While I joined other supporters in the hopes that Barack Obama could engineer a campaign that transcended race, I still held onto the suspicion that ultimately his brown hue would become an issue amongst those in the media and general public.
We can all thank Bill Clinton for first interjecting race into the national debate with his unwarranted (and transparent) likening of Obama to Jesse Jackson, but the now infamous footage of Obama’s pastor, Jeremiah Wright, controversial sermons has given the pundits exactly what they wanted: a way to really put race at the forefront of the campaign.
Though Americans like to tell themselves that race is not the factor that it once was, when the opportunity to evade political correctness and share thoughts on racial issues presents itself, people typically seize upon it.
As the mainstream media continues to dance over the point that Reverend Wright’s comments on 9/11 actually stem from a white U.S. ambassador that shared similar views on Fox News, conservative pundits like Pat Buchanan are seizing the opening they have long salivated for.
In “A Brief for Whitey,” noted conservative politician, author, and commentator, Pat Buchanan published an angry rebuttal to Barack’s historic speech on race relations in America.
Where Obama’s speech dabbled in nuances, Buchanan takes the direct approach in his assessment of the country’s tainted past with the Black community with such a biased view of history that it perpetuates the very racial schism Obama’s speech provokes the country to evaporate.
Buchanan writes: “First, America has been the best country on earth for black folks. It was here that 600,000 black people, brought from Africa in slave ships, grew into a community of 40 million, were introduced to Christian salvation, and reached the greatest levels of freedom and prosperity blacks have ever known. Wright ought to go down on his knees and thank God he is an American.”
In essence: Be grateful to God (with his beautiful, piercing blue eyes) that we offered you a free boat ride to paradise, you Black savages. Show gratitude that we remixed some of your beliefs and fused them with our own religious doctrine so that we could save you from your wicked ways. We treated you as if you were beneath us for centuries, and look at yourselves: You now posses a fraction of our success. We did all this to motivate you. It was for your own good. Say you’re welcome.
He goes on to argue that, “no people anywhere has done more to lift up blacks than white Americans” – citing welfare, Section 8, Pell grants, student loans, Medicaid, soup, kitchens, daycare, and affirmative action as means of lending credence to the notion that white America has been the Black community’s best friend.
Funny, that’s not how Black people and fair-minded people of any racial and ethnic background see things, but I suppose I didn’t eat enough government cheese as a child to validate convenient theories for him.
If you’re wondering if white people, and in particular, white women have benefitted from such programs more so than Blacks historically, you’d be right – but Pat would probably tell you to shut up the same way he told author and fellow commentator Keli Goff weeks ago.
Buchanan represents the struggling working class white American. Well that’s at least the ruse he and people like Sean Hannity like to run on people as they build fortunes on promoting racial divides. Nevermind Pat’s own controversial views about Jews, women, and gays, or Sean Hannity’s reported past relationships with Neo-Nazi’s. It’s not about that. This is about the hateful Reverend Wright and how his perceived hatred gives them free reign to be more vocal about their own bigoted ideology – or “A Brief for Whitey” as Pat likes to call it.
It was bound to happen anyway, but Reverend Wright’s mirror-turning rant on America opened the door for not-so-closeted racists to let loose and share another vent against America’s greatest target (or if you adhere to Buchanan’s logic, America’s greatest dependant).
Project Pat continues: “Is white America really responsible for the fact that the crime and incarceration rates for African-Americans are seven times those of white America? Is it really white America’s fault that illegitimacy in the African-American community has hit 70 percent and the black dropout rate from high schools in some cities has reached 50 percent? Is that the fault of white America or, first and foremost, a failure of the black community itself?”
Are you looking at this in disbelief? Are you yelling at the screen about unfair prison sentences, schools being segregated now more than ever, and a major discrepancy in how school funds (what little left anyway) are allocated? You shouldn’t bother; it’s not going to change the minds of people like Pat anyway (nor Pastor Wright, for that matter).
It’s unfortunate that it’s come to this, but it was to be expected. The optimist in Barack Obama speaks to the promise of this country.
It is the idea that, we, as a country, can have a substantive conversation on race, and work towards making meaningful progress in absolving some of the long-standing racial strife in America. It remains to be seen if that dream will ever come to fruition, but if it is it’s clear that be it Reverend Wright or Pat Buchanan, a lot of people want to get things off their chests before we ever reach that point.