One of the creepy things about our "need to have a conversation about race" is the assumption that whites can somehow make blacks feel better, or be happier, or be more self-accepting. Nobody has the power to do that, except what individuals do for themselves, one person at a time.
Most people don't come close to lasting happiness in their own lives. So the popular Leftist charge of America's "institutional racism" comes down to saying that "The Great White Conspiracy is responsible for rescuing you from your bad feelings." That is just cockeyed.
Far too many black people don't feel good about themselves, and are constantly looking for answers from somebody else. That quest for the impossible has been turned into an accusation against the invisible but all-powerful white racist establishment. Michelle and Barack Obama were indoctrinated with those toxic beliefs at Princeton and Harvard, so that they are now making more than a million bucks a year, living in a mansion in Chicago while still feeling sorry for themselves. Give me a break. (Michelle Obama's salary increased by almost 200,000 dollars in one year at the University of Chicago. How many people get that kind of raise?)
No doubt the Obamas tell themselves that they are the lucky exceptions, and that they are just identifying with poor blacks, who surely are out there in the hundreds of thousands. But that's just the self-serving generosity of politicians handing out taxpayer money. The Obamas are rich, highly educated, extremely successful professional politicians. They are the darlings of white liberals. Are they anything more than that?
For politicians, voter dissatisfaction is the fuel of personal careers. You can't get anywhere by promising all the answers to people who don't need you. So the first order of business is to find dissatisfied voters, and if they're not there, stir up some dissatisfaction. That's why Obama needed the Rev -- to get him in good with a proletariat, any proletariat, in this case a black one. If Obama had stayed back in Hawaii or Indonesia, he would suddenly have discovered his inner Hawaiian or his authentic Balinese. Now he is "authentically Black," and the Rev guarantees his blackness. That's why Obama can't renounce the Rev. The Rev is his meal ticket.
Now a preacher in America is very much like a politician. He or she has to get the congregation stirred up, at least enough to pay for his upkeep. The Rev Wright is a fantastically successful politician. The Trinity UCC is a family business, and with DVD sales and televangelism it's making a mint. That's why the Rev has to be so provocative --- to keep his congregation clapping and cheering. Obama learned his rhetorical cadences from the Rev, and probably much else besides. It's been one pro teaching another.
The very notion of "whites" versus "blacks" being like so many M&M's in different candy boxes is a purely political creation. Humans are enormously variable. It makes about as much sense to divide people into sports fans versus music lovers, or fatties vs. skinnies. If politicians could get voting mileage from those divisions, the Left would be telling us all about the oppressive conspiracy against the fat, or the persecuted skinnies all over the world. "Divide and conquer" still works like a charm.
If you think that's exaggerated, just look at the famous classroom experiment in which blue-eyed kids are separated from brown-eyed kids, and one of the two groups is told it's better than the other. It really makes the "bad" group feel terrible about themselves. That's how easy it is to stir divisions among people. Give human beings a flag and a baseball cap with a flashy logo, tell them it's their team, and you can manipulate them for life.
Politicians are expert manipulators, and manipulation works best when people don't think they are being manipulated. That's Obama's biggest talent -- to make the suckered masses feel good while playing on them like an old banjo. So far there's no there there at all -- no substantive ideas that make Mr. Obama any more interesting than the standard-issue ultraliberal Democrat. Oh yes, there's the color of his skin. Big deal.
No, it all goes back to the usual race politics of the post-Civil Rights era, which always needs to pick at that old scab of racism, remind blacks of their old injustices, and convince them that white racism is still keeping them down. It's a disgusting political trick, and many blacks are catching on. If a genuinely self-determining black person ever runs for president without the usual race games, I'll vote for him or her in a minute.
Let a black man say it -- as so many already have, without media support and coverage. Larry Elder's "personal pledge" is one great example. This is the real key to black liberation, just as it has been the key to all the oppressed and persecuted people who rose from poverty and low self-esteem in America.
- 1. There is no excuse for lack of effort.
- 2. Although I may be unhappy with my circumstances, and although racism and sexism and other "isms" exist, I know that things are better now than ever, and the future is even brighter.
- 3. While I may be unhappy with my circumstances, I have the power to change and improve my life. I refuse to be a victim.
- 4. Others may have been blessed with more money, better connections, a better home environment, and even better looks, but I can succeed through hard work, perseverance, and education.
I'll vote for that. James Lewis blogs at dangeroustimes.wordpress.com/