Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Obama's Churlish Intellectual Sleight of Hand

A lot of geeks who blog have weighed in on Obama's Race Speech. Many on the left have done the intellectual equivalent of the crowd at a fireworks show--Oooh, Ahhh. The commenters on the right have picked their words and way carefully through the modern metaphorical minefield labeled PC, where one misstep gets you branded a racist. I'm just going to focus on one troubling part, where Obama calls his grandma a racist.

I guess I should acknowledge some of the sites which have prompted and helped synthesize this post. Micky Kaus has a lot of good criticism of the speech. Steve Gilbert at Sweetness and Light referred back to the first of Obama's two volume (so far) autobiography, from Dreams of My Father (p. 46) for some background to his claim that granny is a latent member in good standing of what Obama's once and future minister, Jeremiah Wright, called the U. S. of KKKA.

Here's the text regarding why Obama won't reject his hateful, racist preacher:

I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother - 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, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.

What, exactly, is Obama's proof for this charge?

Let's look at the first evidence he gives. His grandmother once confessed (in private) to him "her fear of black men who passed by her on the street." What? If that's all it takes to make you a racist, then Jesse Jackson, who confessed a fear of black men on the street, is a racist against blacks. This is Tweedledum logic and not very good Tweedledum logic at that. There have been black guys on the street who scared me. There have been white guys too, and some who looked vaguely a cross between Iberian and North American Indian... Their race or ethnic origin had nothing to do with it, it was how scary they were: How they carried themselves; the sense of menace they projected. If a scary guy scares you, you're not therefore a racist even if it is a scary guy of a different race or color.

But we know the exact scope and nature of that one time Obama's grandmother was scared--she was accosted by a very large and very aggressive panhandler at the bus stop, oh, who happened to be black. Well granny must be a former Kleagle at least (Wait, no, that's the Democratic President Pro Tempore in the Senate, Robert Byrd). Obama has gotten the meaning of that incident wrong from the very start.

Shame on Obama for turning his grandmother's rational reaction into a charge of racism. Shame on Obama for turning her single private rational non-racist concern into the moral equivalent of the public (available on DVD) serial incitements to race hatred from preacher Wright, in church.

Not just vapid, but dishonest as well. Obama really knows how to return his grandmother's love.


Obama seems to have confused racism with harboring prejudice. Prejudice only truly becomes a negative when one fails to recognize it in himself.
Let me think about that, Eric. I tend to think that prejudice against a race is racism, but I could be wrong.

racism is the inherent belief that one race is of higher breed than another.

I wonder why Obama cringed at what his Granny said, but not at what his pastor has said ?
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