April 26, 2008

The Obama Effect

If Obama wins the presidency somehow—and I’d say he has more than a fighting chance—his success will either prove to be very good news or very bad news.  Ideally his very presence and his likely cowering before black interest groups will lead to more realistic white attitudes about blacks, racism, and the present straight-jacketing of public discussions of the same.  One possibility is that Americans would get used to seeing a black public figure criticized, making mistakes, acting venally, acting tribally, and generally playing by a black nationalist set of rules, all the while mouthing familiar platitudes about “a seat at the table.”  Knee-jerk accusations of racism from the Obama camp—including salvos at such decidedly un-racist figures as Bill Clinton—will make the charge of racism in general lose its sting.  In this scenario, whites (and Asians and Hispanics perhaps too) will become more sensitive to the interests of the Don Imuses and Jimmy the Greeks of the world.  We’ll hesitate to throw a James Watson under the bus, not least because what Jimmy and Watson have said is basically true—Imus, not so much.

The record on this score is mixed in black-led American cities—NYC under Dinkins, Chicago under Harold Washington.  Race probably saved the mayors from some criticism, but the honeymoon didn’t last forever in either case.  Also, truth be told, the presence of these black mayors did little to bring about Obama’s promised “racial healing.”  Dinkins ran New York during the Crown Heights riots, and his mismanagement led to him being succeeded by Rudolph Giuliani—a minor miracle by the standards of New York politics.  Harold Washington presided over an era of dramatic increases in crime, much of it black on black and black on white.  If anything, whites become more convinced under black leadership that they have “paid at the office.”  Their tolerance for continued and unrelenting charges of racism and bad faith declines a great deal.  As in so many cases of reform, black grievances often increase.  After all, the elevation of a black leader does not solve black problems, and even a successful black leader must live with the knowledge that nearly half of the community has rejected him.  As they say, “we still have a long way to go.” 

There’s no happy road from where we are culturally, but whites must reject political correctness and confidently resume their traditional role as cultural and moral leaders for the conservative program to have any hope for success.  A political equivalent of the O.J. Trial for four years might be the right catalyst for this sort of “consciousness raising.”

That’s the optimistic scenario, I’m afraid.  More likely, the media’s tar pit of liberal apology will ignore, deflect, and otherwise shill for Obama.  Even political opponents will pull their punches.  Consider how other unpleasant episodes involving racial matters are just lost down the memory hole.  Hurricane Katrina has become a story of federal incompetence, but it was the failures of New Orleans’ black-run city government and the savagery of its mostly black residents that occasioned the horrors of the Superdome.  We’re being told now that even mentioning Rev. God Damn America is out of bounds.  Finally, black-led cities like Detroit, Gary, and Washington D.C., are never analyzed as typical failures of black leadership where corruption and mismanagement abound.  Instead, CNN has one hour specials about enduring racism, as evidenced by the supposed injustice of prosecuting brutal teenagers in Jena. 

The race game of the last 50 years is simple.  Whites have extended various privileges, powers, and perquisites to black leaders out of guilt, a sense of justice, generosity, ignorance, and well-meaning magnanimity .  Blacks, in turn, have upped their demands, continued to guilt-trip whites, expressed no gratitude for white generosity, and failed at the tasks which they have claimed the ability to pursue.  The narrative of white racism and black victimhood continues. Perhaps an Obama presidency can restore some truth and proportionality to this conventional wisdom.  It’s long overdue.

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