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10/21/2009
BUCHANAN AND HIS ‘WHITE MAN’S LAMENT’

Is Pat Buchanan a racist? Is Rush Limbaugh?

Am I? Are you?

I discovered after writing my Rush Limbaugh post that there is no set definition for identifying a racist - at least one not fraught with politics, and informed by partisan rancor. “It’s obvious” is not an argument either way. Nor is there much agreement on whether one can be a racist subconsciously. This “all white people are racists and don’t even know it” idea was very popular a couple of decades back. But I don’t think anyone save committed racialists think that way anymore.

But does that mean that there is not a nurtured outlook of white superiority in our society that makes some of us oblivious to our own bigotry?

In the end, it all comes down to perception, and whether one has a decidedly deterministic worldview. How one experiences race in America has an awful lot to do with how low or how high we set the bar that defines for us whether one is a race hater or not.

Attorney General Eric Holder remarked early in Obama’s term that America was “a nation of cowards” because we wouldn’t talk candidly about race. I think he is right we don’t talk candidly about race but he is wrong when he says the reason is cowardice. How can there be a discussion on race when there is no agreement on what actually constitutes racism? Oh, there are “speech codes” and “hate crime legislation” that deal with the most obvious, outward manifestations of racism that help define, in the broadest possible terms, racists.

In fact, I would argue that speech codes and hate crime definitions further muddy the waters with regard to defining racism. In my estimation, such remedies lower the bar on what defines a racist, mixing legitimate free speech issues with racial issues. If one defines racism according to racial sensitivity, simply stepping on someone’s toes verbally can be construed as “hate.” That defeats the purpose of the First Amendment, and I believe is the reason many conservatives reject the idea of speech codes altogether.

(Hate crime legislation is an entirely different matter and goes to “intent” - a tricky legal definition that I wish would be used judiciously but the potential for abuse, and inconsistent application is too great to justify its passage.)

So are all racially insensitive people racists? Does the use of stereotypes automatically make one a racist? If you reject the NAACP position on affirmative action, are you a racist?

Most mindless partisans eschew the questions and simply go for the jugular. But for those interested in exploring these questions, we have an excellent exhibit in the form of an Op-Ed by paleoconservative Pat Buchanan that, on the surface, appears to be something of a “white man’s lament” at the loss of “traditional” America:

In their lifetimes, they have seen their Christian faith purged from schools their taxes paid for, and mocked in movies and on TV. They have seen their factories shuttered in the thousands and their jobs outsourced in the millions to Mexico and China. They have seen trillions of tax dollars go for Great Society programs, but have seen no Great Society, only rising crime, illegitimacy, drug use and dropout rates.

They watch on cable TV as illegal aliens walk into their country, are rewarded with free educations and health care and take jobs at lower pay than American families can live on – then carry Mexican flags in American cities and demand U.S. citizenship.

They see Wall Street banks bailed out as they sweat their next paycheck, then read that bank profits are soaring, and the big bonuses for the brilliant bankers are back. Neither they nor their kids ever benefited from affirmative action, unlike Barack and Michelle Obama.

They see a government in Washington that cannot balance its books, win our wars or protect our borders. The government shovels out trillions to Fortune 500 corporations and banks to rescue the country from a crisis created by the government and Fortune 500 corporations and banks.

America was once their country. They sense they are losing it. And they are right.

Buchanan is not the first conservative to incorporate these concepts in their critique of the Obama administration. But Buchanan scores the trifecta of hyperbole by collating race, class, and fear of “The Other” in his lament.

And he proves himself once again to have the historical sense of a marmoset about America. What is America ever been about but change? I’ve said it many times, and it is born out by even a cursory understanding of the thrust of American history; this is a nation on the move, has been on the move, and will always be on the move as long as we are free.

We stand still for nothing, for nobody - no institution, no philosophy, no group, industry, or movement. To be static in America means that you are already on your way out. We reinvent ourselves at the drop of a hat, with impossible speed. What takes European democracies decades, we do in one or two election cycles. It is frightening. It is marvelous. It is the defining characteristic of this country and it is one of those things that makes us exceptional.

I know what Buchanan is trying to say - he’s not saying it well and he is mixing a witches brew of politics and racial identity in with his critique. What he refers to as “traditional America” is defined by his enemies as white America. But if we are to postulate that Buchanan’s “traditional Americans” are upset because we have an African American president and preferences for minorities, doesn’t that make “traditional Americans” themselves racist by definition?

Beware, a trap Mr. Serwer:

I’d love to just leave this post with snark, but I have to say one last thing. Black Americans have shed blood in every American war since the Revolution. This country, even the very Capitol building in which today’s legislators now demand to see the birth certificate of the first black president, was built on the sweat and sinew of slaves. Before we were people in the eyes of the law, before we had the right to vote, before we had a black president, we were here, helping make this country as it is today. We are as American as it gets. And frankly, the time of people who think otherwise is passing. If that’s the country Buchanan wants to hold onto, well, he’s right, he is losing it.

Did Mr. Serwer not just define “traditional” Americans?” I believe he did. Race, or gender, or sexual orientation has nothing to do with whether one is a “traditional American.” Some may believe that Buchanan is limiting himself to the white race, but his critique echoes in those communities where “traditional American” is broadly defined as anyone who respects and reveres the first principles upon this nation was founded; among them - self reliance, a respect for individual rights, and the investment of the nation’s sovereignty in the Constitution. One doesn’t need to be a conservative to believe in the traditional American values Buchanan believes are disappearing. And it is insulting, as Mr. Serwer points out, to limit the idea of traditional American to one race.

The question then becomes not whether Buchanan is a racist but whether he’s right. As usual, Buchanan overstates the case but hits upon something that critics ignore at their peril.

It is the pace of change that has people of many races, many backgrounds worried. If it were only tea partiers and loudmouths at town hall meetings, the sense of unease that runs the length and breadth of the land would not be so obvious - obvious enough to be reflected in poll numbers and soon, at the ballot box. It is difficult to argue that the pace of change doesn’t matter or that traditional Americans are not worried that the many changes being proposed by the president cannot be shoehorned into their vision of what America is supposed to be all about.

You can argue that African Americans as a group are less critical, or that the Hispanic community may not be as worried about the pace of change as white Americans. But to dismiss this phenomenon as a white only construct is naive. To do so identifies the critic as someone too enamored in viewing the nation’s problems through the prism of race and racism.

