Thursday, February 28, 2008

Our finest hour

David Seaton's News Links
"Bullshit" is a word found neither in Shakespeare nor the King James Bible and yet it is perhaps America's greatest contribution to the common heritage of the English speaking peoples.

It holds a wealth of meaning and whatever its humble etymology, it gives a name to something that is the greatest danger to America, its republic, its institutions, its people and through them the health and sanity of the entire world.

In truth, you you don't have to be an assiduous reader of Noam Chomsky, Gore Vidal or Thomas Frank to get a grip on the throbbing thickness of American Bullshit, to a clear eye it is ubiquitous and so penetrating that perhaps only a starveling yogin trained down fine in some Himalayan cave would be immune to it.

The daily labor of cleansing its Augean mess from the heart and mind is a duty paid to sanity and the bride price of a limpid heart. DS

Cor blimey, that's better out than in!

Here is some homework for News Linkers. DS

Obama victory will prolong US racial divide - Times
One of Britain’s most influential black figures today accused Barack Obama of cynically exploiting America’s racial divide and gave warning that he could prolong, rather than heal the rift.

Trevor Phillips, chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, claimed that the Democratic front-runner would ultimately disappoint the African-American community and dismissed the notion that he would be "the harbinger of a post-racial America" if he becomes the country’s first black President.

Writing in Prospect, the monthly current affairs magazine, Mr Phillips suggested that guilt over transatlantic slavery was behind Mr Obama’s support from middle class whites.

"If Obama can succeed, then maybe they can imagine that [Martin Luther] King's post-racial nirvana has arrived. A vote for Obama is a pain-free negation of their own racism. So long as they don't have to live next door to him; Obama has yet to win convincingly in white districts adjacent to black communities," he wrote.

Mr Phillips compared Mr Obama to Bill Cosby and Oprah Winfrey, prominent black “bargainers” – those who strike a deal with white America not to make an issue of historical racism if their own race is not used against them.

But, in a warning to the Democratic candidate, he added that Cosby now cut a “sad and lonely figure” because he had abandoned the moral weapon used by figures such as Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X and Jesse Jackson in insisting that “in the end, salvation for blacks won’t depend on the actions of whites.”

"In truth, Obama may be helping to postpone the arrival of a post-racial America and I think he knows it," Mr Phillips wrote. "If he wins, the cynicism may be worth it to him and his party. In the end he is a politician and a very good one: his job is to win elections."

He added: "If he fulfils the hopes of whites, he must disappoint blacks – and vice versa."


kalsang said...

This is what is known as a double bind: if Barrack Obama gets no white vote, then that's because white people are too racist to vote for him. If Barrack Obama gets the white vote, then that's because white people are voting for him out of racism.
With this kind of monolithic presupposition of racism as the only possible motive of white people in any context, black people who succeed in the mainstream (rather than staying ghetto-ised) are doomed to condemnation as sell-outs, tokens, or Uncle Toms.
What this amounts to is, fail or get denounced as not 'black' enough--which is a damned sad thing for America as a whole, as well as specifically for the black middle class in America, which as I understand it, largely formed itself by its bootstraps with the leverage of the GI Bill which for the first time ever gave black Americans economic access to education.
The Obama phenomenon is complex, and doubtless there is a white guilt element, but to say that his white supporters are merely motivated by racist guilt is ridiculous. It pre-supposes that a black man could never actually be inspiring support because people (even white people) think he's the best candidate for president. This is a sad assumption, which many black writers have written and spoken on with more passion than me. It seems that whatever an African American does, American society finds some way to condemn it.
It's interesting that Obama has most support among the young--could it be that race is not such a monolith for many of them?

jeg43 said...

That was a wonderfully pointed post about an article by a perfect example of bloody english bastard. I better understand why the Irish hate them.
Compliments also to kalsang for the excellent comments.
I, too, have noticed the interest our American white youth have shown in Obama's campaign. I can only hope that it does show some progress toward racial colorblindness in the U.S.

kalsang said... the way, I'm English.