Elizabeth Wright, Issues & Views, August 12, 2008
In these times I am rarely surprised by most notions put forth by political pundits. But I must admit to being taken aback by the suppositions of Terry Michael in “Obama as the End of Identity Politics as We’ve Known Them” (Reason magazine, 6/10/08). Michael appears to believe that under an Obama presidency, we soon will be on “the beginnings of a journey away from the Great Society mind-set of the Democratic Party” and on a course that will put “the Jesse Jacksons, the Al Sharptons, and the white identity politics liberals out of business.”
Michael envisions the end of what he calls the peddling of black victimology, which will mean no more demands for “diversity training, minority contracts, or other tribal reparations.” For Michael, the myth that minorities cannot assimilate “dies when a majority white nation selects a leader of color.” How logical he is; how well-reasoned is his thesis. Yet it is clear that he has no clue as to who benefits, among blacks, from that “diversity training” and those “minority contracts.” It is the most powerful and influential who are recipients of victimology largesse.
Anyone who thinks that Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson are going to be put out of business does not comprehend the manner in which these two men, and others like them, are protected by prosperous, influential middle class black elites—the major beneficiaries of most entitlement programs. Sharpton and his fake rowdiness is viewed by this middle class as their ace-in-the-hole. He is the go-to man, in charge of appearing to control the steam, so to speak.
It is the prosperous black bourgeoisie, who grew prosperous by fostering the “victim” mentality among blacks, who are most responsible for the current state of the underclass—for a multitude of reasons. Don’t be fooled by the sporadic concern sometimes shown by members of the upper classes, like Bill Cosby, Juan Williams, and others. Their scolding proclamations to the lower class are due mainly to the embarrassment caused by scurrilous black behavior, which they feel reflects upon them.
Every time Reverend Al does his in-your-face, tough guy routine, sending out signals that the steam pipes could burst at any moment, a capitulation takes place, and well-behaved, non-threatening black elites reap the rewards and bounty. This symbiotic relationship will not come to an end with the entry of a black man into the White House.
As for those “other tribal reparations” that Michael speaks of, I’d like to see Chief Obama dare to be dismissive of the items on that long laundry list of grievances that blacks keep compiling. In order to avoid another public verbal joust, as he recently engaged in with those Florida hecklers, Obama will have to be cautious that none of his words be interpreted as a rejection of the slavery Reparations crusade. This crusade, too, has a high representation of middle class blacks within it, especially in academia, and these folks are not going away.
Those who fantasize that under President Barack Obama there will be less of a push for “diversity” and affirmative action policies favorable to selected groups and a diminished call for whites to mend their evil racist ways, are setting themselves up for future disappointment. Along these lines, writer Jim Pinkerton offers an insightful observation. Putting aside his strange notion that Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, a Democrat, might be scheming to undermine Barack Obama’s presidential bid, Pinkerton is onto something when he claims that Rendell’s recent creation of a “Chief Diversity Officer” to rule over an “Office of Diversity Management” is an “early warning indicator” of things to come.
Governor Rendell, eager to go to the front of the line in an Administration in which blacks will figure prominently, does his self-promoting with a can’t lose “comprehensive” diversity program. He vows that his new office will “use the full force of state government” to “outlaw discrimination.” Or, to put it another way—to burden citizens with yet more race-based mandates. Rendell’s political instincts tell him that the business of race will continue as usual, and he’s learned how to make the right promises. Will President Obama dare promise any less?
[See the results of Gil Spencer’s attempts to get clarification on just what Rendell’s new Office of Diversity Management is expected to achieve that years of Affirmative Action policies have not.]
Matthew Biggs, writing for Reuters, is another optimist who wonders if the fact of an Obama presidency will put an earlier generation of “civil rights leaders” out of business. On the surface, he claims, “this might be expected, as political inclusion has been a key goal of the civil rights movement for half a century.”
Are not blacks already included in the political process? Is Biggs implying that only with the election of a black President comes proof of this inclusion? Does this mean that American Jews have been excluded all these years from the political process, along with Chinese-Americans, and members of sundry other groups, who have never witnessed one of their ethnic compatriots take command of the Oval Office?
It is surprising that after all these years, Mr. Biggs has not discovered that there is no sincerity in the stated goals of the civil rights establishment. Haven’t any of these starry-eyed optimists read Thomas Sowell’s serious works—I mean his books, not the syndicated column? If so, they would have learned that it’s the CRUSADE for political inclusion, it’s the CAMPAIGN for racial justice, and it’s the PURSUIT of social acceptance, not the achievement of these ends, that drive those who profit off the lucrative race industry. In fact, any evidence of blacks being treated fairly must adamantly be denied. The goal, if there is one, is simply to keep whites confused and worried, as they meekly submit to the demands put forth by these cunning povereticians.
