Weekly Standard Blog: Obama 'Generates...Stark Racial Cleavages Among Americans'

Thursday, May 22, 2008 at 09:05 PM

Well, if the racial shit hasn't yet hit the 2008 election fan, it's certainly close enough for the fan to smell the stink. Here's what Weekly Standard blog poster Gary Andres had to say yesterday about the Gallup Poll showing that Clinton fares considerably better among white voters than does Obama:

It's ironic that a candidate such as Obama -- whose rhetoric and strategy relies so much on building unity -- generates such stark racial cleavages among Americans.

Interesting phrasing, don't you think? Obama "generates" racial cleavages. They come from him. Without him providing the generating power, they...wouldn't be there. Obama, for all intents and purposes, is the racist. And he needs to quit acting so badly, because, if only he didn't generate them, then there wouldn't be any racial cleavages. Because God knows the racists aren't generating any cleavages. Un-Unh, they wouldn't ever do that.

Obama's carrying on the sorry legacy of black people all over the South, who kept generating racial cleavages with the KKK, the Council of Concerned Citizens, and other fine white folk who had nothing at all against black people, but felt compelled to lynch, burn, beat, and torture them because the black people kept on generating these cleavages.

This is classic race-think from the days of the deep South segregation. If only blacks would stay in their place, there'd be no race problems. It's only when the black folks try to cross over into white society, try to interact with whites, maybe even compete with whites, that the poor white folks are left with no choice but to find some crosses, rope, and torches.

Shame on Gary Andres, shame on the Weekly Standard (as if they needed more), and shame on all the Republican operatives and propagandists who are going to beat the living hell out of the racist drums in the next few months. Because of course there's racism left in the US, and of course the true racists aren't going to vote for Obama, and of course the racists will phrase their antagonism to Obama on anything but race. Like the failure to wear that meaningless lapel pin. Or Reverend Wright. Or Michelle Obama's statements about pride in America.

Obama knows that, and any black person of any age in the US knows that. And a whole lot of white people know it too--ever been in a home with a group of white people and heard some really nasty racism pop out? Ever?

None of this justifies even one instance of the Republicans fanning those flames, and it certainly does not justify Hillary Clinton's veiled attempts to scare the Democratic powerbrokers into giving her the nomination out of fear that there's too much racism left for Obama to beat McCain.

Now that the West Virginia and Kentucky primaries have provided such resounding and clear proof that "something" is different in those areas than in most of the rest of the country, it seems the MSM has even begun to publicly acknowledge that racism is going to play a serious role in 2008. I believe I've seen papers like the Washington Post start to admit this, especially as to the vote in Indiana, parts of Pennsylvania & Ohio, W. Virginia, and Kentucky.

Do people really think it's pure chance that these five states--Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and West Virginia-- border each other?

We're essentially talking about the "Appalachian coal basin" folks, including Kentucky, W. Virginia, Western PA and Eastern Ohio. This area and the coal mining which gave it life, have a long, long history of animosity to blacks. The area also tended to be extremely insular, a phenomenon only deepened by the incredible danger that the coal miners and their families faced on a daily basis.

Then there's Indiana, which also has some coal but isn't really part of this coal basin. Indiana long was, however, a site of major KKK activity. According to IND.GOV:

The Ku Klux Klan rose to prominence in Indiana politics and society after World War I.....Nationally, Indiana was said to have the most powerful Ku Klux Klan. Though it counted a high number of members statewide, its importance peaked in the 1924 election of Edward Jackson for governor. A short time later, the scandal that surrounded D.C. Stephenson destroyed the image of the Ku Klux Klan as upholders of law and order.
The KKK may have faded from favor in the Indiana of the 1920s, but the mindset and populace that had supported it remained. Especially in rural and small town areas, this culture remains sufficiently in vogue to account for some heavy anti-Obama voting.

The current New Yorker has a scattershot piece titled "The Fall of Conservatism, Have the Republicans run out of ideas?" by George Packer. The author describes his visit to Inez, Kentucky to hear McCain speak. On the visit, he talks to several locals, from officials to "men in the street" about Obama. Not surprisingly, they are pretty up front about the fact that Obama has no prayer in this area, simply because he is black:

John Preston, who is the county’s circuit-court judge and also its amateur historian, Harvard-educated, with a flag pin on his lapel, said, “Obama is considered an élitist.” He added, “There’s a racial component, obviously, to it. Thousands of people won’t publicly say it, but they won’t vote for a black man—on both sides, Democrat and Republican. It won’t show up in the polls, because they won’t admit it. The elephant’s in the room, but nobody will say it. Sad to say it, but it’s true.” Later, I spoke with half a dozen men eating lunch at the Pigeon Roost Dairy Bar outside town, and none of them had any trouble saying it. They announced their refusal to vote for a black man, without hesitation or apology. “He’s a Muslim, isn’t he?” an aging mine electrician asked. “I won’t vote for a colored man. He’ll put too many coloreds in jobs. Colored are O.K.—they’ve done well, good for them, look where they came from. But radical coloreds, no—like that Farrakhan, or that senator from New York, Rangel. There’d be riots in the streets, like the sixties.” No speech, on race or élitism or anything else, would move them. Here was one part of the white working class—maybe not representative, but at least significant—and in an Obama-McCain race they would never be the swing vote. It is a brutal fact, and Obama probably shouldn’t even mention it.
They don't necessarily want to stand in front of national news tv cameras and announce "My name is Ray and I'm a racist," but they're pretty honest with themselves and with those they trust. The racism is there and it will play a role, and none of that is a reason to choose Hillary or to tolerate Republican race pandering. The time and place have come for Obama to be the nominee, to run a decent campaign based on the very real need for a serious change in direction, and to let us know how much farther we have to go on the race issue.

For what it's worth, I disagree with the New Yorker author that "Obama probably shouldn’t even mention it." I think Obama should mention it. I think he should stand there in full view of the public and say:

Listen, I'm not dumb. I know there are some of you who will not vote for me because of how I look. To the rest of you, I say, is that how you feel? Is that how you want your country to function? Is that not part of the entire package of things that must change if America is to carry on its ideals and have its actions match its stated values?

If so, then look closely at me, not my skin. Examine my actions and my policies and compare them to my opponent's. And I think that you will then vote for me as an American, just as I plan to represent you as an American.

And the racists and the smear mongers and propagandists be damned.

Then let the voting begin.