Race Issues Archives

Congratulations, America!

It’s (mostly) official.  Barack Obama has clinched the Democratic presidential nomination, based on the number of convention delegates who are either pledged to him or are super-delegates that say they’ll vote for him.  Partisanship and politics aside, this is a fantastic day for America, having the first black candidate for the White House. 

I believe this isn’t so much a step on the journey as it is an indication — proof, if you will — that those steps have already been taken.  I’m proud of our country, and frankly I’d have been just as proud had Hillary Clinton been the first woman to lead a major party ticket.  That she was a viable candidate the entire way through the primary season also speaks to our progress on that journey.

(And now, let the games begin. >grin<)

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Ferraro on "Democrats’ Sexism"

Geraldine Ferraro discusses how the protracted and nasty Democratic primary season has split the party, enough for her to be concerned about November.

LAST YEAR at the beginning of the presidential primary season, Democrats were giddy with excitement. Not only did we have an embarrassment of riches in our candidates but we had two historic candidacies to enjoy. Once and for all our country would show that racism and sexism were not part of our 21st-century DNA.

Here we are at the end of the primary season, and the effects of racism and sexism on the campaign have resulted in a split within the Democratic Party that will not be easy to heal before election day. Perhaps it’s because neither the Barack Obama campaign nor the media seem to understand what is at the heart of the anger on the part of women who feel that Hillary Clinton was treated unfairly because she is a woman or what is fueling the concern of Reagan Democrats for whom sexism isn’t an issue, but reverse racism is.

As you may know, Ferraro is a Clinton supporter, so her criticism needs to be looked at through that lens. But the main issue here I think is that identity politics hath wrought this on the Democrats themselves. Frankly, I’ve not seen the sexism or racism Ferraro alludes to. I have read criticism of Obama from Clinton-supporting sites like TalkLeft, and I’ve read (rather nasty) criticism of Clinton from Obama-supporting sites like Daily Kos.

What I have seen are complaints that the Clintons are corrupt liars, Obama doesn’t have broad enough appeal within the base, jabs against folks in Appalachia, and other such sniping, but not sexism or racism. In fact, Ferraro’s column later notes that some are requesting an investigation in whether or not it actually happened.

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The Radical Wright

Obama could no sooner disown the Rev. Jeremiah Wright than he could disown the black community.  Well, at least up until the past few days.  He still hasn’t disowned him per se, but he certainly has tried to distance himself from his 20-year pastor.

But the discussion has been that what one heard from Wright’s pulpit was part and parcel of church in that selfsame black community.  But the LA Times has been asking black clergymen in LA and finds that, no, Wright’s rants aren’t necessarily mainstream.

In a series of nationally televised appearances over the last few days, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. has defended his controversial remarks as "prophetic theology," and said criticism of him amounted to an attack on the black church.
But most black church leaders and members reached Tuesday disagreed.

"This didn’t have anything to do with the black church — it was basically an attack on the individual message he proclaimed, which hurt some individuals," said the Rev. K.W. Tulloss of Weller Street Missionary Baptist Church in Boyle Heights. "My own members were offended by Rev. Wright’s words. His views have cast a wedge between people, and that’s the exact opposite of the unity Jesus represented."


Bishop John Bryant of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, who has known Wright for 30 years, said he would have used less provocative language.

"How one speaks is as important as the right to do so," Bryant said. "If it is done in an inflammatory way, the substance of the message gets lost in the rhetorical style."

Kerman Maddox, a member of First AME church in Los Angeles, said that he had listened to hundreds of sermons in black churches nationwide as part of his political and community work, and that Wright’s messages did "not represent mainstream black thought on Sunday morning."

He said he had never heard pastors curse America or proclaim, as Wright had, that the U.S. government caused AIDS among blacks. He said the common pulpit themes had long been unity, personal responsibility, loving your neighbor and improving your neighborhoods.

But the biggest concern Tuesday among local black religious leaders — and across a wide swath of black Los Angeles — was not about Wright’s words per se but about their impact on Obama’s historic campaign.

It’s been a while since all this came out; why didn’t anyone in the media think to ask these questions earlier? 

But the main question to me is this; what does this say about Obama himself?  He’s not running on experience — he’ll lose to McCain if he is — so one of main things to consider is his judgement.  If he’s shocked to find out that his own pastor is so far out of the mainstream after spending 20 years with him, that does not reflect well on that judgement.