This plays to the idea that many whites are subconsciously racist - that when they lament the passing of an America with which they are familiar, what they are really saying is, “I don’t like that black man as president:”

I agree with the substance of Adam’s case against Pat Buchanan; the vision that Buchanan is putting forth of America is both racist and ahistorical, and is genuinely dismissive of the contributions of every non-white American (not to mention women, immigrants, and so forth). At the same time, I think that there’s more going on; Buchanan has always been more willing than most conservative pundits to make forthright, and in some sense honest, defenses of unpalatable elements of the right wing worldview. I recall at some point in the 1990s that Buchanan was asked why the United States was willing to sacrifice treasure for Bosnia and not Rwanda, and he gave the straightforward answer that Rwandans weren’t white enough.

In this case, I think that Buchanan is invoking a genuine sense of loss of entitlement on the part of a substantial portion of white America. This isn’t to defend or justify the white privilege that created this entitlement entailed, or to justify Pat Buchanan’s nostalgia for it. Nevertheless, I think that Buchanan is pointing to something that’s very real, or at least as real as any sociological fact. White America, as the construct exists in the mind of many Americans, is disappearing, even by some objective criteria; it’s retreating deeper into exurban communities, and it’s very, very slowly ceding political and financial power. Moreover, the idea of America is changing; Buchanan has a very definite vision of what America is, and is smart enough to understand that his vision is losing traction. In this context, it’s hardly surprising that the response is a combination of rage and raw panic. That the ideological structure that supports White America is racist and has a disturbing narrative of American history is academically relevant, but it’s also not the central point. Those who hold Buchanan’s vision (and many do, although often not in terms as explicit as Pat is willing to put forth) really do find themselves under siege, and pointing out that these beliefs are both crazy and immoral has very limited effect.

Spoken like a true determinist. Positing the notion that white Americans obsess about race, or their “entitlement” makes sense if you believe the rush to create a different kind of America doesn’t involve a radical movement away from what all races, all creeds who believe in “traditional America” see as fundamentally important to their identity. How do those black and Hispanic veterans who shed blood in our wars view the president’s foreign policy? Or do the black and Hispanic communities march in lockstep with the idea of national health insurance? Bail outs for big banks and corporations? A larger federal role in educating their children? A radical restructuring of our energy policy?

A determinist can ascribe all of this to white racism because looking at the country through the warped vision of racial conflict, everything becomes explainable as “loss” defined as privilege or status. People don’t think that way, have never thought that way, will not act in that fashion as evidenced by the fact that Communism is, for all intents and purposes, dead. This phenomenon resists a deterministic explanation. We must look to history for answers.

It has never been that white America, or traditionalists of any kind have been resistant to all change, everywhere, all the time. There have been pockets of resistance throughout our history to change (some larger than others, as was the case in southern resistance to integration). The social history of America is replete with examples of a “brake” being placed on change that turned out to be both necessary and good.

But unless you are willing to argue that “traditionalists” wish to see Jim Crow reestablished or women denied the right to vote, you must accept the fact that rapid change, while causing some dislocation, is nevertheless accepted by tradtionalists eventually. This does not mean that southern whites were correct in resisting integration, or men were spot on in their opposition to a woman’s right to vote. But in a nation that can alter its political landscape every four years, some anchors must be recognized if change that is proposed is to be folded into our national consciousness and become part of our national character.

Looking at the long view of history, I find it absolutely astonishing that in my youth, a black man couldn’t get a sandwich at a southern coffee shop and yet, I live in a time where an African American received more white votes for president than his party’s predecessor.

Is it the position of critics that this miracle was accomplished without the traditionalists? I beg to differ. I believe it was the traditionalist’s eventual acceptance of racial integration - begrudging though it might have been - that made the election of Barack Obama possible. And the fact that we have gone from Jim Crow to an African American president in less than one human lifetime only points more strongly to the idea of American exceptionalism and the idea that rapid change, when governed by applying first principles - in this case, equality for all - will eventually be accepted even by those who oppose the change in the first place.

Mr. Serwer rejects the findings of the Democracy Corps focus groups that race plays a small part in opposition to the president because it doesn’t feed his thesis that Buchanan (and Limbaugh) are explicitly lamenting a “loss” to white America as the result of the election of a black man.

I don’t doubt that there is an element of racism - clear, nauseating, and shocking - that is a significant part of Obama hate. But limiting one’s critique to a purely racial explanation belies the fact that traditionalists (sometimes incoherently) are more concerned about the president severing connections to the past than any non-acceptance that a black man can be president, or that the very fact that a black man sits in the White House gives them cause to lament their being marginalized in this “new” America.

I am not accusing Mr. Serwer of deliberately misinterpreting Buchanan’s critique. But rejecting out of hand empirical evidence that your own critique is off base smacks of partisanship, not rigorous analysis.

President Obama ran on a platform of change. He is giving his supporters exactly what they voted for. But from recent poll numbers, it is clear that even many of those who voted for Mr. Obama are feeling uneasy about what he is doing, that he is moving too quickly in some areas, without giving proper respect to the principles that America was founded upon or the “traditions” if you will that binds this nation as one. Whether they are white, black, brown, or purple matters not. And those who seek to muddy the waters by making opposition to the president’s idea of change a question of race hate are missing the boat.

By: Rick Moran at 10:38 am
44 Responses to “BUCHANAN AND HIS ‘WHITE MAN’S LAMENT’”
  1. 1
    EJ Said:
    11:44 am 

    Perhaps a definition of racism per se is not necessary; one harkens back to the story of the (Supreme Court?) judge who spoke of a “definition” for pornography in that he could not define it precisely, but knew it when he saw it.

  2. 2
    michael reynolds Said:
    12:14 pm 

    I have a definition of racist: a guy who pretends black people contributed nothing to the creation of our country. Simply “disappears” them from his fantasy history of America. And treats as “others” people whose ancestors were here for 200 plus years before Mr. Buchanan’s white ancestors showed up on the boat from Dublin.

    News flash for Buchanan: the first blacks arrived in the early 17th century. The Italians, the Irish, most of the Scots and the Germans, (and my people) all showed much later. The average family time line for a black family in America is certainly longer than that for the average white family.

    And yet, somehow, in Buchanan’s mind, this country is all about white folks, most of whom were Johnny-come-latelys to a country already built and settled in large part by black people.

    You just spent 2000 words or so to avoid calling Buchanan a racist. But he is a racist. And you wonder why the GOP gets zero percent of the black vote? Tortured, jesuitical efforts to try and rebrand what everyone with any sense and a shred of honesty knows is plain, bald-faced racism don’t help.

    Yes: Buchanan is a racist. Yes: He’s a Republican. Like most racists in this country have been since the sixties when the GOP decided to pander to racists for electoral profit.

