Column for 16 March, 2008
“For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’”
The long, grinding battle between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama for the Democratic Nomination is not about race or gender. Really. Oh, sure, that’s not what you see or hear in the mainstream media, but that’s mostly because white America talking about race is like adolescent boys talking about sex; a lot of giggling and pointing but not much substance. And yes, lots of people would dearly love for this to be about black versus white or man versus woman. Take Geraldine Ferraro. Please. Her inane statement that Obama only got where he is today because he’s a black man is just about as stupid as they come. If being a black man is the key to political success, why is he the only one in the United States Senate? Why is there exactly one black man serving as a governor today (and only then because an extremely stupid white man couldn’t keep his hands off high-priced hookers)? If not for a multi-million dollar television ad campaign, how easy do you think it would be for Barack Obama to hail a taxi after dark in any major American city? How long could he jog through any gated suburban community before the police stopped him to inquire as to his business? Barack Obama got where he is by being smart, talented and tenacious, not through any sort of political quota system. By the same token, Hillary Clinton certainly gains no benefit from being a woman in a political system that is still overwhelmingly dominated by men. If Hillary Clinton were Harold Clinton, would major cable news channels and national magazines run breathless articles on what he was wearing and whether or not it showed too much skin? Would pundits be discussing whether or not he was sincere when he showed emotion? Would the fact that he was strong and outspoken naturally lead to a whisper campaign that he was gay? While it is true that Senator Clinton has benefited from her power marriage to President Clinton, it is condescending tripe to suggest that she would be nothing without him. Had she never dated a law student from Arkansas and instead remained in Illinois, she could very likely have ended up in Obama’s senate seat. The very fact that Geraldine Ferraro could make such a moronic statement, or that it would touch off such a storm of insipid press “coverage” is yet more indication of the basic fundamental problem with discussing race in America: to the extent white America will discuss race at all, it insists on defining all the terms of the debate. Listening to talk radio today, I heard one caller insist that the fact that 91% of black voters in the Mississippi Primary voted for Obama was proof that “blacks are racist, too.” Excuse me? If that’s true, does the fact that 76% of white Mississippians preferred Clinton mean they are racist? Of course not. And if Barack Obama the black man was Barry O’Bama the white Irishman, would the fact that he got 91% of the Catholic vote mean that all Catholics hate Protestants? Of course not. How do we square that with the fact that Bill Clinton had such strong support among blacks that he was famously referred to as the first African-American president? Surely it couldn’t be that black voters liked Bill but don’t like Hillary? Yet the same white Americans who insist that any organization of non-whites that they feel excluded from (La Raza Unida, the American Indian Movement, black student unions in colleges) are proof of anti-white “reverse racism,” see nothing wrong with Polish-American, Italian-American, Jewish or similarly-formed associations. Why? Because those groupings are almost exclusively white. In the immortal words of Groucho Marx, I refuse to belong to any club that would have me as a member. Likewise, two-hundred years of white male affirmative action in the form of laws that systematically excluded women and people of color are one thing, but thirty years of lukewarm efforts on behalf of non-white males evidently spells the end of civilization as we know it. White pathology about race has gotten so toxic that a privileged young white woman, Margaret Seltzer, felt compelled to pretend that she was a Native American (no doubt her great-great-grandmother was a Cherokee princess) raised by a black family in South Central Los Angeles in a completely fictionalized account of gang life. Were there any oppressed groups she forgot to claim membership in? Perhaps she was also a quadriplegic lesbian? Having helped themselves to land, culture, religion, language and even appearance, must white America now also claim “victimization” itself as some kind of prize? How twisted do you have to be to want to even pretend to be a victim? Is there some visceral thrill in believing you are “oppressed”? Evidently so, since the least oppressed segments in our modern society (white men, rich people, and evangelical Christians) are the ones who most loudly bellow that they are “under attack” on a regular basis. So, to all you white liberals, and those non-white Obama supporters who act as though Hillary Clinton is George Wallace, please do not project your racial fetishes onto this campaign. Either you think Barack Obama would be a good president or you don’t. If you don’t like him, don’t vote for him. It doesn’t make you a racist. Either you think Hillary Clinton would be a good president or you don’t. If you don’t like her, don’t vote for her. It doesn’t make you a sexist. However, if you vote for John McCain, it does make you a masochist.