Monday, March 17, 2008

More stupid white people

Speaking as a white person of the pale, red-haired, freckled variety, I get really, really embarrassed when other white people say things like "I don't understand why black people have to go ahead and do/say/behave in ways I don't like." Today's culprit is Saul Friedman, wondering why "all" black columnists support Barack Obama.

Of course, Friedman undercuts his own argument early on:

I don’t know every black columnist working these days on papers through the country. And I’m not counting the right-wing black writers like Thomas Sowell, or Armstrong Williams. But I have read many of the mainstream columnists, who are among the finest writers in journalism. And they are almost as one in their praise of Obama and their ridicule of Clinton.

If black journalists really are wowed by candidates who share their skin color, then where were they when, say, Alan Keyes was running for president? Maybe there are other factors involved. Could it be that Obama is actually a skilled politician with a good chance at the presidency while Keyes is a crackpot? Or that Obama is able to reach across assorted party and color lines in ways La Hill or Keyes could never do? Friedman ignores or forgets Obama endorsements from not-exactly-liberal Caucasians like Blue Dog Democrat Stephanie Herseth Sandlin and Susan Eisenhower, granddaughter of Ike. Funny, isn't it?

Friedman also claims that Obama's black critics are being vilified or shamed into silence. Alas, he doesn't give solid examples. La Hill, of course, has her black supporters, Charles Rangel among them. Rangel, of course, is a fellow New Yorker. I suspect that factors into his endorsement.

I was never against La Hill, but she wasn't my first choice. I would've accepted her as a candidate if she hadn't morphed into a rabid pit bull on angel dust in the last month or two. Her mishandling of Geraldine "Trailblazer Turned Loser" Ferraro is an example. As is Bill's flippant commentary about Obama's South Carolina win. ("Of COURSE them uppity Negroes always win South Carolina. That doesn't make them electable!")

The racial attitude of the past 30 years, in which black candidates could run for president but never be considered electable, appear to be shifting (I hope). Previously, black candidates could be admired for being, well, uppity Negroes and getting on the ballot, but now? Now, a black candidate is outdoing La Hill in the delegate counts and even polling ahead of McCain. A sudden rush forward into a post-racial America is still a little scary to comprehend.

Georgie Anne Geyer, a Caucasian center-right columnist, compares Obama and La Hill. Her conclusion? Obama has leadership qualities. La Hill does not.

Leadership is not fighting whatever gets in your precious way at any moment. It is exemplifying and embodying an entire set of profound American principles and beliefs and giving such expression to them on the international stage that other peoples will want to be more, and not less, like us.

Of course, Jesse Jackson and Alan Keyes never had this leadership potential. (Speaking of Keyes, he announced he was running for president this year. Where is he?)

Newsday columnist Sheryl McCarthy adds:
Friedman's question is a variation on one that is frequently asked when African-Americans appear to be coming together. It's on par with "Why do all the black students eat together in the cafeteria?" when asked by worried white college administrators, and "Why are you black guys all gathered around the same desk at work?" when asked by our perplexed white colleagues. The answers to the above are: "because we enjoy each other's company" and "because we are having a conversation."

Friedman's column has the same finger-wagging quality. As if by writing well of Obama we have undermined the vigorous marketplace of ideas, and should apologize for it. As if the only way to prove that we can think critically is to criticize the black guy. I, and a number of other black columnists who have responded to his column on the blog, find this patronizing and insulting.

Well, of course it is. It's also another example of a clueless stupid white person who just can't understand why black people act the way they do.

Heck, Friedman's commenters make stronger points than Friedman himself. Like this guy.