    That doesn’t mean all the panic is racism, but the fact that all white panic is not racism does not change the fact that Buchanan is a racist, and that Limbaugh and Beck and the other deep-thinkers of the GOP are race-baiters. You guys have got to stop pretending a tumor s a mole.

  3. 3
    Foobarista Said:
    12:26 pm 

    Buchanan may or may not be a racist - and he probably is - but are his statements above racist? The quotes in Rick’s article would only be interpreted as racist if you assume a whole bunch of context that isn’t present in the text.

    I could easily see a black, Asian, or Hispanic American writing the “traditionalist” quote, and have heard similar sentiments from people of all races, especially from Chinese and Koreans in my neighborhood.

  4. 4
    shaun Said:
    1:28 pm 

    Rick:

    Stop giving marmosets a bad name by comparing them to Buchanan.

    Seriously, the issue has/should move beyond what constitutes a racist, a race baiter and so on and so forth.

    Buchanan is nobody’s fool but his own and while he still manages to draw a paycheck from MSNBC,he pees on his wingtips so often that he should have drowned long ago.

    All that noted, I have a problem with your post. You never make your point and do a fair amount of waters muddying yourself. Unless your point is that you have none.

  5. 5
    Richard bottoms Said:
    2:05 pm 

    I think the problem is you are afraid that to accept Limbaugh, Beck, and Buchanan are racists means defining yourself as one too.

    What I see written most often is, Rick stop being a racist. It’s, Rick stop excusing these particular racists as rabble rousers, or provocateurs. The GOP is a party that built its strength on the Southern Strategy crafted by the man in question and that strategy consisted of offer white racists fleeing the Democratic party a home. All we are doing is pointing out the damage done to the home and pointing out who is currently residing in the home with you.

    What possible reason other than racism can explain this:

    More than half of Republicans either say President Obama doesn’t love America or say they aren’t sure of his feelings toward the country he leads.

    That’s according to a new national poll due out tomorrow from Public Policy Polling. The firm gave TPMDC an early look this afternoon.

    PPP polled 766 registered voters nationwide. Of the GOP respondents, 27% agreed that Obama “loves America,” 48% disagreed and 25% said they weren’t sure.

  6. 6
    Richard bottoms Said:
    2:07 pm 

    Oops

    What I see written most often is, Rick stop being a racist.

    What I rarely see written is, Rick stop being a racist. It’s, Rick stop excusing these particular racists as rabble rousers, or provocateurs.

  7. 7
    Richard bottoms Said:
    2:08 pm 

    Dammit

    What I see written most often is, Rick stop being a racist.

    What I rarely see written is, Rick stop being a racist. It’s, Rick stop excusing these particular racists as rabble rousers, or provocateurs.

  8. 8
    busboy33 Said:
    2:10 pm 

    @foobaristia:

    “The quotes in Rick’s article would only be interpreted as racist if you assume a whole bunch of context that isn’t present in the text.”

    Selective quoting will do that. Buchanan makes pretty clear in the body of the article Rick linked to that “traditional” America and “white” America are, for him, interchangeable. Here are the two paragraphs immediately preceeding Rick’s quotation:

    “Moreover, the alienation and radicalization of white America began long before Obama arrived. He acknowledged as much when he explained Middle Pennsylvanians to puzzled progressives in that closed-door meeting in San Francisco.

    Referring to the white working-class voters in the industrial towns decimated by job losses, Obama said: ‘They get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.’”

    When the part Rick quoted starts up, all we see is “they” referring to the subject under discussion. These two paragraphs make it pretty clear that “they” isn’t just Conservative, but white conservative. Whites (they) are losing their country, which means that it was their (whites) country “before”.

    And that’s a hell of a lot less ambiguous.

  9. 9
    Gayle Miller Said:
    2:56 pm 

    I was raised by a Southern father and an urban Northern mother - both of them made it clear to me that a person’s color was irrelevant. It was thus very irritating to me when the late MLK brought the differences in color to my attention. I was much happier not noticing and accepting people as they presented themselves to me. Mind you, I am 67 years old so my upbringing took place in a gentler (perhaps) kinder time.

    It seems to me that calling someone a racist is far too easy to do and far too difficult to disprove! Our nation’s normal construct is “innocent until proven guilty” but that doesn’t apply in the case of racism accusations. Ergo - to my mind - calling someone a racist without actual PROOF is a pretty doggone un-American thing to do.

  10. 10
    KenGirard Said:
    3:32 pm 

    “take jobs at lower pay than American families can live on – then carry Mexican flags in American cities and demand U.S. citizenship.”

    Does it change any that not that long ago it would have said:
    “take jobs at lower pay than American families can live on – then carry Irish/Italian/Dutch flags in American cities and demand U.S. citizenship.”?

    I have a co-worker whose desk is a shrine to his Irish heritage, and he can’t stand ‘foreigners’ coming to this country and taking jobs from hard working Americans…

  11. 11
    Foobarista Said:
    3:45 pm 

    Busboy33, ok - I didn’t bother clicking through.

    For my part, I’ve never paid much attention to Buchanan because he’s more of a European-style blood&soil right-winger like Le Pen, with little appeal to “libertarians of the right” like me. I’m not sure how much of a following he has nowadays, but he’s always good for a couple of juicy zingers from time to time.

    That said, I wish someone else had written “the quote”, because it still “works” very well without racialist context, and the “racist” discussion is a distraction from what ol’ Chairman Mao would call the class warfare element. One thing I’ll agree with Marxists is that classes do matter, and have a cultural and political component as well as an economic one. In regards to the quote, many non-whites as well as whites are quite upset at what feels like a victory of the “New Class” elites - of both parties - against the blue collar world and Main Street USA.

    Main Street USA may be full of Chinese restaurants, Korean groceries, Vietnamese nail shops, and Mexican taquerias, but it’s still has traditional “Main Street” bourgeois values of the sort that academic and bureaucratic elites disdain. These values include wanting to live a better material life, not being interested in Grand Social Experiments, and generally being left alone to raise their families as they prefer, not as some bureaucrat decrees.

  12. 12
    busboy33 Said:
    4:52 pm 

    @KenGirard:

    “I have a co-worker whose desk is a shrine to his Irish heritage, and he can’t stand ‘foreigners’ coming to this country and taking jobs from hard working Americans…”

    That’s totally different. He’s talking about THEM, and as anybody knows, THEM and US have different rules. US is okay. Hell, I like US. THEM? Fu@k THEM.

    **as it may be difficult to absorb in text form, please read the above with sarcasam filters set to “maximum”**

  13. 13
    Richard bottoms Said:
    5:51 pm 

    What bugs us the most is having to not only justify even being angry in the first place, despite full citizenship occurring not even an eye blink in historical context.

