Saturday, May 25, 2024

The Hair of the Dog…

December 11, 2008 by  
Filed under News, Weekly Columns

( The proposition seemed fairly clear and logical: If transformation into a post racial society is to be real and substantive it must necessarily be about more than race and race pride; it must be about ideas.

And if that is the case then opposition to one that shares a common ethnicity but differs in philosophy is not blasphemous.

If, however, the letters I received following my recent column that argued this proposition are any indication, I have sorely missed the boat.

If in fact that is the case it won’t be the first time and I imagine it certainly won’t be the last.

The more reasoned arguments I received (meaning those that actually attempted to make a case and didn’t just call me ugly names) went something like this: while Obama’s policies on taxes and health care etc. are not unimportant, they are not nearly as significant as the death blow his election represents to those that claim “America is all about racism.” The fact that even uneducated whites voted for Obama makes it difficult to continue to draw road maps to the racist, evil heart of America.

More importantly, there is now a Black role model in the oval office. Young people will no longer see the thug life as “hip.” Instead, they will embrace their inner nerds because the leader of the free world now looks just like them. And he is a family man!

These benefits trump policy disagreements and ought not to be dismissed. In other words, to get over our racially obsessed hangover, it is necessary to take a bit of the “hair of the dog” as it were.

I remain unconvinced. It simply defies logic that in order to get past race, one must first take it into account.

To ignore any candidate’s ideas is to relegate their election to the purely symbolic. Symbols are not without their importance, but will the mere presence of a Black man in the White House “get us over the hump?” One can only suppose that the failure of Condoleezza Rice, Rod Paige, Colin Powell, Clarence Thomas and a host of other powerful Black members in our federal government’s failure to influence similar rewards is due to their – what? – lack of Black authenticity? Other ethnic groups do not seem to need public role models in order to flourish. What is the larger comment on Black culture when the growing list of academics, doctors, lawyers and Indian chiefs in our community are unable to alter the entrenched attitudes of anti-intellectualism, and gangster worship? Apparently for black youth only a role model with his finger on the button will do.

What I found particularly interesting was the claim of silencing the victimologists while presenting arguments that largely address cultural attitudes. The grand pooh bas of race, however, largely dismiss the cultural argument. They believe that the problems lie in a racist system that cheats black people from birth. For them, the issue is the white racist power structure of which any Black president is merely a pawn — a tool — at the very least an aberration. These professional racists will not go down without a fight. Witness the recent reports detailing the statistical disparities between Blacks and Whites and the bizarre claims that an increase in gun purchases since the election is driven by racism. Before the election night champagne had turned flat, the hard left was reminding us that in spite of Obama’s election America is still racist from the ground up.

There is real promise of substantive movement towards a post racial America and I, for one, am all for it. Movements, however, begin with ideas and any true transformation of American culture will likewise be grounded in philosophy – in the way we think about the ideas that are at the foundation of our Republic. There is simply no other way to make this transition. We will find the going a lot easier when we finally decide that there are some things more important than the color of a man’s skin.

Written By Joseph C. Phillips

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