Monday, March 17, 2008

Steyn on Obama's Pastor

In tight spots in the colonies a century back, Cecil Rhodes used to buck up his men by telling them that each had been an Englishman and therefore had won first prize in the lottery of life. Today, to be born an American is to win first prize in the lottery of life. One understands why that might not seem obvious to black people of a certain age: Condi Rice, for example, has childhood memories of a segregated south and racial violence. But that's what makes Obama's association with Wright so significant. He's not from Alabama. He's a biracial middle-class Kenyan-Kansan Hawaiian-born Indonesian-raised Columbia and Harvard graduate who chose to immerse himself in the most corrosive and paranoid end of a racial-grievance ghetto mentality that is nothing to do with him, his family or his upbringing. He doesn't have the same excuse as a Jackson, Sharpton or Farrakhan. 

My impression is that twenty years ago, Obama wanted to associate himself with "authentic African-Americans" -- black Americans who were, you know, descendants of slaves.  This was his way of dealing with the "Is he black enough?" question within his local community.  Seems like it worked out OK until recently.  Sure, it looks bad now.  Actually, it is bad, and Obama deserves criticism for not facing the issue when he was elected to the Senate.  But why didn't this come up during his Senate race?  Reverend Wright has been around for a long time.  Didn't the press in Illinois notice some of these outrageous statements back then?  Obama wants to be a unifying politician.  That means leaving racial separatists behind.  If he makes the right choice now, I say better late than never.  Many conservatives were slow to accept civil rights, but they got past it and these days most conservatives are strongly in favor of color-blind equal rights.  Many so-called "civil rights activists" have been promulgating racism as a basis for their political advantage.  Maybe, Obama's run for the presidency will force him to leave the race-baiters behind.  If that happens, it would be a good thing.  If it doesn't, it may be another twenty years before we get another chance to move past race in politics.

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