    No other ethnic group’s pride is seen as an indictment of others. The slightest bit of detectable anger is seen as an insane overreaction.

    Conservatives seem to have internalized their late to the game conversion to the true tenets of MLK’s philosophy as something they have always had making any criticism as unfair as hell.

    Their champion William F. Buckley wrote openly about Negro inferiority, opposed integration, Brown vs. Board of Education and came out in National Review in favor of the stand of White Citizens Councils, a stance they maintained well into the late sixties. The reason why blacks despise them and the GOP is a mystery to them.

    To them Rush isn’t just provoking and insulting black leaders (poverty pimps as he calls them), he’s evening the scales in a wildly out of control reversal of fortune.

    Despite there being no blacks elected to national office under their banner, they see the GOP as the bastion of equality. People we see as obvious lunatics like Alan Keyes are bold men of courage willing to call a spade a spade.

    At least some of them are starting to ask the question in a year that’s not divisible by four since they only seem to even care when it’s the presidential election year.

    Their strategy up to now has not been to present a real message to the black community, it’s to work like hell to throw us off voting rolls and make finding polling place as difficult as possible. To ensure the longest lines and least reliable equipment are in districts heavily populated by African-Americans. Rather than give us a reason to vote for them they work to keep us from voting at all.

    Demographics and the economy has finally caught up to them and the reality of the GOP being a regional party of mostly white men in the South is catching up to them. There’s maybe one more election cycle to go before the whole machine goes tilt.

  14. 14
    still liberal Said:
    6:44 pm 

    A re-read of Oakshott’s “On Being Conservative” was useful after reading this excellent article. Rick, if you have not already done so, it would be very useful to have your list of the most influential conservative readings/books. I was not exposed to much conservative thought in college (everyone is shocked, I am sure), but stumbled onto Hayek, Buckley, Burke and some others. Your ideas on important conservative readings would be much appreciated.

  15. 15
    Gary Said:
    9:06 pm 

    Let me answer your question with a question. You ask are Rush Limbaugh and Pat Buchanan racist???

    Is the Pope German”???

  16. 16
    Doug Said:
    10:20 pm 

    I think race is a “real” issue for maybe 15% of the population, meaning race will be a factor in them deciding whether to buy, befriend or vote for a person. For the rest of us, I believe race is recognized then quickly falls away when we get to know that particular human being. Where is Pat Buchanan? All I know is that he’s softened over the years and doesn’t seem racist when he debates African American pundits on MSNBC.

    If there are extreme racist attitudes in our country, I believe they would most likely be rooted in the upper 1% of wealth and are closely tied to their dislike of the under-classes. From this vantage point, I want to tell you where your critique is wrong.

    In your last paragraph you state, “But from recent poll numbers, it is clear that even many of those who voted for Mr. Obama are feeling uneasy about what he is doing, that he is moving too quickly in some areas, without giving proper respect to the principles that America was founded upon or the “traditions” if you will that binds this nation as one.” In my opinion, the reason many have turned from full support to a more guarded position with Obama is that he isn’t moving quickly enough on the promised changes.

    Americans have watched our infrastructure crumble, our environment savaged, the middle class ripped apart, manufacturing off-shored, education de-funded, etc., etc., while the ultra-rich laugh as we fight over the crumbs that fall from their mouths. What Americans voted for was an end to the free ride for the proponents of laissez-faire, market driven ideology. The people want to be paid for their hard labor, no matter what their race may be, and they want fat cats to be held accountable for the mess they’ve created..

  17. 17
    funny man Said:
    10:40 pm 

    I think some of you are simplifying a little bit when it comes to this issue. I would agree with some of what Eric Holder was saying in that I found (in my limited experience) most white Americans to be very fearful or unwilling to honestly talk about their own prejudices. I used to live in Detroit (city) and just hate it when some liberal suburbanite talks about how to best reform inner city schools when they have absolutely no clue what they are talking about (and would never send their kids there; neither would I). That is also to counter the perception that this behavior is somewhat tied to any party.
    Black Americans are often quite blunt about their feelings which I as a German don’t really have a problem with. So I don’t mind when Buchanan at least speaks his mind. At least not the PC crap. However, I also see that many conservatives fall into some sort of hysteria seeing reverse racism, white man’s guilt or what have you everywhere. Happily pointing to obvious liberal hypocrisy. Rarely do any, liberal or conservative, ever speak about themselves. I mean, who isn’t prejudiced? I am. I’m married to a black woman but when there is a black man with a white woman there is a little guy in my head that says ‘this is not right’. Does that make sense? No, but emotions are not always rational. I just wanted to give a little example that some of these perceptions linger in peoples heads. Hm, well maybe it’s just because I’m German and Americans don’t have these thoughts…

  18. 18
    Doug King Said:
    12:34 am 

    Some of my ancestors came to these shores more than 350 years ago, but I am no more American than the latest naturalized citizen. What defines Americans is not our DNA but our beliefs about equality of citizens and government deriving its power from the consent of the people. Those very beliefs lead us to disagree and debate each other.

    Yes, many conservatives tend to have an overly idealistic view of America’s past, just as liberals tend to have an overly idealistic view of government’s potential to improve society. In both cases, the beauty of the myth often cloaks ugly realities. It’s good we have each other to help keep things in proper perspective.

    Racism exists and to some extent affects everyone. I think it comes from our basic, tribal nature but can remain dormant if we believe in the equality of man and strive to practice what we preach.

    But let’s not confuse racism with nationalism or regard for the rule of law. I’ve lived in Vancouver, BC. Its a diverse society and I love the people there. But if I sneaked across the border, took jobs away from Canadians, and started waving the American flag and demanding benefits, I would guarantee the response would be hostile (and rightly so). And racism would have nothing to do with it.

    And let’s not confuse racism with objections over government confiscation of money and property. Increasing taxes on the middle class makes it more difficult to pay bills and pursue their own happiness. The vast majority of white people are not millionaires and do not have deep pockets. My income is well below Obama’s promised no-tax threshold of $250K. But does the fact that I worry about hidden taxes on health insurance and other government fees make me a racist? Does my belief in capitalism and free markets make me a racist? Do my objections to welfare programs that promote generation-after-generation of poverty make me a racist?

    I see racism like the Swine Flu. Yes, it exists, and yes it’s nasty. But it’s not our #1 health problem. But if we act like its our #1 priority, other more serious problems (failing families, failing schools, failing corporations, etc.) will not be addressed.

