But now that much is known, it's the audio and video clips that have been so damaging. Apologists can spin the stories 40 different ways (earlier in the week I heard a putative feminist call Obama's speech addressing the Wright situation a "smashing success" on NPR), but as is said, a picture is worth a thousand words, and the clips are everywhere. I'm reminded of hearing about Nick Berg's beheading on the news cycle and then seeing a video of it [the link is very graphic] for the first time. My reaction become much more visceral after viewing the video, and the story became forever lodged in my memory.
Whether the electoral realignment among younger voters is a surging force for Hillary or can be explained away less extraordinarily, Pat Buchanan's recent column in response to Obama's didactic speech on March 18th captures my sentiment as a twenty-something white male well:
The "white community," said Barack, must start "acknowledging that what ails the African-American community does not just exist in the minds of black people; that the legacy of discrimination—and current incidents of discrimination, while less overt than in the past—are real and must be addressed. Not just with words, but with deeds ... ." [Full text]Would Obama rather be migrating westward through rutted mud roads with other members of the Luo tribe in Kenya? Would Wright rather be living in Zimbabwe?
And what deeds must we perform to heal ourselves and our country?
The "white community" must invest more money in black schools and communities, enforce civil rights laws, ensure fairness in the criminal justice system and provide this generation of blacks with "ladders of opportunity" that were "unavailable" to Barack's and the Rev. Wright's generations. ...
Barack says we need to have a conversation about race in America.
Fair enough. But this time, it has to be a two-way conversation. White America needs to be heard from, not just lectured to.
This time, the Silent Majority needs to have its convictions, grievances and demands heard. And among them are these:
First, America has been the best country on earth for black folks. It was here that 600,000 black people, brought from Africa in slave ships, grew into a community of 40 million, were introduced to Christian salvation, and reached the greatest levels of freedom and prosperity blacks have ever known.
Wright ought to go down on his knees and thank God he is an American.
Second, no people anywhere has done more to lift up blacks than white Americans. Untold trillions have been spent since the '60s on welfare, food stamps, rent supplements, Section 8 housing, Pell grants, student loans, legal services, Medicaid, Earned Income Tax Credits and poverty programs designed to bring the African-American community into the mainstream.
Governments, businesses and colleges have engaged in discrimination against white folks—with affirmative action, contract set-asides and quotas—to advance black applicants over white applicants.
Churches, foundations, civic groups, schools and individuals all over America have donated time and money to support soup kitchens, adult education, day care, retirement and nursing homes for blacks.
We hear the grievances. Where is the gratitude?
Barack talks about new "ladders of opportunity" for blacks.
Let him go to Altoona and Johnstown, and ask the white kids in Catholic schools how many were visited lately by Ivy League recruiters handing out scholarships for "deserving" white kids.
Is white America really responsible for the fact that the crime and incarceration rates for African-Americans are seven times those of white America? Is it really white America's fault that illegitimacy in the African-American community has hit 70 percent and the black dropout rate from high schools in some cities has reached 50 percent?
Is that the fault of white America or, first and foremost, a failure of the black community itself?
As for racism, its ugliest manifestation is in interracial crime, and especially interracial crimes
of violence. Is Barack Obama aware that while white criminals choose black victims 3 percent of the time, black criminals choose white victims 45 percent of the time?
Is Barack aware that black-on-white rapes are 100 times more common than the reverse, that black-on-white robberies were 139 times as common in the first three years of this decade as the reverse?
We have all heard ad nauseam from the Rev. Al about Tawana Brawley, the Duke rape case and Jena. And all turned out to be hoaxes. But about the epidemic of black assaults on whites that are real, we hear nothing.
Sorry, Barack, some of us have heard it all before, about 40 years and 40 trillion tax dollars ago.
The purchasing power parity of the average black in the US is about two-thirds greater than the PPP of the average person in Botswana, the world's wealthiest black country (excluding the oil-rich anomaly of Equitorial Guinea). A black American born today can expect to live into his seventies. If he's born anywhere in sub-Saharan Africa, he'll be beating the odds in making it past sixty.
African slavery in the western hemisphere can be seen as one of the best things to have happened from the perspective of contemporary black Americans and one of the worst things to have happened from the perspective of contemporary white Americans. Crime, poverty, 'failing schools', curtailment of free speech, international embarassment, and the occasional personal destruction of scientific pioneers are among the consequences white America has suffered.
Koreans absorbed a generation of brutality at home that in many ways was worse than the black experience in the US during the first half of the 20th Century, and Jews have repeatedly faced persecution from Christians extending as far back as the sermons of St. John of Chrysostum in the 5th Century, after Jews no longer presented any serious secular threat to the Christian world. Yet today's Ashkenazi Jews aren't exactly languishing at the bottom of American society.
I know I'm making far more than a cultural comparison when I consider Korean and Jewish performance to that of blacks in the US. To expect parity is beyond unreasonable, to the 'credit' of black America. I'm interested in ways of ameliorating the situation at home and internationally. But the lecturing--Jon Meachem of Newsweek called the racial issues Obama had to address white America's "original sin" on last weekend's Meet the Press--of whites makes me boil.
It's hard for me, born in 1983, to think of exactly what racial sins I'm guilty of having committed*. And far from being ashamed of what my fathers have done, I'm awed at the trillions of dollars in concessions they've made, the moral lashing they continue to refrain from giving though it seems deserved, and the merit in society they've foregone in an attempt to integrate a largely ungrateful, underachieving, burdensome, and often downright dangerous minority into the larger majority--goodwill that surpasses in effort and scope any other ever undertaken by a nation's market-dominant majority on behalf of one of its minorities.
*It's not even relevant, but since this is personal, I might as well point out that I've dealt with more urban blacks through work, volunteering, and playing ball (there's a lot of court talent at your run-of-the-mill section 8 housing complex) than many people will meet in their entire lifetimes.