As of now, I am in control here, in the White House

Tag Archives: race relations

Republicans and Black People

Republicans are wrong to ignore black voters in the way that they do. I don’t think it’s a hopeless cause for them, and even modest inroads into the black community could tip elections the GOP’s way.

Sure, African Americans have been resistant to changing their allegiance. The task for the GOP seems impossible. But I’m not really aware of much of an attempt by Republicans – particularly presidential candidates – to go into black neighborhoods with a consistent message explaining why conservative principles work for African Americans and others who have a disproportionate number of low-income earners in their ranks.

This smart and entertaining video by Alphonzo Rachel of PJ Media suggests a place Republicans can start: Simply by asking, “How has voting Democratic worked out for ya?”

Obama Once Questioned Whether Nonviolence “Makes Sense”

In a speech given just a over a decade ago, President Obama said Martin Luther King’s philosophy of nonviolence “only makes sense” if the rich have sufficient empathy for the poor and the “powerless” are able to see a chance to become like those he says are running society.

Speaking on Martin Luther King Day in 2002 at a church in Chicago, then-State Senator Obama charged there was an “empathy deficit” in America resulting in a failure of the rich to correct society’s inequities.

Obama lists several problems – including bad schools, impoverished seniors, and the “prison-industrial complex” – which he says could be ameliorated if the wealthy could only see themselves in the disadvantaged.

“It’s hard to imagine that the powerful in our society would tolerate the burgeoning prison industrial complex if they imagined that the black men and the Latino men that are being imprisoned were something like their son,” Obama said.

The future president, who speaks today at the Lincoln Memorial to mark the 50th anniversary of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, then suggested that a lack of empathy undermines the notion that those without power should remain nonviolent in their quest for a share of the pie:

The philosophy of non-violence only makes sense if the powerful can be made to recognize themselves in the powerless. It only makes sense if the powerless can be made to recognize themselves in the powerful.

You know, the principle of empathy gives broader meaning, by the way, to Dr. King’s philosophy of non-violence. I don’t  know if you’ve noticed, but rich people are all for non-violence. Why wouldn’t they be? They’ve got what they want. They want to make sure nobody’s going to take their stuff!

The well off, Obama suggests, are in fact practicing their own form of violence against the poor through a kind of economic oppression.

But the principle of empathy recognizes that there are more subtle forms of violence to which we are answerable. The spirit of empathy condemns not only the use of firehoses and attack dogs to keep people down but also accountants and tax loopholes to keep people down.

I’m not saying that what Enron executives did to their employees is the moral equivalent of what Bull Connor did to black folks but, I tell you what, the employees of Enron feel violated. When a company town  sees some distant executives made some decisions despite the wage concessions, despite the tax breaks, and they see their entire economy collapses, they feel violence.

Here’s the video of this portion of the remarks:

While demanding a change in attitudes from those at the top of the latter, Obama also goes on to call for the “powerless” to try to improve their own lot, saying, “No one is exempt from finding common ground” and “We must all step up to the plate.”

H/T to Eliana Johnson of National Review and Patterico’s Pontifications.

Obama to Speak at Lincoln Memorial on MLK Speech Anniversary

President Obama will deliver remarks at the Lincoln Memorial on the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech, the White House announced this afternoon.

I know we won’t be reliving the electrifying eloquence of King’s speech. But hopefully Obama will at least leave faux-civil rights heroes like Trayvon Martin out of it and say things that will actually promote unity, hope, and the advancement of African Americans rather than divide the country with words of blame and anger.

Obama: Race Relations “May Get Worse”

President Obama said that if economic prescriptions of the type he supports to increase economic growth and reduce “income inequality” are not adopted, then race relations in the United State may deteriorate further.

“If we don’t do anything, then growth will be slower than it should be. Unemployment will not go down as fast as it should. Income inequality will continue to rise,” Obama said in an interview published Sunday by the New York Times. “Racial tensions won’t get better; they may get worse, because people will feel as if they’ve got to compete with some other group to get scraps from a shrinking pot. If the economy is growing, everybody feels invested, ” he said.

Obama said Americans in recent decades have lost a sense of security, feeling that a chance at upward mobility is being denied them. He railed against the deficit hawks in the Republican Party, suggesting cuts were being made to quickly and without proper discretion, and that “vital investments” must be preserved.

The president in recent days has suggested he will back massive new spending outlays, including funding for vast programs like infrastructure projects and early childhood education.

Obama vowed to act unilaterally if Congress blocks him.

“I’m not just going to sit back if the only message from some of these folks is no on everything, and sit around and twiddle my thumbs for the next 1,200 days,” he said.