  19. 19
    Foobarista Said:
    12:41 am 

    OK, let’s have a “conversation on race”. I’ll define “race” to mean “whites and blacks”, since Holder wasn’t talking about Taiwanese-Tamil relations, although that’s probably about as relevant in my “racial microclimate”.

    In Silicon Valley, the number of blacks in tech startups is vanishingly small. I’ve spent 20 years launching startups or working in them, and I’ve never seen a black engineer who wasn’t from Nigeria. There’ve been a few black admins, but that’s it. Similarly at universities: if you go to an academic conference in the database field such as SIGMOD or VLDB, you simply won’t see any non-African blacks.

    For that matter, you won’t see a heck of a lot of American-born whites either, although there will be some. You’ll see tons of Chinese, Indians, and Europeans, and a number of Africans.

    It’s hard to argue that SV is a bastion of white privilege or WASPy old-boy networks: after all, many, if not most, tech startups are launched by Indians and Chinese.

    In the Valley, most American blacks I encounter work for government or big companies. I meet very few in small companies or starting their own.

    The impression I get - or maybe it’s “prejudice” - is that American blacks prefer large organizations with lots of structure and formalism over small, dynamic organizations where rules are less well-defined or being “made up as we go along”.

    This would mean that blacks will make a decent living in the Valley, but won’t get into the executive or venture-capital elites, since you only get to that level by startup success.

  20. 20
    Richard bottoms Said:
    12:53 am 

    Does my belief in capitalism and free markets make me a racist?

    The so-called conservative belief in capitalism as it has been practiced the last 25 years or more represent a gigantic blind spot.

    No matter that millions are without basic access to health care or that their wages have shown little growth or have even regressed, all that matters is that business be allowed to charge whatever they can get away with and damn any other consideration.

    All taxes are considered theft and any regulation of business intolerable oppression.

    The portion of the population that will approach the $250,000 a year barrier is just a few percent of the population, yet Republicans have even the poorest trailer park denizen convinced that only the GOP can save their offspring from the “death tax”.

    The insurnace industry rejects coverage for any reason at all which charging staggering premiums for those can manage to qualify and the biggest fear for the teabaggers is that the “gubment” will be more of a hinderence to achieving a healthy life than Aetna. The horror stories of rejections and rescissions ought to make anyone with a conscience ill, but that doesn’t see to be a working area of the conservative brain.

    I don’t give a damn about whether you are a racist or not. I care about whether E. Coli taints my vegetables and which ways banks have found to gouge me for fees.

    I don’t have much faith the Democrats will make those problems go away, but I sure tell you I have zero confidence the GOP gives a rat’s behind about it. If it means business will make one penny less by ensuring my safety or health then the GOP is against it. Period.

  21. 21
    Richard bottoms Said:
    1:06 am 

    The impression I get - or maybe it’s “prejudice” - is that American blacks prefer large organizations with lots of structure and formalism over small, dynamic organizations where rules are less well-defined or being “made up as we go along”.

    Then you haven’t met me. Software is the one industry where it comes down to skill and dollars, period.

    The reason the market is full of Chinese and Indians is a willingness to work for less and access to off-shore support systems.

    Americans are no less capable of writing code, it’s that we expect to be paid a living wage.

    The reason you don’t see many blacks is we just gained access to the system, really gained access in the last 20-30 years.

    It doesn’t take one generation to build engineers. It takes your father and his father and uncles and cousins going to college providing a leg up, references, inherent knowledge and risk capital that only comes from savings and equity.

    Most cloud based ventures and social applications have very little in the way of start up needs as far as cash goes. What you really need is an uncle who works at Sun who can get you face time with an angle investor when the critical moment comes.

    We are just now making those connections and it will be several decades before it becomes routine for blacks to do what whites have been able to do for years.

    If my home is barely worth what I owe on it and I live in a red lined neighborhood where am I going to get money for a risky venture? If my paycheck just covers living, how do I take a year off to pursue a dream?

    You think we’re any less willing to try for the gold? Bulls***t.

    Call me in twenty years when we have a dozen Oprahs, and ten or twenty former congressmen and Senators, heads of major corporations able to provide that vital introduction you obviously take for granted.

    It’s not about intelligence or race.

    It’s about class and cash.

  22. 22
    Foobarista Said:
    3:00 am 

    As far as I can tell, many blacks would rather work at the DMV or be cops and have slow but steady promotions and defined-benefit pensions. Nothing wrong with that, but that won’t get you anywhere other than into politics if you’re ambitious.

    I often wonder if this preference for rule-heavy, public organizations is out of a desire to avoid racism. And maybe I’m seeing something that’s completely bogus, but 20 years of observations aren’t lightly set aside.

    The black Vinod Khosla, David Lam, or Suhas Patil won’t be a cop or bureaucrat - and he won’t be an entertainer. He’ll have to be a techie, probably with a PhD in a hard science from a top university, who grinds it out for awhile at a place like Oracle or IBM, quits, hits a startup home run or two, and goes into venture capital or angel investing with the sort of highly tuned BS detector that only years in tech develop.

    For my part, I’ve seen more failure than success - like most SV startup lifers - and have worked “for free” several times. And I’ll say that it’s awful seeing a company you’ve spent endless 20 hour days implode - and you often fail for reasons that have little to do with intelligence or even capital. Often, it’s more in the luck, the timing (you’re too early or too late), getting the business model wrong, underestimating how expensive or slow it is to sell your product, etc.

    I can see why people who are afraid of _anything_ extraneous, like latent racism adding to the chances of failure, would not like this life. A Chinese friend told me once that when he encounters a non-Chinese jerk on the street, he wonders if the guy is “just” a jerk or a racist. He said that racists are somehow worse.

  23. 23
    Richard bottoms Said:
    6:33 am 

    As far as I can tell, many blacks would rather work at the DMV or be cops and have slow but steady promotions and defined-benefit pensions.

    Jesus H. Frakking Christ, do they send Republicans to some kind of class to teach them to be insulting.

    For roughly 100 years after slavery our options were severely limited in what jobs and what physical locations we could occupy as a people. So naturally since the laws changed our entire social structure should change over night?

    If no one in your family has ever been to college how likely is it you will go to college? If an entire race was encouraged to mop floors and shovel sh*t for 100 years, there’s some work to be done to elevate them into a better class.

    You picked safe jobs because you could get them and because the white man didn’t harass you of maybe even kill you for rising above your station. My sister had the highest scores of anyone in her school district back in 1967, do you think she was steered towards Harvard or Yale and showered with help from administrators to become an Ivy League grad. F*** no she wasn’t.

