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Obama and the Politics of Race

Is the race card the only one he can still play?

By 4.15.14

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So “Racism” once more stalks among us! The Obama administration and its congressional minions are in full-court press style on the topic.

The country’s president and chief magistrate asserted the other day at a political rally put on by, of all racial demagogues, Al Sharpton that poor people and black people find it harder than ever to vote. Along came Atty. Gen. Eric Holder with his own tale of racial woe. A Republican-dominated House committee had roughed him up, he thought. “What attorney general,” he asked the same political gathering, “has ever had to deal with that kind of treatment? What president has ever had to deal with that kind of treatment?”

New York Democratic Congressman Steve Israel, the party’s point man for congressional elections, took a similar line: “The Republican base does have elements that are animated by racism.” In chimed Nancy Pelosi: Race had “something to do” with Republican resistance to immigration reform.

The positioning of Race at the heart of every political controversy is a Democratic specialty which wasn’t — here is the oddity about it all — supposed to endure into the second Obama term, or at least not in the virulent form of 100 years ago. Biracial Barack Obama presented himself in 2008 as the presidential candidate who would show us the way to national unity: no red America, no blue America, just America; all for one and one for all.

Candidates tend to talk that way in election seasons, especially candidates eager, like Obama, to attract attention in spite of inexperience and lack of conventional qualifications. He made an impression not only on the Democrats who were going to vote for him anyway but on whites who, as the biracial author Shelby Steele noted, were seeking propitiation for past racial injustices.

Whatever intentions Obama may genuinely have harbored regarding the prospect of racial reconciliation, he switched relatively quickly to the tried and true tactic of race baiting. Not the baiting of blacks; no one (such is our good fortune) does that anymore; rather, the baiting of unidentified, because unidentifiable, white people who want to keep power out of black hands.

The only race war going on around here in 2014 is the one that Democrats wage for the immemorial purpose of gaining and holding on to power. With Obama low in the polls and Democratic control of the Senate threatened, the party sinks to the occasion. Make sure black voters remember to show up in big numbers next November — such is the plan.

“Racism” in 21st century America, with its biracial president, its multitude of government programs meant to nurture and raise up non-whites, its affirmative action programs at universities and corporations, racism endures largely as a plug-in political concept. It doesn’t refer to the process and practice of tribal identification. It means, “Watch out, bad guys coming.” Likewise “sexism,” though that’s not today’s topic. Outside the realm of power politics you rarely hear such pejoratives.

That’s because politicians alone — virtually all of them liberal; at least I haven’t heard of any conservative co-conspirators — act as though everything in the wide world is centered on race or class or sex. In the world of modern liberalism, you can’t be an individual. First you have to register at the Group Classification Office and listen to a sermon about why despicable people despise you and what to do about it — namely, beat them at the polls.

Speaking of the polls: Obama, in full-flush of race-mongering, depicts the right to vote as somehow endangered without his feeling obliged to explain how or why. “Ah,” we’re all supposed to exclaim, “he means Voter ID and such like” — measures meant not to narrow the right to vote but rather to make all play by the same rules.

Far be it from our president to address such concerns — if he really has them — outside a political rally. His record embodies a great irony; to wit, racial demagoguery flourishes anew, just when, after all these years, it was supposed to end.

COPYRIGHT 2014 CREATORS.COM

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About the Author

William Murchison is a Dallas-based columnist for Creators Syndicate. His latest book is The Cost of Liberty: The Life of John Dickinson.