Friday, January 01, 2010

Steeped in Obama-hype

In Obama and Our Post-Modern Race Problem, Shelby Steele once again hits some nails solidly on their heads. He continues with his observations on Barack Obama's role as the important cultural symbol so desired by whites. Eager to display their "sophistication" on the race front, whites joined themselves, writes Steele, "to an obvious falsehood in order to achieve social acceptance." The election of Barack Obama, he claims, was essentially "a national exercise in seeing what was not there and a refusal to see what was there." These blinders were purposely worn by whites "to escape the stigma, not of stupidity, but of racism."

A year before the 2008 election, Steele did not believe that whites would allow their propensity for what he terms "guilt" (but what I call cowardice and fear), to compel them into electing a colored to the White House. This was because whites would probably come to perceive the "dreamy post-racial and post-ideological kitsch" in which Obama dressed his evangelism of "hope and change."

In this current article, Steele claims that Obama was an "invitation to sophistication that America simply could not bring itself to turn down." He calls this tendency on the part of whites "sophistication." I call it vacuousness.

Nothing has pleased the typical race-indoctrinated white more than being able to claim that he "made history" with his vote that helped to put a black man on the ascendance. Look, says this white man, thanks to me, there's goes a black man coming out of the White House, heading for the Presidential helicopter ... Thanks to me, the world is calling a black woman "The First Lady" ... Thanks to me, all those white men sitting around that conference table are subject to that black man ... Thanks to me, that black man gets to vacation not only in Martha's Vineyard, but also at Camp David! And, thanks to me, that black man's portrait will hang alongside the portraits of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.

Aren't I a wonderful person? Look what I've accomplished, exults the white man. You can never again call me a "racist." [Speaking of cultural symbols that make whites feel oh, so good about themselves, see the equivalent of this national frenzy in an earlier New York City mayoral race here.]

Steele describes Obama as the Emperor with no clothes, and writes, "You would think that in the two solid years of daily campaigning leading up to his election this nakedness would have been seen."

Last year, I dropped in on the Secular Right blog and was in for quite a surprise. For some unfathomable reason, I expected this to be a place of rational thinkers. Surely, people who declare themselves free from attachments to conventional, sentimental religions are also free from other kinds of religious attachments, such as those of the Multicultural/Diversity variations. Nothing could have been further from the truth. With just a couple of exceptions, these people were hooked big time on the emotionalism of Barack Obama's rise to prominence. Not only were most of the blog's team of posters thoroughly steeped in Obama-hype, so were most of the commenters.

It happened to be Obama's Inauguration Day and a discussion on the subject was in full swing. The chatter began with reflections on a post quoting remarks from another blog, whose owner is associated with a "science" foundation. Well, Mr. Science admitted that he had "wept," as in cried, while watching the Inauguration ceremony. Secular Right's commenters fell all over themselves to describe their "feelings" as well, and one after another reiterated how touched he was by the Significance of the Moment.

So, here were these white folks weeping all over themselves, and chastising me for failing to be enthralled by "the wonderful significance" of this election. One poster claimed that he knew "plenty of people who cried at this historic moment," and that anyone who did not "should get out more." Whatever that means. There was no expressed concern for the prospective policies that might emanate from this new President. And why should there be? After all, this black man had fulfilled his mission as the ultimate symbol of whites' exoneration from their evil, racist past.

One could almost hear the breathlessness of one of the team posters as she proclaimed her joy that "a majority white nation is now presided over by a black man." A fact she found "overwhelming." See, at last the tables are turned – a black man is now the Boss Man. You can't beat that for righteous symbolism!

It appeared that the only idea to which this site's participants applied their logic is the one that questions the existence of immortal gods. There was clearly no questioning of that which Steele calls Obama's "empty political slogans." Yet, shouldn't political objectives be one's primary concern about a politician – any and every politician?

I wanted to know from these people if we are expected to go through this emotional routine again, if a woman is elected President. How about the first Hispanic/Latino? And when do the Hmong get their turn? Since Latinos are the largest minority group, will these whites work to make them the next symbolic gesture? Will they get all teary-eyed as the first Puerto Rican or Mexican walks up Pennsylvania Avenue on his/her Inauguration Day?