    This country changed, but it was fast enough and it wasn’t soon enough to serve the needs of someone as bright as she was. She made something of herself but it sure wasn’t with help from any of the whites in our part of the world.

    There I go, being angry again.

  24. 24
    michael reynolds Said:
    8:30 am 

    Richard:

    You need to understand the white Republican point of view. See, culture and tradition and history are very, very important to white people. But those same people can’t understand why blacks would be defined by their culture and history.

    The essential point for many white conservatives is that blacks not make whites feel bad. They only want to feel good. They want their history nicely whitewashed (heh) and with no disturbing details involving genocide of Indians, or the systematic enslavement, brutalization, rape and murder of blacks.

    Their history is so important to them that it must be clean and perfect and exemplary.

    Your history is so unimportant that you should simply forget all about it and move on.

    This lovely arrangement they define as fairness, and any alternative point of view is “reverse racism.”

    When you cut through the crap what they want from you is a big, toothy grin, a tugged forelock, and maybe a little dance.

  25. 25
    Chantal Said:
    10:50 am 

    Richardbottoms said: My sister had the highest scores of anyone in her school district back in 1967, do you think she was steered towards Harvard or Yale and showered with help from administrators to become an Ivy League grad. F*** no she wasn’t.
    Lest we forget: the real reason she wouldn’t have got into Harvard and Yale (which did not “admit” women until 1973 and 1969 respectively!!!)was because of SEXISM which is still going strong today. The African-American males whining on this site should remember that women - that great “Mino-majority group” - to this day still make only 77 cents (and African American women earn only 69 cents and Latinas just 59 cents) for every dollar that men earn for equal work. Not to mention that they can still be called “hos, cunts and bitches” in print and in public without anyone batting an eyelid while even a HINT of the word “nigger” is now regarded as heresy.
    But hey, let me not interrupt this pity party!

  26. 26
    Foobarista Said:
    11:34 am 

    So, RM, we agree: there are historic reasons why many blacks choose safe careers.

    And Reynolds is a Certified Nice Guy for introducing his pet theories and prejudices about a blog commenter about whom he knows nothing.

    Later…

  27. 27
    Richard bottoms Said:
    11:57 am 

    Lest we forget: the real reason she wouldn’t have got into Harvard and Yale (which did not “admit” women until 1973 and 1969 respectively!!!)was because of SEXISM which is still going strong today.

    And the party of Teri Schiavo, anti-contraceptives, anti-abortion, anti-Violence Against Women Act are the ones who will champion fixing those problems?

    They thought so much about women that they ran Sarah Palin over dozens of truly qualified women in 2008 and the party has made a cottage industry of attacking Hillary Clinton.

    The Democrats actually care about equal pay. We’re the party that introduces actual legislation to attack pay discrimination, gender inequity and inequality in the workplace.

    It wasn’t the GOP that supported Title IX, it was the GOP that opposed the ERA.

  28. 28
    Chantal Said:
    1:27 pm 

    Richardbottom said: The Democrats actually care about equal pay. We’re the party that introduces actual legislation to attack pay discrimination, gender inequity and inequality in the workplace.
    Fine, and guess how that has worked out in practice in this year of our Lord 2009? Still 77 cents to the dollar. Maybe Obama should make a speech with “soaring rhetoric” like those he made on racism, religion and homosexuality (which have really fixed those problems, haven’t they?) Oh wait, he just went on TV and talked about all the sacrifices Michelle made and is making raising their kids, while earning $316,962 a year in Chicago and now in the White House as FLOTUS. The single moms must have loved the irony!
    Maybe he doesn’t really want to make a speech and have people remind him that during the presidential campaign last year it turned out that…
    “The period from October 1 through March 31, Obama paid women on his Senate staff an average annual salary of $44,953.21, which was $12,472 less than the $57,425.00 average annual salary he paid men. Women outnumbered men on the staff 30 to 27….
    In percentage terms, McCain paid female staffers 101 percent of what he paid men. Women outnumbered men on McCain’s staff, 26 to 16…
    Thirteen of the 20 highest paid members of McCain’s Senate staff were women during the sixth-month reporting period. Eight of the 20 highest paid members of Obama’s Senate staff were women.”
    And as for disrespecting Clinton, how about Obama’s “campaign song”: “I’ve got 99 problems but a bitch aint one”? As he told BET: “I gotta admit - lately I’ve been listening to a lot of Jay-Z. This new American Gangster album is [good]. Kanye, I like. I enjoy some of the newer stuff. Honestly, I love the art of Hip-Hop. I don’t always love the message of Hip-Hop.” But as he told Ludacris later “I’m just messin’ with you man”.
    Want to swop places with a black woman for a while and get something to really whine about?

  29. 29
    funny man Said:
    1:35 pm 

    Richard,
    I agree with you that perceptions change slowly. I went to school in Germany which was essentially all white so it never occurred to me that certain fields couldn’t be for me because of my race. However, these perceptions are deeply ingrained in the United States. It goes both ways by the way e.g I have never seen a white American woman run the 100 m while our fastest German runners would make the US team. So do the American have a genetic defect once they crossed the ocean? That is also the reason why you would see more Nigerians or Ethiopians in science or engineering because they grew up in an all black society just like me in an all white and nobody told them not to go into certain fields. Just my two cents.

  30. 30
    Richard bottoms Said:
    2:02 pm 

    That is also the reason why you would see more Nigerians or Ethiopians in science or engineering because they grew up in an all black society just like me in an all white and nobody told them not to go into certain fields.

    I worked as a consultant off and on for several years in St. Croix and it wsa always culture shock to go from Silicon Valley where I was always the only black guy in the room to where almost everyone running the show was black.

    As a solider I spent over ten years in Germany and frankly didn’t want to come back to the US.

    At least there if I was denied admittance to a club or otherwise shown some measure of discrimination I understood I was an outsider, and it might be as much because I was an American as my color that was the reason. And it mainly didn’t bug me because I wasn’t a German citizen with an expectation that I should be treated just like everyone else.

    It never took long on a visit back home to find the eternal disrespect, fear, and loathing. I came home on leave after Basic Training in 1978, a proud solider in my best dress greens only to be denied entrance to the Stoplight Disco. By the time I left for AIT, I had every news outlet in the city on their a**.

    My father rode the Jim Crow car home from Washington, D.C. after getting his Lieutenant bars back in World War II. Despite the fact he was an Officer, ready to go to war to defend this nation he was treated with disrespect by the very people he was ready to go save.

    All I know was I wasn’t about to ever submit to the crap he took, and thanks to LBJ I have the vote as a weapon to make that change happen.

