May 28, 2008

“Dreams of My Father” Becomes Your Daddy’s Worst Nightmare

“Obama needs to do more to communicate the facts about his relatives and his family’s history,”  So says Andrew Sullivan today.

Surely Obama’s polygamous, 17-year-old-screwing, socialist African dad is not someone whose story Obama really wants getting out.  His dad is a son-of-a-bitch who left his mom and showed her no respect after Obama was born.

Obama’s family background has a broader significance.  He is an archetypal symbol of a recent phenomenon that worries otherwise non-racist whites.  Normal white parents worry that their little girls will “hook up” with a charming and virile playa’ who will quickly run out on her if she gets knocked up.  If the young lady is pro-life, an unwanted preagnancy means she bears the double burden of an illegitimate child coupled with the social impact that her child will always evidence that she once crossed the color line.  Most people recognize that this situation results from youthful passion and susceptibility to empty words.  That is, an illegitimate child that is obviously from a now-skeddadled man of another race does say something about the mother’s character.

What Andrew Sullivan and other childless liberals don’t understand is that for many white, suburban parents, particularly their fathers, there is a visceral feeling about their daughter having a mixed race child.  I speculate that this is because an abandoned, mixed-race baby also says something negative about them, namely, that they did not raise their daughter to have good judgment or self respect.  Obama’s mom is a case in point; her realtionship with Obama’s old man did not turn out as planned, and her pattern of irresponsible behavior continued in her second marriage, which soon ended in divorce. 

Obama never expresses gratitude that his grandparents did not recoil from him, nor adopt the more common racial attitudes of other white Americans of the time.  It’s obvious to Obama that they owed him the loving treatment he received. As we know from his various books, they raised him with a great deal of love and patience when his will-o’-the-wisp mom was off in Indonesia for extended periods of time pursuing her studies. Their progressive racial attitudes, far from being praised, instead were criticized in a campaign-saving race speech.  The offense:  his grandmother was scared of black muggers.  Obama’s obtuseness, sense of entitlement, and loyalties should be obvious.

Obama presented other challenges.  His mom faced an uphill battle outside of her immediate family that is obvious to anyone who knows single moms.  Many men would not want to settle down with someone who is a single mom, let alone the single mom of a mixed-race baby.  This is not because men don’t ever want to settle down.  Most men will only reliably settle down if they know the baby they are rasising is their own; this is why most cultures place a much higher premium on female than male chastity.  Stanley Ann Dunham resolved this dilemma by getting married to Obama’s generous and well adjusted Indonesian step-dad.  People know that even this would not be an option for most girls in her position from places like Atlanta, Cleveland, or Chicago. A white girls’ mixed race child is an unmistakable signal to any future white suitors that a life together will be hard because the family and her new man will never be able to blend in with the crowd. 

That is, a mixed-race baby in a later relationship with someone of the same race has an important indirect consequence:  the baby’s very skill color tells everyone that girl has had—and that this new beau is raising—someone else’s baby.  That baby came from a promiscuous and long-gone alpha male; we can’t help but assume that the alpha male is likely still out there having fun, charming someone else’s naive daughter.  A black baby in tow by a white couple testifies that the “man” of the relationship is a beta male expending the resources that should rightfully be spent by the cad.  By contrast, a white baby from another white guy would easily be confused by most onlookers as the new boyfriend’s own.  It could be dealt with discretely.  More men today are willing to stay with a single mom if her kids are not obviously from someone else.  Such men have the moral satisfaction of choosing a burdensome, but authentic, love-interest without the embarassment and public humiliation of manifest beta-ness.  The line between nobility and being a sucker is a fine one.  After all, if St. Joseph wouldn’t do it for Mary without a visit from the Angel, you’re asking a lot of Joe Beta to raise Long-Gone-Alpha’s baby when everyone, not just Joe Beta, would know what’s up.

Obama wants to talk about family and race when it’s convenient.  But, like his wife’s political musings, he doesn’t want any independent and negative associations to be drawn.  I imagine his supporters don’t either.  What I’ve said is admittedly strong, but I’m just doing my part for that national conversation on race we’re all supposed to be having. Right now, it consists too much of cant and self-flagellation, and not often enough of “unmentionable truths” that should be apparent to anyone who has spent some time out in Applebee’s country.

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