Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Obama's Failure

I'd add that Obama missed a huge opportunity to speak honestly about race in this country. In essence, he told us in his big speech that racism in America caused Reverent Wright's hate and anger, and that black people are entitled to be pissed off for that reason.

His speech was designed to appeal to people appalled by Wright's views and Obama's membership for 20 years in an anti-white church. However, he went about it the wrong way. Instead of appealing to the folks inclined to accept and believe Wright's hateful rhetoric - the black community, he tried to assuage white Americans of his post-racialism, and failed.

I say he missed an opportunity because he should have aimed his speech at black people (and some others) who believe in the extreme garbage that Wright was preaching, namely the conspiracies that rich white people are responsible for the ills of the black community, that 9/11 was an inside job and America deserved it for supporting Israel against the Palestinians, that blacks fall behind whites in education because of segregation, that a rigged justice system traps black people in prison, and that AIDS and crack were invented by the US government to kill black people. A lot of black people believe that stuff, but it simply isn't true. It is, however, exploited by racist demagogues like Wright, Farrakhan, Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.

By categorically making the case that black people in this country have to come into the mainstream politically, he could have simultaneously demonstrated to his white skeptics that he was serious about not just being the black candidate. In other words, he missed a teaching moment. He missed the ultimate "Sista Souljah Moment." Because he excused Wright and blamed conservatives rather than specify why Wright was wrong about America, he failed to bridge the racial divide, and thus failed to be the post-racial healer that he makes himself out to be.

UPDATE: To put it more succinctly, Obama could have stated that racism is wrong whether its committed by whites OR blacks or anyone else and that the history of racism and discrimination in America doesn't permit blacks to be racist against whites today and certainly doesn't excuse the racist behavior and attitudes like those Reverend Wright displayed. He basically did the opposite as he blamed whites and excused Wright.