Paul Sheehan, Sydney Morning Herald, May 5, 2008
This column is about stupid black men, a sub-group now in the process of undermining the first ever realistic and galvanising tilt for the White House by an African-American.
One month ago the charismatic black prince of American politics, Senator Barack Obama, had a seemingly unassailable momentum in the contest for the Democratic Party presidential nomination this year.
Yet for Democratic presidential primaries in North Carolina and Indiana tomorrow, which ought to have dealt two more victories to Obama and the death blow to Senator Hillary Clinton, his poll numbers have seriously eroded over the past three weeks.
Why? Jeremiah Wright. He was Obama’s pastor for 20 years. He has preached that the US Government invented AIDS as a weapon to use against blacks, among other slanders. Last week, at the National Press Club, he had a chance to recant this absurdity, but chose not to do so in a credibility meltdown that revealed him, before a national television audience, as a deluded narcissist.
America should be entering the fifth phase of the evolution of its black population—slavery, segregation, civil rights, affirmative action and, finally, equality—a time when a charismatic African-American could emerge as the favourite to become the next president.
Given the delicate nature of this discussion, I will rely on the voices of prominent African-Americans who have articulated outrage at the role of Wright and the implications this has for Obama.
One of America’s most prominent intellectuals, Dr Shelby Steele, of Stanford University, wrote in The Wall Street Journal last week: “It is undeniable that something extremely powerful in the body politic, a force quite apart from the man himself, has pulled Obama forward. This force is about race and nothing else.
“Mr Obama’s extraordinary dash to the forefront of American politics is less a measure of the man than of the hunger in white America for racial innocence. His actual policy positions are little more than Democratic Party boilerplate and hardly a tick different from Hillary’s positions. He espouses no galvanising political idea. He is unable to say what he means by ‘change’ or ‘hope’ or ‘the future’. And he has failed to say how he would actually be a ‘unifier’. By the evidence of his slight political record (130 ‘present’ votes in the Illinois state legislature, little achievement in the US Senate) Barack Obama stacks up as something of a mediocrity. None of this matters much.
“Race helps Mr Obama in another way—it lifts his political campaign to the level of allegory, making it the stuff of a far higher drama than budget deficits and education reform. . . . Thus, nothing could be more dangerous to Mr Obama’s political aspirations than the revelation that he, the son of a white woman, sat Sunday after Sunday—for 20 years—in an Afrocentric, black nationalist church in which his own mother, not to mention other whites, could never feel comfortable. . . .
“The fact is that Barack Obama has fellow-travelled with a hate-filled, anti-American black nationalism all his adult life. But now the floodlight of a presidential campaign has trained on this usually hidden corner of contemporary black life: a mindless indulgence in a rhetorical anti-Americanism as a way of bonding and of asserting one’s blackness.”
Another prominent African-American intellectual, Dr Thomas Sowell, wrote on the conservative TownHall.com website last week: “An email from a reader said that, while Hillary Clinton tells lies, Barack Obama is himself a lie. That is becoming painfully apparent with each new revelation of how drastically his carefully crafted image this election year contrasts with what he has actually been saying and doing for many years.
“There is not a speck of evidence that Obama has ever transcended party differences in the United States Senate. Voting records analysed by the National Journal show him to be the farthest left of anyone in the Senate. Nor has he sponsored any significant bipartisan legislation—nor any other significant legislation, for that matter. . . .
“His behaviour has been remarkably consistent over the years. He has sought out and joined with the radical, anti-Western left, whether Jeremiah Wright, William Ayers of the terrorist Weatherman underground, or the anti-Israeli Rashid Khalidi.”
Larry Elder, the radio host and author of Stupid Black Men, wrote in his most recent syndicated column: “[The] Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Senator Barack Obama’s spiritual adviser and former pastor, holds a charter membership in the white-man-done-me-wrong, things-remain-the-same, we-feel-your-pain club.
“Here’s the ‘victicrat’ mindset: kids having difficulty performing well on standardised tests? Blame ‘cultural bias’. A disproportionate number of blacks in prison? A racist criminal justice system that ‘targets’ blacks for prosecution and imprisonment . . . Difficulty qualifying for a loan? Blame banks’ devious plan to prevent blacks from getting ‘access to capital’ . . . High inner-city dropout rate? Bad teachers, unequal funding, racist teachers—yada, blah, etc. . . . ”
Another African-American commentator and author, Juan Williams, made this brutal assessment of Obama’s motives last week: “He chose to join this church to solidify his credentials as authentically black and authentically part of the South Side Chicago community [his core political base] because it is the largest church there and Reverend Wright is well known, not only in Chicago, but nationally. He’s also known for making these outlandish comments.
“Barack Obama chose to be associated with . . . Wright because he saw advantage in it. This speaks to his character, and to his judgment, the [entire] basis on which he has been running his campaign.”
This fusillade of outrage from African-Americans about the politics of race is just a sampling of one side, of one act, of a great drama now playing across America.