Wednesday, September 24, 2008

RACIAL PERCEPTIONS

There’s a lot of different versions of “what if Obama were white” kind of speculations going around the internet, some talking about seeing things through the lens of “white privilege” and others calling out the obvious differences in racial perceptions, or perceptions of different races.

“Race” is of course an unscientific term, as most of us share a common ancestry not too far back and all of us share a common ancestry way back. It’s all the human race.

But, in this country especially, because of the uses of racial theories to justify slavery and then segregation, “race” is all too real.

We’ve made enormous progress since the 1960s when the last of the major Civil Rights legislation was passed and segregation and legal discrimination, especially at the polls, was finally addressed (not that it doesn’t still go on, the most obvious examples being in recent elections in crucial swing states where African-American districts had fewer voting machines, more i.d. checks and turn aways, etc. than affluent white districts).

But still, the overall impact of identifying “Americans” by their “race”—especially the two main ones that were at odds for so many centuries, “white” and “black”—is obviously impacting this election.

The obvious ways have been written about by a lot of people, but just to sum up:

If an African-American had graduated near the bottom of his university class (and gotten in through “affirmative action,” like say having an admiral for a father and grandfather when you want into the Naval Academy), would he even be on the ticket of a major party for president?

If an African-American had a record of crashing planes and starting fights in the service and being a hellraiser, drinking and carousing and womanizing, and then been captured in a war and under torture had broken and given a confession etc., would he be on a major party’s ticket running as president?

If an African-American was known for being a hothead and demonstrated that during a presidential campaign by saying he’d “decapitate” the white head of an agency who happened to be a personal foe of one of that black candidate’s black advisors, and it was pointed out that that agency wasn’t even responsible for the problem and was not someone a president could fire anyway…?

And if a black candidate did all that and was running against a white one who was the child of a single mother who was once on food stamps but who through hard work and intelligence had gotten a great education and come out at the top of all his classes and been elected head of the Harvard Law Review and then turned down offers to make millions in law firms and instead organized ordinary working people to better their neighborhoods and themselves and then went on to be elected a state Senator and pass legislation that cut people's taxes and helped get more health care for children and brought about ethics reforms and then went on to Congress as a Senator and passed and pushed for similar legislation and showed prescience in predicting exactly what would happen in an uncalled for war and made suggestions for how to deal with foreign adversaries and his opponents, though initially against it, eventually agreed this white Senator with the high intelligence and calm demeanor had been right all along, think that white guy would be ahead in the polls?

And what if the black candidate was known as a womanizer and had been having an affair with his current wife when he was still married to a previous one, and married a woman with an enormous fortune who could back his political ambitions, including buying a house in a district that had a vacancy for a politician to run even though neither he nor his wife had ever lived there before....?

If an African-American politician had a pregnant seventeen-year-old unmarried daughter, and the black teenage boy responsible had an internet site on which he bragged about liking to get his gun and “shoot shit” and how he loved to party and loved the women and never wanted to be tied down by marriage… Do we even have to go on?

Or what if an African-American had served as mayor of a very small town of mostly other African-Americans and had cut taxes for big corporations that their spouse worked for and raised taxes on everyone else and let development run rampant and destroy the local environment and looked into the possibility of banning books that portrayed whites kindly….

And then became governor of one of the least populated states in the country made up of mostly other African-Americans and took more pork from Washington than most any other state and hired black high school buddies to head state agencies even though they had no experience or credentials to do so, and spent most of their time at home (while collecting per diem from the state) or out shooting and killing animals….

Would that African-American, also with zero foreign affairs experience—not having even had a passport or left the country until a year before and then only to fly to one destination in a country bordering on one where our troops were fighting, but not going to the country where the actual fighting is going on (Kuwait, rather than Iraq) and claimed to have visited other countries as well, because the plane stopped in them for a few hours to refuel—would that African-American be chosen as a vice-presidential pick by a major party presidential candidate?

There’s plenty more, like what if an African-American candidate belonged to a church that believes the “end times” are near and that their state will be a refuge for all like minded believers when those end times come and destroy all the unbelievers including even members of the same general religion but who don’t believe the exact tenants of this small branch of that religion, and whose spouse belonged to an organization that believed their state should secede and have nothing to do with “America” and in fact labeled “America” as an enemy country!

Here’s one I haven’t seen going around: What if a bunch of African-Americans had taken over some businesses and gambled with millions of people's money while they collected fees in the hundreds of millions and then when the businesses lost everything, they came to us taxpayers and asked us to bail them out?

Or if a "black" man went to Congress and asked to be given more money than has ever been given to any entity, let alone one man, in the government, an unelected man, and the conditions he put on this handout were that the government could never question his decisions or regulate them or even bring them up before a court if they were found to be illegal, that in fact he would be prosecution free forever concerning anything to do with this $700 billion dollars he was asking for?

Think he’d even get that far?

6 comments:

JIm said...

I thought sexual peccadilloes were so last millennium. After all Bill Clinton taught us that sexual indiscretions were not of serious consequence. Even lying about those indiscretions was not real dishonesty, since it was only sexual. On one level John McCain is not in Bill Clinton’s league since he did not perjure himself to a court or lie to the American people. I would think that a seasoned gentleman like you, who has been around the block a few times, would cut a guy some slack. His major indiscretion occurred after being imprisoned and tortured for his country. A little mid life craziness almost seems justified, particularly to me, since I have been around the block a few times myself.

US Grant proved to be a poor student at West Point but a winner in war. Robert E. Lee led is West Point class but lost a war. McCain got mediocre grades in a school that requires considerable engineering credits. I suspect that the curriculum was considerably harder than liberal arts from Columbia or language arts from Iowa. John McCain served honorably in war and in peace. He had executive experience in leading a wing of the navy. A community organizer, with no discernable accomplishments, is not in the same league as John McCain . Obama was chairman of the Chicago Annenberg project. The charter of the organization was to improve the Chicago school system. The Annenberg project distributed $100,000,000 to communists, socialists, and community pet projects of Bill Ayers, 60’s and 70’s terrorist. Ayers sat on the same board and had great influence in picking Obama as chairman and on distributing the moneys. The Chicago School system continues to be one of the worst in the country. I would rather have an irascible hell raiser with accomplishments, than a community organizer that consorts with and supports terrorists like Ayers.

Phillipa said...

Troll (Internet)

"An Internet troll, or simply troll in Internet slang, is someone who posts controversial and irrelevant or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum or chat room, with the intention of provoking other users into an emotional response[1] or to generally disrupt normal on-topic discussion."

"Experienced participants in online forums know that the most effective way to discourage a troll is usually to ignore him or her, because responding tends to encourage trolls to continue disruptive posts — hence the often-seen warning: "Please do not feed the trolls".

- from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

JIm said...

phlippa,
I think your response is just precious. Rather then engage in political discourse that you are unable or unwilling to reply to with reasoned debate, backed with facts and or brilliantly, apparent intellectual prowess, you will retreat to the recesses and curse the one with whom you disagree with. How "Liberal'! How "Progressinve"!

Caitlin said...

Thank you Phillipa!!!

Re: the post, "Think he'd even get that far?" I'm thinking the lack of comments is stating the obvious answer, not a chance.

Jamie said...

Love this post lals.

xo
Jame

The DJ said...

THE TRUTH SHALL SET YOU FREE!!!