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Sorry, One More Trump Post: Is Trump More Helpful Than We Realized? | Main | Just Noting
April 29, 2011

Really Good Blogging Heads On Obama and Race

John McWhorter plays here the sort of conservative guy who's not giving credence to the various claims that all criticism of Obama must be rooted in racism, but the surprise is that the other guy, Glen Loury, turns out to be mostly reasonable as well.

Oh, he's pushing for a little space to deem attacks on Obama racist, but ultimately concedes the bulk of McWhorter's point.

The whole thing is good, but if you're looking for a highlight, the birther/academic questions stuff is in the first 12 minutes or so, but the best part, for me, is the end.

The middle is about whether the media is/was in the tank for Obama and gave him a pass on his "shady" connections at Columbia and didn't otherwise vet him. Answer from both: Yes.

The end (starting around 26:30, but there are preludes to the idea earlier) is about these two black guys trying to figure out, intellectually and personally, what an Obama 2012 loss means. Both voted for him and were "euphoric" over the election, they both say. And the interesting thing here is that they're guessing as to the black reaction to a loss, the natural tendency to take a loss by Obama as a loss themselves (in the exact same way an Obama win was a win for themselves), and what the whole reaction to that will say about equality in the end -- what I took from it is that they're saying blacks will be equal not only when a black man can be elected president ("as Jesus," McWhorter notes) and triumph, but also when he can lose and fail.

They don't precisely say that, but that's what they're talking about.

The Triumphant Jesus part is a sort of immature Hero's Narrative, the Magic Negro thing so beloved by Hollywood, because blacks remain in that sort of narrative not fully human, but abstracted symbols of virtue or dignity in oppression or what have you. Whereas a man failing is just a man failing -- and that's human, not symbolic.

A man fails, rather than a Color.

Also interesting: They begin groping for lessons learned and good things about the Obama presidency, good take aways, things they can look back upon fondly. The way you take stock after a failed relationship.

What I'm trying to say is that both men seem to anticipate an Obama loss, and both men, further, seem to think if there's not a spate of sudden good news, Obama pretty much deserves to lose.

I sort of started this thinking Glen Loury was of course the Black Liberal counterpoint but I'm not sure there's all that much distance between them.

Anyway, fairly interesting, especially about the last question, the -- for lack of a better word -- normalization of blackness, the routinization of coloredness, such that the failure and defeat of the Great Black Hope is... well, something that just happens, just as anyone might fail. Not something pregnant with heavy symbolism or Lessons About America -- just something that happens. Something human, and not something particularly freighted with Meaning just because the human who failed was darker skinned than some.

Which is what it should be, after all -- a time (perhaps to come shortly) where it's neither remarkable that a black man should be elected president nor confounding and hateful that he should fail at re-election.

Actually: Just clicking over to the site reveals a breakdown of the discussion, to the second. The first, fifth and sixth are the best bits (especially the fifth and the sixth), and the fourth is an admission of liberal bias, which is always satisfying, but not exactly something that's going to rock worlds.

The second part is just standard-issue "the Internet has removed our inhibitions and permits unexamined and unmodulated thoughts to become viral" stuff, the stuff you've heard six thousand times from everyone on the planet. The third part is a friendly (read: boring) discussion over narrow semantic distinctions between "nothing to do with race" vs. "not really having to do with race but being shaped by race," and is a waste of time unless you really love semantic discussions where even the guy you're against is only marginally against you.

Swiped from Hot Air's quotes of the Day.

digg this
posted by Ace at 01:04 AM

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