Will He Get The Ferraro Treatment

Uh oh, don’t these Democrats realize that you simply can’t talk about this sort of thing in polite company?

Wading back into the Democratic presidential race, billionaire businessman Bob Johnson said Monday that Sen. Barack Obama would not be his party’s leading candidate if he were white.

Yes, apparently Mr. Johnson does recall Geraldine Ferraro’s remarks, and in fact agrees with them.

Johnson’s comments to the Observer echoed those of former vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro. She stepped down as an adviser to Sen. Hillary Clinton last month after saying Obama wouldn’t be where he is if he were white.

"What I believe Geraldine Ferraro meant is that if you take a freshman senator from Illinois called `Jerry Smith’ and he says I’m going to run for president, would he start off with 90 percent of the black vote?" Johnson said. "And the answer is, probably not… ."

"Geraldine Ferraro said it right. The problem is, Geraldine Ferraro is white. This campaign has such a hair-trigger on anything racial … it is almost impossible for anybody to say anything."

Well, I wouldn’t say Ferraro’s skin color was a "problem" in the general sense, because that shouldn’t have mattered.  Equally, Bob Johnson’s skin color shouldn’t matter either, but if you click here and pull up the web page for the article, you’ll notice that he is black.  Not only can he say that Obama’s color is a factor in his popularity, he can also say that it was a "problem" for Ferraro to say this because of her color.

Whether or not you agree with Johnson’s assessments, I highly doubt he’s going to come under fire nearly as much as Ferraro for what amounts to a restating and expanding of her comments.  Obama himself may take a shot back, but the uproar, or lack thereof, over this will be telling.

And again I have to come back to the question; who it is that really has a problem with this?  It’s Democrats, the ones who insist they have more common cause with Dr. King.  It’s not just that talking about racial issues (which they, like Obama, insist they want to have a conversation on) can be taboo, but it’s a different sized taboo (or none at all) depending on the race of the speaker.  Your opinion is simply not tolerated unless you are of a particular race. 

Isn’t that, y’know, the very definition of racism?  Isn’t this allegedly what political correctness — AKA liberal sensitivity — was supposed to remove?  And yet liberals find themselves yet again in a bed, nay coffin of their own making.  Identity politics is ripping the party apart, and now oversensitivity to racial issues is continuing the breakdown. 

The facade that is the Democratic party has some gaping fissures. 

Shire Network News #122

Shire Network News #122 has been released. The feature interview is with British Member of Parliament for Wells, David Heathcote-Amery. He is talking to Tom Paine about the precarious state of democracy in Europe with a new European constitution (in all but name) being rammed down the throats of an unwilling populace. Click here for the show notes, links, and ways to listen to the show; directly from the web site, by downloading the mp3 file, or by subscribing with your podcatcher of choice.

Below is the text of my commentary.

Hi, this is Doug Payton for Shire Network News, asking you to "Consider This".

Senator Barack Obama gave a speech in Philadelphia this past week on race issues. The speech was precipitated by connections being drawn between Obama and his pastor of 20 years, Rev. Jeremiah Wright.  This "religious Wright" has put the Left into a bit of quandary.  "How do we ignore or minimize this sort of speech, while still reserving the right to castigate the Right for the same thing?"

Take Pat Robertson.  Yeah, yeah, I know some of you want to say "Please!" (ba-da-dum), but hear me out.  The same folks who are telling us about Rev. Wright that we gotta’ understand his point of view, or understand his background, or consider the history of blacks in this country, never ever give the same consideration when Robertson says something inflammatory or just simply silly.  And when he does say something outrageous, here comes the Left with their size 82 paintbrush and their #10 can of tar, standing outside every church ready to paint all those church-goers with the same stuff.  >slop<  "Wingnut!"  >sploosh< "Extremist!" 

Now, frankly, we do need to take history into consideration when working cross-culturally.  Heck, even intra-culturally; not all people of pallor come from exactly the same background.  But there are a few points to consider.  First of all, is handwaving away or minimizing the best way to combat lies or conspiracy theories?  (I don’t think so.)  Sounds to me like the Left is more concerned with hurt feelings than, y’know, lies.  The press has clearly signaled that they’d just like this whole thing to go away.  "Nothing to see here, move along.  Oh look, McCain make a speaking gaffe!"