    The GOP has done nothing but earn out disgust and our loathing since the beginning of the Southern Strategy and nothing much at all has changed. I’ll listen to their lectures on equality and conservatism when they find a way to have more than zero blacks in the party in Congress.

    I’ll bet not a single one of you know who Earl Graves Jr. is and how much it says about the GOP that the man has not been put forward as a Senator or Congressman in the 40 years I know the man has been a Republican. The Democrat’s record speaks for itself, but in Hillary’s run and in Obama’s elevation to the highest office in the land.

  31. 31
    funny man Said:
    6:09 pm 

    Richard,
    In my mind there are two different things going on here. One is a philosophical debate about how to best make the American society more competitive and fair. There is no reason to believe that a smaller government model wouldn’t find sympathy with some black Americans. The other is the political decision by Nixon to use the Southern Strategy to turn a democratic stronghold (Dixiecrat admittedly) republican and that was putting politics before principles. So in my mind once politics enters the arena honesty regarding any race debate leaves because both sides play on voters fear for political gain. However, nothing is set in stone, I have seen the Berlin Wall tumbling down, a German guy landing on the Red Square in Moscow (do you remember in 87?) and yes, seen a black man elected as President of the United States. Given that, I think it is entirely possible significant number of black Americans will one day ‘rediscover’ the GOP.

  32. 32
    Richard bottoms Said:
    6:24 pm 

    I think it is entirely possible significant number of black Americans will one day ‘rediscover’ the GOP.

    “Good luck with that.”
    ~ Wolverine

    Anything is possible, nothing in the current trajectory of the GOP suggests it happening any time soon, any more than it is likely that gays will suddenly discover tax cuts trumps all.

    You can’t beat something with nothing. Surely in a country of 250 million people there’ some black man or woman who the GOP can make into a member of Congress. Commit the money, resources, and staff and make it happen.

    Earl Graves Jr. publisher of Black Enterprise has been a Republican as far back as I can remember. I’ve even heard his name so much as floated as a possibility. Ever.

    Bet you had no idea there’s a forty year old magazine dedicated to black entrepreneurial activity? I’ve been reading it since I was in high school, hope to someday be in it.

    I don’t anyone of the GOP beside Michael Steele has ever heard of it.

  33. 33
    sota Said:
    6:40 pm 

    With all the hyperbole and broad brushing of swaths of Americans, it’s really a shock that we can’t have a “courageous” conversation on race.

  34. 34
    funny man Said:
    8:21 pm 

    Richard,
    ok, I’m not talking about any time soon but let’s leave the partisan stuff aside for a minute. For example education has been a disaster for many inner city black kids and that is not entirely the fault of one party (I know Detroit, so that’s where I’ve got my opinion from). What is needed there is a bipartisan radical shake-up of the whole system. Someone like Michelle Rhee who believes in her mission and her kids in the DC school system. That’s something that all of us can rally behind and make discipline and excellence the goals again. Not people misusing kids for their political gain and yes there was white flight but there was also numerous incompetent people coming in on Coleman Young’s soultrain etc. However, for the sake of the kids this has to be over.

  35. 35
    Richard bottoms Said:
    10:02 pm 

    What is needed there is a bipartisan radical shake-up of the whole system.

    I agree.

    Hopefully when Obama is done with the health care debate and has made his choice on Afghanistan he can turn his attention to education. Both parties have failed inner city kids especially. The Democrats need to stand to to the unions and the Republicans need to forget about eliminating the Department of Education and public schools.

    I am confident that sometime within the next three years there will be a major shift as important as health insurnace for all is going to be.

  36. 36
    Doug King Said:
    10:27 pm 

    Richard:

    Sorry it takes me so long to respond, but I live on the West Coast and must wait until evenings to submit comments. If you see this, please consider responding to this question: How should America respond to growing competition from the global economy? If capitalism isn’t the answer, what is?

    Let me say that while I believe in free markets, I acknowledge unbridled capitalism is often brutally savage. Government has a legitimate role regulating markets to assure competition is fair and to intervene and prosecute when laws are broken. I am no more enamored of insurance companies or financial wizardry or short-term-profit-driven corporations than the next guy.

    But as hard as capitalism is, I know of no other economic system that gives consumers the best choices or gives corporations incentives to improve. I see Wall Street as treacherous but necessary. I think the business world should be like the NBA whose players attain (through cutthroat competition) phenomenal levels of basketball talent. Rewards should be based on merit alone as determined in a free, competitive market. Government’s job is to referee the players. But if the referees start scoring points themselves, whose going to referee the referees?

    I’m not happy that our factories have all but disappeared, but what can we do about it? The last three Presidents (including Clinton) promoted NAFTA. Why? Because their experts and advisers decided it was the best thing to do for America, despite protests from ordinary folks. Were all those government officials who pushed NAFTA dumb, unpatriotic crooks? I hardly think so. I think the truth is much harder to swallow — we are in a new economic age where the old rules don’t apply. This age was ushered in when the Cold War ended and the Berlin Wall fell.

    I’m not saying I like things as they are. I belong to a union and I’ve walked a picket line. I’ve worried about my job being outsourced as much as anyone. But I’ve concluded there is no such thing as job security anymore. We’ve got to stay competitive. Like you, I’m sure, I wish there was more emphasis on firing the bozos who run good companies to the ground. But I also recognize that unions are often part of the problem. And bailouts just reward bad behavior.

    If increased competitiveness isn’t the answer, what is?

  37. 37
    funny man Said:
    11:59 pm 

    Richard,
    I totally agree. Unfortunately, the unions stand in the way to any meaningful reform and for our nation to be competitive we need good public schools. I mean who is going to pay for all the vouchers?
    That’s why I agree with Michelle Rhee, a democrat by the way, who is doing a lot of things right. Mayor Fenti also belongs to the new type of black leaders who look for results not rhetoric. Had to laugh when Marion Barry wanted to be the advocate for the children of his district. Yeah, right. Interestingly, figures like Sharpton and Barry are quite popular among some conservatives when hardly anyone (I know) in the black community takes them serious anymore. However, in Detroit I learned not to listen to the crazies on both sides if you want to get anything done. Hope you are right about the education reform, we certainly need it.

  38. 38
    Richard bottoms Said:
    3:21 am 

    If increased competitiveness isn’t the answer, what is?

    Increased competitiveness and capitalism are part of the answer. A reflexive GOP response of tax cuts, tax cuts, tax cuts won’t do it.

    We could try building two or three fewer F-22 type planes (that are going to engage in dog fights with whom Al Queda?) and create a real system for retraining. Tell Exxon that they will have to struggle on without subsidies for exploration and direct that money to helping to bring about 4G & 5G networks everywhere.

