judged by the color of his skin. "See me as a human being." Staying put on a bus seat, Rosa Parks had said the same thing. None of this is intended to take anything away from your magnificent moment, Sen. Obama. Congratulations on a successful first ten days as a national icon. You do cut a dashing figure! Now, watch your back. There are people out to get you. This time not the Klan, nor Jim Crow, but still a group that wants you to behave the way a black man is "supposed" to. Liberals who claim to admire you, like Richard Cohen.