By Tom Kando
Jan. 19, 2009: Today is Martin Luther King Day. Last night, we just saw the incredibly uplifting concert held at the Lincoln Monument in celebration of Obama’s upcoming Presidency.
So today there are many comments in the media about race. For example a couple of articles in the Sacramento Bee. (1) One is by my colleague Tim Fong, Professor of Ethnic Studies at Cal State, and (2) another one is by columnist Dan Walters. These two articles highlight (1) a frequent mistake and (2) a correct observation about race at this time:
(1) Fong re-iterates the oft-heard truth that while Obama’s election is a great step forward, we are still not out of the woods, as far as race relations are concerned. He then proceeds to point out that a majority of white Americans voted for McCain, not for Obama.
This oft heard statement is problematic. The obvious implication is that most whites are still racists. But by this measure, blacks appear to be more fixated on race than whites, since a far higher percentage of blacks voted the race line, i.e. for Obama.
Fong also reminds us of continued racial economic inequality. Whites are better off than blacks. Another indication of lingering racism. Yes. But Japanese and Chinese Americans make even more than whites. This is inconvenient for the facile and simplistic dichotomy which places whites one the side of privilege and all others on the side of victimization.
(2) Dan Walters, on the other hand, reminds us that it was indeed the great influx of minority voters which helped California pass the anti-gay Proposition. Sorry folks, if Obama had not motivated an extra 600,000 blacks and Hispanics to go to the polls in November, Prop 8 would have been defeated.
But you see, here again, the liberals stick to their knee-jerk binary thinking: There are only two groups: (A) Good people, i.e. minorities, gays, women, etc. And bad people, i.e. whites, especially white heterosexual men. So the fact that African-Americans and Hispanics were more anti-gay than the rest of the electorate creates great cognitive dissonance in liberals. Anyone who even states this fact - as Dan Walters bravely does - is called a racist. There was even a research project (San Francisco and New York University) which attempted to show that if you control for church attendance, then minorities dit not favor Prop. 8 disproportionately. Do you see how self-serving this is? It merely adds one more category to the liberals’ list of bad people - namely church-goers!
The post-racial era is what we are all eagerly anticipating, and Obama’s election is a huge step in that direction. What is required, however, is a de-emphasis on race, not a continued emphasis upon it. And in that regard, I am afraid that liberals are as guilty as conservatives.
Now don’t misunderstand me: I would be very insensitive if I were to deny African-Americans the well-deserved and long-overdue celebration of the first black President. Ethnic (and Gender and other demographic) identification is legitimate. Heck, I have been joking to my wife about how proud I am that Peter Orszag (a fellow-Hungarian) is going to be Obama’s director of OMB. It is eminently appropriate right now for African-Americans to be festive and to celebrate the election of the first African-American President.
But then, we need to move on: I voted for Obama not because of his ethnicity, but because he seems to be magnificently qualified for the Presidency at this time of great trouble.
One of the things I love about him the most is that he is, indeed, post-racial. He is a universal man. He transcends race and nationality. Notice for example a very subtle passage in his January 18 speech, when talking about Martin Luther King: he quoted the great man’s famous statement that men should be judged “on the content of their character.” But he left out “... and not on the color of their skin.” This is pretty revealing. There are many criteria that should not be used to judge each other - gender, sexual preference, national origin, family origin, etc. Race is one of theme.
We do not want traditional racism to be replaced by the inverted fixation which, as I just documented, seeps through some liberals’ editorializing. As we clearly saw during yesterday’s celebration in Washington, the greatness of the Obama transition is that it is inclusive rather than exclusive. It is truly post-racial.
leave comment here
Monday, January 19, 2009
By Tom Kando