Obama Misses His Moment on Race

I got this note the other day from one of our readers, a woman who is named Dr. Love, in response to President Obama’s remarks on Trayvon Martin.

I am an average weight white girl who happens to wear a 34 – M cup bra and is covered with tattoo’s. And guess what Mr. President I get followed in stores too and believe me I know what it is like for people to get nervous when I get on the elevator with them. And just so the brothers don’t feel singled out, I too know what it’s like to have people lock their car doors at intersections when I’m waiting  to cross.

But I’ll raise you one, I know what it’s like to experience prejudice from your race but also my own race and every other race. And for anyone who wants to pull the race card on me, I married a Hispanic the 1st time and a Black man the 2nd.

The next time anyone feels like an outcast and that everyone is treating  you like a red-headed stepchild I strongly suggest you ride an L.A. bus and watch a paraplegic in a wheelchair get on holding up the bus when everyone’s in a rush.

I would rather be a handicapped homeless minority in the U.S. than a factory worker in China! Martin Luther King’s speech “I Have a Dream” was full of respect for the constitution, the authorities of the land, this country and God. His example is the only way his dream can manifest.

Now, why do I share this with you?

Because she makes the point that Obama’s remarks on Martin were self-pitying and divisive, and self-pity and division are not what race relations require today.

Instead of leading on race, Obama joined in with the same old grievance crowd led by Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, finding a racial issue and proof of racism where there is none.

Obama had a chance to bring people together by saying not every issue that involves a black and white person has to do with race. He had a chance to be a new kind of black leader, suggesting African Americans need to look within themselves and their own culture instead worrying about every slight from whites.

I have no doubt that there is still racism in this country. But it’s not what’s holding black people down. The sound of car doors locking is not what’s barring African Americans entry into the middle and upper classes.

The greatest tragedy in this nation’s cultural history is its persecution of African Americans. It’s greatest triumph is the progress it has made since the 1950s in diminishing racism.

This nation just elected for the second time an African American. He’s liberal, but conservatives in the 2012 primaries backed Herman Cain, a black businessman, with a passion they showed for no one else, until he was forced to leave the race.

The second greatest tragedy in the nation’s cultural history is the failure of African Americans since the 1960s to make enough economic progress and be integrated fully with whites.

I believe with all my heart that what continues to keep races apart is not lingering racism, but economic policies that foster dependency in the black community and abet the total meltdown of the black family. Race hucksters like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton perpetuate a way of thinking that seeks to blame whites for the problems African Americans have instead of fostering a climate of self reliance that is needed in the community

A few black leaders – Bill Cosby, for example – have bucked the trend and sought to administer the tough love that says, you must do this on your own. Sure, white oppression played a big role in creating the culture of dependency. But white altruism in the form of government handouts is not going to solve the problem.

Obama had a chance to say, really, who the Hell cares about Zimmerman when black teenagers in the inner cities are slaughtering each other?

He won’t abandon his government handout creed, but he could at least have avoided the self-absorbed victimization pose that passes for civil rights these days.

Black people have reason for resentment. History gave them that. But there are enough black leaders expressing such sentiments. And I never got anywhere in life lingering on resentment.

Obama could have been a civil rights leader of the 21st century, using his own success as an example of how to break the bonds of anger, accusation, and dependence that can hold people back. He could have said, ignore the sound of locks, because that’s not what’s closing doors. But he didn’t.

Instead, he goes with the Sharpton flow and celebrates Trayvon Martin as a modern civil rights hero, even though the evidence suggests Martin nearly beat a man to death in a savage attack far disproportionate to whatever provocation existed. If you want to know how pathetic the current civil rights movement is compared to the black heroes of the 1960s, well, there you go.

We shall overcome, we shall overcome,
We shall overcome someday;
Oh, deep in my heart, I do believe,
We shall overcome someday.

We’ll walk hand in hand, we’ll walk hand in hand,
We’ll walk hand in hand someday;
Oh, deep in my heart, I do believe,
We’ll walk hand in hand someday.

We are not afraid, we are not afraid,
We are not afraid today;
Oh, deep in my heart, I do believe,
We are not afraid today.

Black people shall overcome. But they shall need a new set of leaders who are honest enough to express to them why they haven’t. I had once thought that, whatever his politics, Barack Obama was one of these. No more.

Shirley Sherrod Declines Agriculture Job

Well, as I predicted, Shirley Sherrod ain’t going back to the Department of Agriculture. Instead, she wants to take some time off. Big mistake. About the time off, that is.