And maybe this would all be less of a deal if my second point wasn’t that these words were coming from a pulpit.  Most of Robertson’s statements that actually get press come on a TV show where he’s covering the news, not preaching.  Wright’s comments come directly from his role as a pastor.  I see this as more egregious in this context than normal political speech on the street.  And yet those paintbrushes come out from those on the Left >splosh< and they decorate us when a guy who’s not our pastor, priest or rabbi goes out on a limb. 

My third point is probably the most controversial, so let me be as plain as I can and lay this out.  When a man of one race says something controversial, he’s called out on it, loud and clear.  When a man of a different race says something controversial, all manner of considerations are made for him; from the history of how his race was treated — true as it may be — to the understanding of why he might hold such ideas to the fact that others’ views are worse.  What would you call that double standard?

In this country, the Right will call out nuttiness where it finds it, even in its own camp.  The Left won’t.  Which side sounds like it’s more ready for racial equality?  Consider that.

The Religious Wright

Senator Barack Obama gave a speech in Philadelphia yesterday on race issues. The speech was precipitated by connections being drawn between Obama and his black liberation theology pastor of 20 years, Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

Many people have been turning to the Internet to view statements by his longtime pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who suggested in one sermon that the United States brought the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on itself and in another said blacks should damn America for continuing to mistreat them.

Obama rejected Wright’s divisive statements but still embraced the man who brought him to Christianity, officiated at his wedding, baptized his two daughters and inspired the title of his book "The Audacity of Hope."

Not disown, perhaps, but much of that association has been scrubbed from Obama’s website and elsewhere on the Internet. And that’s begging the question; are Rev. Wright’s view extreme for black liberation theology? See here for Mark Olsen’s look into this. If they are extreme, what does it say about the candidate who supports that church by his attendance and, likely, his money? If they aren’t extreme, what does it say about the theology, in addition to the candidate?  [UPDATE: James Taranto reports that they may be more mainstream than some would like to think.]

So then, are a candidate’s pastor’s views fair game for consideration on the campaign trail? Before you answer, consider how the occasional words of Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell have been used to paint evangelical Christians with a broad brush, both in the media and in the blogs. But Falwell wasn’t, and Robertson isn’t, the pastor of the vast majority of those people for whom the Left likes to suggest they speak for. Obama, on the other hand, attends by personal choice. If the Left wants to make Robertson the spokesman for millions who may have not heard him speak, doesn’t that standard then apply to someone with a 20-year, close association with a presidential candidate?

Or is there one standard for the Religious Right, and another for the Religious Wright?

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And they’re not happy with it.

Within minutes of posting a story on CNN’s homepage called “Gender or race: Black women voters face tough choices in South Carolina,” readers reacted quickly and angrily.

Readers want media to focus more on the candidates and how they feel about the issues not their gender or race.

Many took umbrage at the story’s suggestion that black women voters face “a unique, and most unexpected dilemma” about voting their race or their gender.

CNN received dozens of e-mails shortly after posting the story, which focuses largely on conversations about Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama that a CNN reporter observed at a hair salon in South Carolina whose customers are predominantly African-American.

The story states: “For these women, a unique, and most unexpected dilemma, presents itself: Should they vote their race, or should they vote their gender?” Read the story

An e-mailer named Tiffany responded sarcastically: “Duh, I’m a black woman and here I am at the voting booth. Duh, since I’m illiterate I’ll pull down the lever for someone. Hm… Well, he black so I may vote for him… oh wait she a woman I may vote for her… What Ise gon’ do? Oh lordy!”

Frankly, it’s very heartening to hear this, after the news reports that the African-American women at Atlanta’s Spelman College were seriously fretting over this very question. Possibly, maybe, hopefully, this is the beginning of the end for identity politics.

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The Iowa Caucuses

The next phase of the presidential campaign season began yesterday as Iowans held their respective caucuses (caucii?). Some surprises, and some expected results


This is the “surprise” category. While only 1% behind the guy in front of her, and while getting 29% of the vote, Hillary Clinton (The Inevitable One(tm)) placed a disappointing 3rd behind Obama and Edwards. For a campaign machine that has been essentially running non-stop since 1992, this must be a serious blow. I heard on the radio this morning that she arrived in New Hampshire at 5am, apparently bailing out of Iowa as soon as she could. It ain’t over by any stretch of the imagination, but this is an upset.

