Sunday, November 30, 2008

Acknowledging racism is not racism 

Noel Sheppard reports that a senior executive at NBC News has said that Barack Obama will, as "the leader of the biggest democracy in the world," have more "legitimacy in the street around the world" than any American leader, ever, because he is a "person of color." Sheppard thinks that it is racist of the executive, Mark Whitaker, to say this:

Imagine that. Because Obama is black, before he even steps into the White House and accomplishes one darned thing he already has more legitimacy around the world than possibly every American president that came before him.

Isn't that racist? Isn't suggesting that someone is better or more "legitimate" solely because of the color of his or her skin a tremendously offensive concept?

Sheppard is, I think, unfair to Whitaker. The quoted passage might as easily be an assessment of what is -- that most of the world is racist and will therefore ascribe greater legitimacy to Barack Obama because of his race -- as what ought. Nothing in the quoted passage suggests that it is good that the world is this way. Acknowledging racism is not racism.

Of course, Sheppard might well have criticized Whitaker for a subtly different point, which is his implication that the United States might in this case benefit from the racism of the world. Most of the time, the politically correct view is that the benefits of racism are themselves contaminated, fruits of the poisonous tree.

There are exceptions. There are innocent beneficiaries of racism whom we do not begrudge. Usually these are people who have already been the victim of racism, or are descended from people who have been. Certain forms of affirmative action are, in fact, "positive racism," and while many people may object to the policy, few believe that its beneficiaries commit a moral offense by accepting its benefits.

There is another exception, and that is that it is always acceptable to use racism against the racist. If Barack Obama is more effective at advancing American interests at the expense of our enemies -- all of whom are more racist by virtually any measure than the contemporary United States -- because he is popular with the downtrodden masses of the world, then we should delight in that advantage and exploit it to the utmost.

Of course, Whitaker did commit another gaffe, and a quite astonishing one at that given the dominant news story this week: The United States is not "the biggest democracy in the world." This is NBC's Washington Bureau Chief, the man in charge of the "Nightly News," the "Today" show, MSNBC, and "Meet the Press"? That explains a great deal.

CWCID: Glenn Reynolds.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Nov 30, 09:22:00 PM:

Another thoughtful and useful set of comments.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Nov 30, 10:07:00 PM:

Suppose he had said, "McCain [will] have more legitimacy in the street around the world than any American leader because he is white."

I think we can hear the howls about racism if those words were spoken. Yet there are many places that have streets in which racism runs in this direction.

I don't think there is enough of the context of the quote to make a determination of what was intended. But if the speaker meant that we should elect non-whites as a category because it will assuage the racists who prefer "color," then it is a racist statement. It would be promoting a social practice based not on the individual's abilities and character, but on melanin and the desire to please racists.

If he was just observing that many people are prejudiced in favor of persons of color, it would have been a good idea to make that clear.  

By Blogger Georg Felis, at Mon Dec 01, 12:01:00 AM:

There is an unspoken word in there which needs to be spoken. Corrected: "Because Obama is a black Liberal"

The Sec of State is the representative of the United States around the world, a face that has been for the last eight years, black. But this is not enough for the Press to pass on any respect, because they have also been Republican (Powell maybe less than Rice, but still...)

If we had President Rice today, there is not a chance that these same idiot reporters (yes, that's redundant) would have even a shred of the same fawning respect that they lavish on The One. And Sec State Hillary will be given a free ride for the next six months or so until the phrase “cleaning up after the Bush administration” becomes flat and tasteless, after which she may not be as useful to the Obama administration as she thinks.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Dec 01, 12:31:00 AM:

Last time I checked, he was half-white with a little Jew in him as well. Yawn, zionists.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Dec 01, 02:30:00 AM:

I'm still stumped by the whole "first black president" statement that is thrown around. He's HALF black...if that much. All the caucasians could cheer just as much and say, yea, another white president. How much "black" do you need to be considered the first black anything? All of that aside, Obama is the most anti-American president we have ever elected. All the persons of color who claim to have suffered oppression at the hands of "the man" in a supposedly democratic and just country have a shock coming. Just how do they think Obama will change things for the better for them personally? Give them all a million dollars apiece or something? This is going to be interesting to watch as it plays out. America, brace yourselves. If you thought Bush was bad, get ready for a wild ride.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Dec 01, 02:38:00 AM:

Anonymous, you obviously are forgetting the "one drop" rule. Oddly enough, it works both ways - some are arguing that Obama "isn't really" black because of his white blood. If that's the case, hardly any Black whose family has been in the US since the 19th century or earlier is black either.

But none of this is really relevant. The biggest democracy in the world is India, which has never had a "white" president. Fine time for us to realize that we've never had as much legitimacy as India has had since 1947 (not knocking India, I love that country, but how did this question of legitimacy arise?).

So Obama has more legitimacy than Washington, or Lincoln, or either Roosevelt did? More legitimacy than any other freely elected POTUS has ever had? How stupid one must be to work in journalism?  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Mon Dec 01, 06:47:00 AM:

Not to quibble with your history, Steve, but neither Washington nor Lincoln had much legitimacy abroad. The former was a revolutionary and the head of a new government that was not obviously going to be successful. The latter was embroiled in a Civil War, and major powers might well have jumped in on the other side if a few things had gone differently. But those are quibbles. Here's the interesting question: Does Barack Obama have more "legitimacy" abroad than Richard Nixon did? That depends on what you think legitimacy is. Query whether it is the same thing as "authenticity among the masses," which seems to be what many on the liberal left believe it equates to.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Mon Dec 01, 08:41:00 AM:

What with India being in the news recently, how he could say America was the biggest democracy in the world is unfathomable.  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Mon Dec 01, 08:57:00 AM:

"Anonymous, you obviously are forgetting the "one drop" rule."

An absurd left-over from the bad old days. I can't understand why people still grace this idiocy with the title, 'Rule.'

Think about it. If one of my grandparents was black, this rule would make *me* black. I may tan well, but I have straight brown hair, green eyes, was raised by white parents in a mostly white neighborhood and graduated from a mostly white high school. I write 'white' on government paperwork. The only sub-culture foods I ate growing up were German (family) and Cajun. (geography) I speak with a slight rural Texas accent. I married a white girl, and I fill out my kids' paperwork (who have blue eyes) as being 'white.'

But I'm black.

That's completely retarded.  

By Blogger Unknown, at Tue Dec 02, 06:59:00 PM:

Sadly, I think that a lot of the voters sided with him and the leftist illuminati because Obama is "black" rather than because of anything he is or is going to DO. I don't understand why he doesn't have the amount of pride about being mixed-race (which he actually is) as he does for being black.  

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