Friday, March 21, 2008

Getting real: the trial by fire

David Seaton's News Links
Henry Ford said that "history is bunk". I think most Americans agree with that and truly want to believe that it is possible to completely erase the past and begin anew... But, in fact the relations between white America and the decedents of African slavery are America's Balkans, which as Churchill said, "produce more history than they can digest". Any American city is Bosnia-Herzegovina. And this is not really about color.... it's about history. A Bosnian Muslim and a Bosnian Serb share the same language and morphology, but history has them at each others throats. Color is just the uniform that American history assigns each player in this horrible game. Denying it doesn't change anything.

I first discovered this when, here is Europe, I was thrown into the company of Cubans and Venezuelans of color and later with African exchange students. No history separated us, there was no tension at all on either side, we hung out together in the most natural way... Even in England, the relationship with students of the British Caribbean, was fluid. African-Americans have told me they experienced the same thing. For all of us it was an inexpressible relief.

It is not about color it is about history. Contrary to what Obama says, we are not "one people", but two peoples, each with distinct, but overlapping cultures, who must share the same space and learn to live with each other and even love one another. I think we have as good a chance as the Bosnians do, but not any better one.

I believe that Barack Obama illustrates perfectly my idea that race relations in the USA are cultural and that color is only a uniform that normally goes with the culture.

Obama is culturally "white". He was raised in Hawaii by white grandparents and went to private schools where the significant non-white population is Asiatic and that not only didn't Hawaii ever have any history of African slavery, it wasn't even a part of the United States at the time of the Civil War. He also lived in Indonesia, where he would have been treated as an American expatriate... an object of mild curiosity. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think Muslim Indonesia attaches any particular stigma to African ancestry.

In short, to paraphrase Reverend Wright, I doubt if any white person ever called Barack Obama "nigger" in his whole life. It seems to me that the Obama took the personal decision to become part of African-American culture, in the same way he could have gone to an ashram in India and become a yogin. Attending such a radically black nationalist church as Wright's was Obama's way of joining the new culture... Now he has been caught by it.

I think Barack Obama is an immensely talented politician, but for him to really become anything great, I think it is essential for him to first fail miserably at something important.

In my opinion this campaign if the first real event in his whole life. If he fails now at this imposture, he may come out of this trial by fire burned a shade darker and a much more interesting and important figure in American life.

More than President at this point I see him as the natural successor to Ted Kennedy. To be President he needs more time in the oven. Paradoxically what Obama is going through now is making him into a culturally genuine African-American. That is when his real story finally begins. DS


RC said...

I think the media, the Democratic Party establishment {DNC} and of course, the Republicans, as well as a few other bullies, paranoids and cretins will do a slow roast on him until November, and after that, if he wins, and I think he will, as he is not a Kerry type or a Dukakis or a Mondale, -- after the inauguration the Republicans and Fox News will slowly grind him down to a Bill Clintonesque demoralization, if they can.
I believe he is betting that they can't. I don't know yet. The brutal machine the Right has in place is formidable, but it has the character of the Oz Wizard, and I feel that the mass of public naifs are finally seeing that.
That's the luck Obama needs.
He needs that just to survive in office, he needs a lot more luck to overcome the hand any president is being dealt right now. It's going to be very hard to turn around the journey to national hell we are riding into right now.

David Seaton's Newslinks said...

I think/feel that the Obama phenomenon is very much part of the journey and in no way the part of the solution.

portia said...

Precisely, David, precisely.
He bought his black authenticity, his non-white credential, with 20 years awake or asleep in one of those pews towards the front of the church.
And now he should pay for it.

Anonymous said...

In defense of Obama:

He has stated that criticism of the Likud party is not anti-semitism.

Forensic econ

David Seaton's Newslinks said...

"He has stated that criticism of the Likud party is not anti-semitism"

He is taking incredible shit for that... we'll see how it lasts.