    I’ve worried about my job being outsourced as much as anyone. But I’ve concluded there is no such thing as job security anymore.

    Want a more secure job? Make health insurance universal and comprehensive like in every other advance country on the planet so workers can pick and move anywhere there’s a job without worry about pre-existing conditions and things like wildly unfair denials of coverage for rape victims????

    Change the education system so that the scam that is the current vocational school patchwork ceases being a bad joke burdening the poorest among us with loans they can never repay for courses that well over 50% of students never finish.

    End payday lending.

    Lots to do, none of it having a thing to do with lightening the tax bill of the top 5% even more.

  39. 39
    Chantal Said:
    4:32 am 

    Richard bottoms said:
    Hopefully when Obama is done with the health care debate and has made his choice on Afghanistan he can turn his attention to education. Both parties have failed inner city kids especially. The Democrats need to stand to to the unions and the Republicans need to forget about eliminating the Department of Education and public schools.
    Why wait for Obama? Here are some FACTS:
    “The JHU Gazette reports that immigrant blacks (either American born of immigrants or those who have immigrated with their families) are performing exceptionally well in higher education, according to a study conducted by researchers at Syracuse and John Hopkins.
    Here are a few key conclusions:
    There is a higher percentage of immigrant blacks enrolled in elite colleges in America than either native whites or blacks; 9.2% compared with 2.4% percent of other black students and 7.3% white students.
    Immigrant blacks have the highest college attendance rate at 75% compared to 72.5% of whites 60.2 percent of native-born blacks.
    Immigrant blacks are 4 times more likely than whites to attend four-year colleges and 17 times more likely than whites to attend selective colleges–when social and economic resources are the same.” http://gazette.jhu.edu/2009/08/17/immigrant-blacks-more-likely-to-attend-elite-colleges/
    Please note the study said “either American born of immigrants (i.e. they were born in the US, not in black-majority countries) or those who have immigrated with their families”, many of whom presumably live in inner city communities.
    These people are getting on with their lives rather than waiting around to see what a political party can do for them or conforming to peer pressure to ruin their lives by not “acting white” - see “Minority Status, Oppositional Culture, & Schooling”, edited by John U. Ogbu - or obssessing about the fact that(newsflash!) there is still racism in this world.
    American blacks have had 40 years to take positive advantage of the affirmative action and other programs the Democrats created under the Great Society legislation. Most have squandered this opportunity. Except for black women, of course, even though they are still facing serious economic and social discrimination from all quarters. This is something that no political party has even addressed let alone done anything about, and nobody on this site is even remotely interested in.
    Common sense says that any group that consistently hands 95% of its vote to one party for decades without any sign of improvement in its lot is not very smart. Especially when that means blindly supporting the party of handouts and academics and ignoring the party of economic and entrepreneurial dominance in which they have every right to participate. There is a window of opportunity now for blacks to do just that instead of knee-jerk name-calling and blaming. But are they going to do it?
    As for Obama “turning his attention to education”, what can he do about it that hasn’t already been done? And if immigrant blacks have such success with the current system, that must mean that it is not the system that is at fault.
    Obama and his wife both took advantage of affirmative action - that’s how they got to the White House. They are living proof that American blacks who are serious about education can rise to the top. But that means they have to face the truth, i.e. stop ruining their lives with drugs and gutter music, stop abandoning their families and start being responsible parents and that means child support, PTA, homework, doing volunteer work in poor neighbourhoods.
    And oh yeah, stop fouling their own nests by demeaning and insulting their women (hos, cunts and bitches, remember?).

  40. 40
    Robert Said:
    7:32 pm 

    “The GOP has done nothing but earn out disgust and our loathing since the beginning of the Southern Strategy and nothing much at all has changed. I’ll listen to their lectures on equality and conservatism when they find a way to have more than zero blacks in the party in Congress.”

    What happens to blacks that enter the Republican Party Richard? What happens when they have to gather together with their families that vote 95% of the time for a Democrat? What names do they get called by the likes of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton? Perhaps things such as:

    “Get back on the porch boy”
    “Uncle Tom”

    “Oreo”
    “Race sellout”

    Blacks that join the Republican Party and embrace its ideals are demonized. When the Republican Party nominates blacks it they are characterized as Uncle Toms and the Republican Party is said to be promoting tolken blacks that white Republicans will actually control. The very basis on conservative ideology is race neutrality. The Republican Party should push every candidate that wants to run and who is qualified for the position regardless of race. Where does the Republican Party find such blacks when 95% of the population votes Democrat, believes in Democrat ideas on government and responsibilty and the remaining 5% is demonized? Can you understand the dilemma?

  41. 41
    Robert Said:
    7:50 pm 

    “Earl Graves Jr. publisher of Black Enterprise has been a Republican as far back as I can remember. I’ve even heard his name so much as floated as a possibility. Ever.”

    Does he want to run? Does it matter to him that he will be ripped to shreds by white liberals on TV as selling his soul for money and power and as a race traitor by messers Jackson, Sharpton and Farrakan? What are his policy positions? Would he appeal to a broad swath of the electorate on the basis of his ideas?

    These are questions that have to be asked because they make the difference between defeat and victory.

  42. 42
    funny man Said:
    10:04 pm 

    Robert, do you seriously believe anyone in the black community takes Sharpton or Jackson seriously. Is that your black friends? Sure ain’t mine.

  43. 43
    Doug King Said:
    10:02 am 

    Richard — thanks for answering my question. To a large extent I agree with you, except for universal health care (how’s it going to be payed for?). But I agree education needs to be overhauled, and not just K-12. Something needs to be done to reign in the costs of higher education as well.

    funnyman — thanks for you brilliant insights. I’m sensing that Sharpton and Jackson have more in common in Rush and Beck than I ever realized. We have self-appointed spokesmen claiming to speak for groups whose members, as a rule, do not take them very seriously — at least not all the time. But group outsiders think these spokemens speak for their communities. When they make inflammatory remarks, they get criticized by outsiders (sometimes in a way that offends the group), which leads to defensiveness and polarization. This is good business for the spokesmen but bad for individual members of the groups. Spokesmen have vested interest in division.

  44. 44
    funny man Said:
    5:49 pm 

    Chantal,
    blacks and white have a long history together. That is America. So while your points are well taken you make it seem a bit easy. Sure, it would be nice if people just realized their wrongs and fixed it. You know it just doesn’t work that way. BTW, I’m pretty sure me and my fellow German immigrants and our kids are on average doing better than white Americans too.

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