You remember Shirley, right? She’s the one who was fired as an Ag official after an edited version of some remarks she made appeared to show her as a rank racist. When the full remarks demonstrated she was in fact a thoughtful angel on racial matters, the administration immediately reversed itself and offered to make her White House Chief of Staff. Well, not exactly, but the courting has been pretty aggressive.

What’s never been revealed – or tracked down by the media – is whether anyone in the White House made the call to Agriculture – as suggested by the official who ordered her fired – and demanded that Sherrod be ousted.

But now, for Shirley Sherrod, opportunity knocks, and deservedly so. Some puny post in the Ag department will no longer suffice.

Instead, while she wants “some type of relationship with the department in the future,” she notes “we do need to work on the issues of discrimination and racism and in this country, and I certainly would like to play my role in trying to to help deal with them.”

Well, we do, though less so than in the past in a country that just elected a black president.

Shirley’s problem is that she needs not to rest but to immediately get herself on the Oprah circuit and make a splash that gets us so wet we can’t forget or ignore her.

She needs a literary agent for the book someone will ghostwrite for her, a media placement manager, a physical trainer, and regular salon appointments.

Instead, she wants to think about things. Think about things? How can you be a leader in the national dialogue if you want to sit around thinking about things?

Here she is yesterday with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who apparently offered to resign over the incident, after a 90 minute meeting in which he desperately tried and failed to get her back into the department. There she would have remained nice and quiet, allowing an administration PR-mess cleaning crew to sweep the whole matter under the rug.

Obama’s Shame and the Firing of Shirley Sherrod

Who is to blame for the fiasco in which a good woman was defamed and fired because of an maliciously edited video showing what appeared to be racist comments, but which was actually a story of racial redemption?

First of all, Andrew Breitbart, who presented the video, and the non-journalists who failed to question whether it was the whole story, including Fox’s Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity.

But these people are professional performance artists. They’re highly paid to rant and rave and be irresponsible. Unfortunately, in today’s media environment, people think they are journalists.

The real problems here are the NAACP, the White House, and other liberal organizations hoping to undermine the Tea Party and Sarah Palin by suggesting they are racist.

Every group has a few bad apples, and some tiny number of Tea Partiers are probably racist at the core. Some tiny number of any group is racist at the core. The vast majority are not. The Tea Party movement is not.

The NAACP, in a transparent effort to try to pump up the issue, earlier this month demanded that Tea Party leaders rebuke those in their organization who are racist.

It was an effort to play the race card against a movement that is a clear threat to Democratic rule. The race card has been viewed in this case as a potent weapon since the unsubstantiated charges by black House leaders who provocatively walked through a throng of Tea Partiers in Washington some weeks back and exclaimed they’d been jeered as if it was the Selma March all over again. No proof of this – other than their claims – has emerged.

The White House has stood by and allowed the smearing of a mass movement that they know could carry Obama right out of office. So when evidence surfaced this week that an administration official was guilty of reverse racism, the administration acted quickly, firing her without examining the evidence. They did so, I believe, because a ranting racist in the administration would ruin the storyline that the president’s opponents are a bunch of bigots.

Obama shows the Emancipation Proclamation to a group of African American guests at the White House this past January

President Obama, particularly as the first black president, has an obligation to object to race baiting. He has a duty to put in their place those who seek to foster racial tension in our society. In this case he has failed, miserably.

Let’s be clear about one thing: The Agriculture Department does not fire anyone based on racially tinged comments without running it by the White House first.

I’ve covered the White House for 13 years. Shirley Sherrod was not cashiered without at least the acquiescence of senior White House officials, and more likely, active pressure from them. This is what the Ag official who told her to resign said was happening, and I believe it.

According to POLITICO, Jim Messina, a top White House political hack, praised the quick firing of Sherrod at the Tuesday morning senior staff meeting.

The White House needs to investigate who in the West Wing knew about the decision to fire Sherrod and what they did about it.

White Hous Press Secretary Robert Gibbs will not say which of the president’s aides might have known what. He said that “not to my knowledge” were there any instructions from the White House to agriculture officials to fire Sherrod. “Not to my knowledge” is very different from “no.” Here’s something else Gibbs said:

Now, as you saw Secretary Vilsack’s statements from last evening, now that we have greater knowledge and a broader fact set, he is going to review all of those facts, and that’s what he’ll talk to Ms. Sherrod about today.

It looks, then, like the Agriculture Secretary is going to do the investigation. There will be an effort to keep this as far away from the White House as possible and let the Ag Department take the fall. That’s what’s called a coverup.

Of course, the big problem for the White House may be the possibility that the one who knew and perhaps even ordered the firing is the one who is in charge.