by Gina Cobb | March 22, 2008 2:39 pm
After all the talk this week about Barack Obama’s major speech on race and Obama referring to his grandmother as a “typical white person,” perhaps it’s time to take a peek inside the Diary of a Typical White Person.
Update: Along similar lines, here’s the latest from Mark Steyn: Post ‘Post-Racial Candidate.’ Here’s an excerpt:
. . . Barack Obama told America: “I can no more disown him [Rev. Wright] than I can disown the black community.”
What is the plain meaning of that sentence? That the paranoid racist ravings of Jeremiah Wright are now part of the established cultural discourse in African-American life and thus must command our respect? Let us take the senator at his word when he says he chanced not to be present on AIDs Conspiracy Sunday, or God Damn America Sunday, or U.S. of KKKA Sunday, or the Post-9/11 America-Had-It-Coming Memorial Service. A conventional pol would have said he was shocked, shocked to discover Afrocentric black liberation theology going on at his church. But Obama did something far more audacious: Instead of distancing himself from his pastor, he attempted to close the gap between Wright and the rest of the country, arguing, in effect, that the guy is not just his crazy uncle but America’s, too.
To do this, he promoted a false equivalence. “I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother,” he continued. “A woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street.” Well, according to the way he tells it in his book, it was one specific black man on her bus, and he wasn’t merely “passing by.” When the British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan dumped some of his closest cabinet colleagues to extricate himself from a political crisis, the Liberal leader Jeremy Thorpe responded: “Greater love hath no man than to lay down his friends for his life.” In Philadelphia, Senator Obama topped that: Greater love hath no man than to lay down his gran’ma for his life. In the days that followed, Obama’s interviewers seemed grateful for the introduction of a less complicated villain: Unlike the Reverend Wright, she doesn’t want God to damn America for being no better than al-Qaeda, but on the other hand she did once express her apprehension about a black man on the bus. It’s surely only a matter of days before Keith Olbermann on MSNBC names her his “Worst Person In The World.” Asked about the sin of racism beating within Gran’ma’s breast, Obama said on TV that “she’s a typical white person.”
Which doesn’t sound like the sort of thing the supposed “post-racial” candidate ought to be saying, but let that pass. How “typically white” is Obama’s grandmother? She is the woman who raised him — that’s to say, she brought up a black grandchild and loved him unconditionally. Burning deep down inside, she may nurse a secret desire to be Simon Legree or Bull Connor, but it doesn’t seem very likely. She does then, in her own flawed way, represent a post-racial America. But what of her equivalent (as Obama’s speech had it)? Is Jeremiah Wright a “typical black person”? One would hope not. A century and a half after the Civil War, two generations after the Civil Rights Act, the Reverend Wright promotes victimization theses more insane than anything promulgated at the height of slavery or the Jim Crow era. You can understand why Obama is so anxious to meet with President Ahmadinejad, a man who denies the last Holocaust even as he plans the next one. Such a summit would be easy listening after the more robust sermons of Jeremiah Wright.
But America is not Ahmadinejad’s Iran. Free societies live in truth, not in the fever swamps of Jeremiah Wright. The pastor is a fraud, a crock, a mountebank — for, if this truly were a country whose government invented a virus to kill black people, why would they leave him walking around to expose the truth? It is Barack Obama’s choice to entrust his daughters to the spiritual care of such a man for their entire lives, but in Philadelphia the senator attempted to universalize his peculiar judgment — to claim that, given America’s history, it would be unreasonable to expect black men of Jeremiah Wright’s generation not to peddle hateful and damaging lunacies. Isn’t that — what’s the word? — racist? So much for the post-racial candidate.
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