January 27, 2009

RE: What blacks are really celebrating

I can?t help but chuckle as I write this response to Paul Gottfried for reasons that have entirely nothing to do with the subject at hand. Gottfried?s book on the conservative movement, co-written with Thomas Fleming, provided much insight for me at a very young age, at a moment when I was trying to figure out what a ?conservative? was, what it wasn?t and what I was. Of all the subjects I might have chosen to discuss with Dr. Gottfried, or might have wondered over the years what men like him, Dr. Fleming and especially the late Sam Francis, might have thought about particular news items or events ? Obama?s black champions wouldn?t have exactly topped the list.

But we reap what we sow and I knew my recent Obama and Black Pride commentary might raise a few eyebrows and I hoped – a number of good points. Thankfully, Mr. Gottfried has provided one great example of the latter.

Writes Gottfried:

What Mr. Hunter should have said is that blacks are rejoicing that their kind of Democratic leftist black is now in the White House. If he were any other kind of black, his fellow-blacks really wouldn?t have voted for him. Nor would the media be slobbering over our great racial transcender.

The hoopla in the black community surrounding Obama has more to do with identity than politics. Using the examples of Michael Steel and Lynn Swann, two black Republicans who received little black support, Dr. Gottfried contends that if racial solidarity were the primary issue, both candidates would have been movin?-on-up politically and enjoying the same excitement amongst their own as Obama.

But black Republicans are rejected by blacks-at-large, and called ?Uncle Tom? and ?Oreo? accordingly, precisely because they are seen as tools of whites, rightly or wrongly. The GOP remains the white man?s party in the mind of black Americans, which it is, and if only the Republican Party would embrace this glaring fact they might be able to pull together a better winning coalition, as Francis used to suggest.

Rightly or wrongly, Obama is not seen as a tool, but his own man ? and more importantly ? their man. I made a reference to pro wrestling and the almost universal adoration amongst blacks for flashy, jet-setting wrestler Ric Flair in my initial commentary, as working for the family construction business for a number of years, an awful lot of my conversations with black coworkers were about wrestling. My white co-workers mostly considered ?rasslin?? ?fake,? ?silly? and something they were above, and even if they did like it, they harbored a certain guilt about their secret pastime. Blacks never acted like they were above it. They didn?t act like they were above anything. They were used to being bottom rung. I could even tell which wrestling programs they watched, which often differed from mine, because most didn?t have cable television. And they liked Ric Flair because he had lots of money and liked to talk about it. They wanted that too.

Status/ wealth = respect.

The stereotypical, black ?pimp? style of dress, loud colors, big fedora hats, feathers, lots of gold ? is all about respect, and for poor people who spend their lives at the street level, their version of respect naturally reflects a street mentality, not unlike the Italian mafia. Outside of delusional NAACP leaders, what average black American?s primary concern are more civil rights? Few. But respect? They crave it. The most popular, popular music in the world ? hip-hop ? is nothing but endless songs about getting respect, often by violent and immoral means. Being ?dissed,? as in ?disrespected? is the worst insult.

The black folks down here in Charleston, South Carolina, who attended the ?Obama Party? at the Kush Lounge (an R&B/hip-hop black club) a few Saturdays back, were not jazzed about Obama?s stimulus package, universal health care and could care less whether Guantanamo Bay was closed or remained open. Most probably think the idea of gay marriage is ridiculous, don?t view abortion favorably and are much less inclined to feminism than their white neighbors. They support affirmative action and welfare for illiberal reasons, and oppose illegal immigration for the same racially nationalistic reasons. ?Left? and ?Right? mean little to these folks. ?Black? and ?white? mean a lot.

And ?respect? means everything. The street-level obsession with getting respect has been taken to a once-unthinkable and unprecedented new level, now that their ?boy? is in the White House. If Obama adopted a Buchananesque, hard Right platform or called for Red Revolution, Obama would remain their boy. It?s perception of identity, not an assessment of Obama?s politics that drives their enthusiasm. It?s this same perception of identity that excludes black Republicans from garnering their support, not their politics per se.

That I?m glad that so many of my fellow black Southerners are so glad is entirely separate from other race-related issues, as Gottfried points out, like black crime, social dysfunction and certain pathologies, whether circumstantial, cultural or cognitive.

Ironically, when the Obama and Black Pride commentary was broadcast on the radio, one man found my dismissal of multiculturalism ?racist? in this new ?age? of Obama. He was white. One black listener, a man named John, who constantly calls in to complain about ?wimpy, white PC Republicans who won?t ?buck up? and do something about all these illegal Hispanics? agreed with both my assessment of multiculturalism and black enthusiasm for Obama. John voted for Ron Paul during the SC Republican primary, and by no means represents the typical black American, as he also voted for Chuck Baldwin in the general election.

John was the rare black man who actually voted for his candidate for president this year, based purely on that candidate?s politics. His fellow blacks most certainly didn?t.

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