As a blow against identity politics, which I’ve covered before, Barack Obama’s 38% victory shows that white folks will indeed vote for a black man with whom they agree. I think this goes for members of either party frankly. (I personally wished J. C. Watts had decided to run when I watched him during the Bill Clinton impeachment debate.) Iowa has a lower percentage of blacks than in the country in general, and yet Obama won handily. I don’t agree with Obama’s policies, but I’m glad to see this result. Hope the girls at Spelman College take a lesson from this and vote policy and position rather than color.


Huckabee picked up the win here, as expected. Well, as most recently expected, not as anyone expected 4 months ago, which points out that polls really are just barometers of how people think or feel now. Iowa GOPers are 60% evangelical, so quite likely identity politics did play a part here. See Bryan at Hot Air, who notes that this is “a reversal in the way the two parties tend to think and choose their respective leader”. Indeed, and I really hope this isn’t a new trend. I do generally want a candidate that shares my values, but I’m not necessarily going to get hung up on their religion. However, religion tracks quite closely with positions I want to see, so it does play a large part.

I don’t agree with the Article VI blog that evangelicals will never vote for a Mormon. Some won’t, I’m sure, but one caucus does not a trend make, and Romney’s flip-flopping on hot-button issues like abortion and gay rights likely have more to do with his 2nd place finish than his religion. He was only 9% behind Huckabee, so this isn’t quite the blow they’re making it sound like. While Iowans, according to a poll noted on Article VI, generally do consider religious belief high on the list, I think (and I hope) that identity politics play less of a role as time goes on.

Read the whole Article VI post. Even though I disagree with the thrust of the post, it has a lot of good information on this identity issue with Republicans. Includes this from Albert Mohler being interviewed by Hugh Hewitt:

AM: Well, let’s put it this way. Evangelical Christians are very much committed to a Christian worldview that reaches every aspect of life. But there really isn’t an Evangelical foreign policy. There’s really not an Evangelical tariff or tax policy. And I think when everything’s identified that way, well, I’m going to be honest, there’s a bit of self-protectionism here.

HH: Yup.

AM: I don’t want to get blamed for everything that a supposedly Evangelical president might do that in terms of policy would be disagreeable.

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If you’ve received all your information about the “Jena 6” from the mainstream media, Craig Franklin says that your information is almost entirely inaccurate, no thanks to “investigative” journalists.

There’s just one problem: The media got most of the basics wrong. In fact, I have never before witnessed such a disgrace in professional journalism. Myths replaced facts, and journalists abdicated their solemn duty to investigate every claim because they were seduced by a powerfully appealing but false narrative of racial injustice.

I should know. I live in Jena. My wife has taught at Jena High School for many years. And most important, I am probably the only reporter who has covered these events from the very beginning.

The reason the Jena cases have been propelled into the world spotlight is two-fold: First, because local officials did not speak publicly early on about the true events of the past year, the media simply formed their stories based on one-side’s statements – the Jena 6. Second, the media were downright lazy in their efforts to find the truth. Often, they simply reported what they’d read on blogs, which expressed only one side of the issue.

The real story of Jena and the Jena 6 is quite different from what the national media presented. It’s time to set the record straight.

He goes on to enumerate and explain 12 myths that have been put forth about this incident. And it’s not just the journalists’ fault, either. The Jacksons, Sharptons, and awards show that features these youths all participated in the spreading of these stories. It appears that no one learned a single thing from the Duke Lacrosse case, at least no one that needed to learn something.

The enthusiasm with which those that claim to care about race relations pounce on these situations without getting the full story first really minimizes cases of real racism. They themselves are responsible for desensitizing the American public to the presence of racism, which may not be as prevalent as Jackson and Sharpton pretend it is. But each time they yell about racism where it doesn’t exist, the public tends to tune them out more, and so the next time they have to yell louder to get noticed (e.g. comparing Jena to Selma in the civil rights fight). And when it turns out to be another non-story, the cycle continues.

Where racism exists, it should be confronted and exposed. But until they reserve their ire to real cases of racism and don’t jump to conclusions, the Jacksons and Sharptons of the world will only do harm to their cause.

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