And here is a fantasy on the Danhop blog. This dreamer thinks that an Obama presidency “could effectively bring an end to affirmative action” and even possibly bring about the end of the NAACP. After all, he reasons, once blacks have reached the pinnacle, “There isn’t much more to advance beyond the President of the United States.”
His views are probably representative of so many misguided whites, who see the ascendance of Obama as one more appeasement to get blacks to cease their persistent calls for still more “rights.” Have any of the other appeasements over the last four decades lessened the crusades for “justice” or diminished the demands for that “level playing field,” which only God can guarantee?
If you want to see the face of the future, look no further than the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ). Over the last couple of decades, there has been no fiercer interest group that has pushed for hiring and promotion based on race than this organization. Not even the NAACP has dared to push the envelope on some race demands to the degree of NABJ. There is no way that the resolutions that make up NABJ’s platform can be mistaken for anything but demands for outright quotas.
From its inception in the 1970s, the leaders of this group have made no bones about their determination to see lots of black faces in every newsroom and on every newspaper beat. Now allied with UNITY, a coalition of other “journalists of color,” including Asians and Hispanics, NABJ is a serious pressure group within the mainstream media of newspapers and television newscasting.
Even while admitting to the crisis now faced by the newspaper industry, where staff is being fired left and right, and hundreds of print journalists have lost their jobs, the NABJ continues to scorn newspaper executives for “doing little to increase their percentage of minorities.” As if this single quest is all that the besieged overseers of this crippled industry should have on their minds.
In a recent press release, NABJ reminded industry chiefs that they “should not treat diversity like a passing fad.” That line is sure to become a motto to be passed on regularly to President Obama, who spoke at the organization’s UNITY conference in July. The wise Obama assured his audience, for whom racial preferences is the core focus, that he is a supporter of Affirmative Action “when properly structured.” He knows that he’d better get with the program, and these blacks are certain to send him daily reminders about their pet topic, while keeping tabs on his progress in their behalf. (I wonder who gets to decide what constitutes “properly structured.”)
That NABJ press release offered still more warnings to the heads of newspapers: “NABJ will hold you accountable if you do not consider diversity in your hiring and, particularly, firing practices.” In other words, think carefully before you fire a black. Also, NABJ will inform “every new generation of news management that minority hiring, promotion and retention are not disposable concepts.” As things appear now in this industry, it’s uncertain that there will even be a new generation of news management. Do these journalists of color not yet see the handwriting on the wall?
“Diversity,” the NABJ news release chimes, “is a necessity for telling balanced news stories.” We are assured that reporting is bound to be more objective and balanced when seen through “the lens of minority journalists.” Might their fawning behavior towards Obama at that UNITY conference be an example of such balance?
Along with the bourgeois black professionals, President Obama also will have to assure “progressives” and militants, similar to Glen Ford and Larry Pinkney and the likes of those Florida hecklers, that he will not ignore the ongoing push for their (mostly self-inflicted) grievances—that he has not forgotten “The Struggle.” Grassroots blacks have grown used to their community leaders going to bat for them, that is, taking their part in disputes with The Man—explaining away their bizarre conduct. Whether it’s the neighborhood preacher, the local councilman, or the city’s Mayor, display of such loyalty to the group is a given. No less loyalty will be expected from their Brother, the President.
If you think Americans walk on egg shells now in regard to race matters, it could be that the worst is yet to come. We already are getting a taste of how any form of criticism directed at Obama is taken personally by his advocates and supporters. Perhaps Peter Kirsanow’s “You may be a racist, if . . .” should not be taken lightly.
White Americans, over at least three decades, have had it drilled into their souls that “racism” is the world’s worst sin. It’s a far greater sin than those minor sins, you know, like the bombings of Dresden and Hiroshima, and the killings at Waco. The simple fact of harboring negative thoughts in one’s head about a particular group—not acting on those thoughts, mind you, but just thinking them or expressing them to others—constitutes a crime fit for punishment. Western countries are now in a spasm of legislating “racism” as the worst of all crimes. Under an Obama presidency, we can probably count on people like Senator Ted Kennedy to finally succeed in the passage of a federal “hate crime” law, which has failed to pass in the last couple of sessions of Congress. Once passed, the fun and games will really get underway, as we begin to replicate the new Canada, where government investigations into political opinion have now become routine. It’s a back door to finishing off what’s left of the First Amendment.
Americans are learning to adapt, as they master the art of dancing around those egg shells. As a blog commenter puts it, “I have had to learn to speak with more sugar coating now that I’m only one of three white people in my workplace.” Get out those barrels of sugar. Here comes Obama.