I also wanted to know what difference it would make if Anglo-Euros were to serve as Presidents throughout the rest of this country's history – a country founded by Anglo-Euros. Is the office "owed" to every distinctive group? When I suggested that the blog's posters and commenters were caught up in sentimental, media-staged hype, the angry retorts made it clear that it was time to clear out and leave those good white folks to their Obama love fest.

Shelby Steele is right when he concludes that Barack Obama is "a president come to us out of our national insecurities." And, perhaps, out of our national childishness?


Constructive Feedback said...

Ms Wright - your words and Mr Steele's words are a brilliant expose' on Obama.

With all of that said you both need to look out for the second wave.

Obama's difficulties will soon be framed in the terms of "American Intransigence". It was not that he "had no ideological soul" it was that this was necessary to get through the maze of American politics and the landmines that are abundant.

I can't see any possible way that a Black and union-loyal working class will turn against Obama for failing them WHEN they have not done the same against the local political machine which presently govern the areas where they live.

I prefer to view Obama in the context of the machine which he is a part of. The intermediate frustrations about the results that have been rendered despite their establishment order is due to the fact that they are on a long term "Mission From God". To exact punishment for the failings along the journey is to derail their ultimate objectives in the end.

When the Black community is made to not only redirect our demands for delivery of solutions but to live vicariously through a party and/or one man - the conclusion of this tale can't possibly have a happy ending. A stronger Black community that results is not apparent.

Adrianna said...

I admit it. I am somewhat left of center and I voted for Obama in the general election because I liked a lot of his ideas and did not want to have anything to do with McCain or Palin. Obama was the lesser of two evils.

Boy, am I paying for it.

What's worse is that black bloggers all over the web are still crying that racism is alive and well.

Equal opportunity, not equal outcome. All anyone can do is take advantage of the opportunities you have and let the chips fall where they may.

This reminds me of why so many people I know didn't vote for Hillary Clinton. They either were in favor of her ideas or didn't address them at all. They voted against her because they thought she was a [insert obscenity here.] In other words, they didn't like her personality or image. On the other hand, Obama could ONLY have been elected on that basis. He has no real experience to speak of. Community organizer? Really?

I used to attend town halls. That makes me a community organizer. Does that qualify me to be president?

That just shows how shallow our political system is. Style over substance.

Elizabeth Wright said...

Adrianna wrote:
What's worse is that black bloggers all over the web are still crying that racism is alive and well.

And not only black bloggers; blacks in general. It seemed clear to me that the election of this more-or-less black man, with whom blacks identify, would only embolden the majority of them to make even greater demands on the system, to expect still more.

I liked a lot of his ideas ...

Are you really sure you knew his ideas? Or, as I say in a previous post, did you imbue him with your own notions, that is, projecting what you wanted to believe onto his belief system? I never figured out who this guy was.

In other words, they didn't like her [Hillary] personality or image. On the other hand, Obama could ONLY have been elected on that basis. He has no real experience to speak of. Community organizer?

Yes, you are so right. It was nothing but style over substance, aided and abetted by a fawning media, that simply wanted something different and kinky to report on. Let's face it, a more-or-less black man ruling over a majority white country is certainly unique and will fill up lots of news pages and news sites, even if he sits and does nothing for four years.

When the "Community Organizer" label was put on Obama, I really had to laugh, because there could be no more feeble "occupation," since it can be whatever you claim it is. That term is a resumé filler.

Anonymous said...

Some may opt for the "Community Organizer" which represents "fresh air" as opposed to the stale and moldy "Professional Politicians" who wear a vast array of masks and only seek votes. Then these politicians ditch the electorate until their "services" a.k.a votes are needed 2 or 4 years from now.

Elizabeth Wright said...

You make good points. But how do they not apply even to "community organizers," once they've tasted power? I guess time will tell, and we shall see just how much more honest these supposedly grassroots types are compared to what you call "professional politicians." By now, isn't Obama a professional politician?