Race in America

What struck me about the controversy over Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s inflammatory anti-American and anti-White preaching is that in the television coverage I saw the African-American pastors and laity who were asked about it seemed to basically agree with him! He does articulate what lots of black people believe. So I’ll give credit to Barack Obama for his speech on racial relations. Here is the transcript. He talks about the anger felt by black people AND, in something I don’t ever remember hearing in this context, the anger of white people, which unlike most Democrats he does not simply reduce to racism:

For the men and women of Reverend Wright’s generation, the memories of humiliation and doubt and fear have not gone away; nor has the anger and the bitterness of those years. That anger may not get expressed in public, in front of white co- workers or white friends. But it does find voice in the barbershop or the beauty shop or around the kitchen table. At times, that anger is exploited by politicians to gin up votes along racial lines or to make up for a politician’s own failings. And occasionally it finds voice in the church on Sunday morning, in the pulpit and in the pews.

That anger is not always productive. Indeed, all too often it distracts attention from solving real problems. It keeps us from squarely facing our own complicity within the African-American community in our condition, it prevents the African-American community from forging the alliances it needs to bring about real change. But the anger is real, it is powerful, and to simply wish it away, to condemn it without understanding its roots only serves to widen the chasm of misunderstanding that exists between the races.

In fact, a similar anger exists within segments of the white community. Most working- and middle-class white Americans don’t feel that they have been particularly privileged by their race. Their experience is the immigrant experience. As far as they’re concerned, no one handed them anything, they built it from scratch. They’ve worked hard all their lives, many times only to see their jobs shipped overseas or their pensions dumped after a lifetime of labor. They are anxious about their futures, and they feel their dreams slipping away. And in an era of stagnant wages and global competition, opportunity comes to be seen as a zero sum game, in which your dreams come at my expense.

So when they are told to bus their children to a school across town, when they hear that an African American is getting an advantage in landing a good job or a spot in a good college because of an injustice that they themselves never committed, when they’re told that their fears about crime in urban neighborhoods are somehow prejudice, resentment builds over time.

Like the anger within the black community, these resentments aren’t always expressed in polite company. But they have helped shape the political landscape for at least a generation.

Can this anger gap be healed instead of being stirred up?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Joe

    Can it be healed? Of course it can but as long as the Rev. Wrights of the world (and their mirror images on the other side of the racial divide) continue to find it more beneficial to gin up anger and hatred nothing will happen.

    There needs to be new leadership on this issue. And the new leaders can’t simply say, “well you know ole Rev. Wright came up in a time when things were really bad so we have to accept his hateful rhetoric.” Instead, they have to say it is unacceptable and it is detrimental to the process and then exclude these folks from the process, marginalize them and become real leaders of the new era of racial healing.

    No one can be a part of the healing process if they are willing to accept Rev. Wright as a legitimate voice in the process. How could the sides ever trust each other? The man preaches from the pulpit that the gov’t invented HIV/AIDS to kill black people. How would it work, if the white side let David Duke have a voice in the reconciliation process?

  • Joe

    Can it be healed? Of course it can but as long as the Rev. Wrights of the world (and their mirror images on the other side of the racial divide) continue to find it more beneficial to gin up anger and hatred nothing will happen.

    There needs to be new leadership on this issue. And the new leaders can’t simply say, “well you know ole Rev. Wright came up in a time when things were really bad so we have to accept his hateful rhetoric.” Instead, they have to say it is unacceptable and it is detrimental to the process and then exclude these folks from the process, marginalize them and become real leaders of the new era of racial healing.

    No one can be a part of the healing process if they are willing to accept Rev. Wright as a legitimate voice in the process. How could the sides ever trust each other? The man preaches from the pulpit that the gov’t invented HIV/AIDS to kill black people. How would it work, if the white side let David Duke have a voice in the reconciliation process?

  • Bruce

    Forget Rev. Wright. He’s irrelevant. My question is: Is Obama giving voice to the very “new leadership” Joe refers to?

    I really, really don’t like this man’s political platform. I’m afraid he’d be overmatched on foreign policy and be led down the liberal primrose path–if he needs leading at all in that direction– if elected president.

    And yet, I can think of no other voice in America who is making so much sense on racial issues. If anyone is going to take the next step in: 1)Resolving the emotional issues of race that cloud clear judgement and 2)Get the black community to stop buying into a victim mentality and start buying into an American mentality, it is going to be A)an African American and B) A liberal.

    We’ve tried the African American/Conservative politician, but it seems to me that no one in the black community is paying attention. So…

  • Bruce

    Forget Rev. Wright. He’s irrelevant. My question is: Is Obama giving voice to the very “new leadership” Joe refers to?

    I really, really don’t like this man’s political platform. I’m afraid he’d be overmatched on foreign policy and be led down the liberal primrose path–if he needs leading at all in that direction– if elected president.

    And yet, I can think of no other voice in America who is making so much sense on racial issues. If anyone is going to take the next step in: 1)Resolving the emotional issues of race that cloud clear judgement and 2)Get the black community to stop buying into a victim mentality and start buying into an American mentality, it is going to be A)an African American and B) A liberal.

    We’ve tried the African American/Conservative politician, but it seems to me that no one in the black community is paying attention. So…

  • Rose

    As Dick Morris said,
    “Wright’s rantings are not reflective of Obama’s views on anything. Why did he stay in the church? Because he’s a black Chicago politician who comes from a mixed marriage and went to Columbia and Harvard. Suspected of not being black enough or sufficiently tied to the minority community, he needed the networking opportunities Wright afforded him in his church to get elected. If he had not risen to the top of Chicago black politics, we would never have heard of him. But obviously, he can’t say that. ”
    From http://thehill.com/dick-morris/pastor-wright-this-too-shall-pass-2008-03-18.html
    Talk about “Religious Affiliation and Culture”!
    Pat Buchanan says it’s not creditable that on arriving from Honolulu Obama would not know his pastor’s radical views. If so, he shouldn’t be given a job as a “security guard at Walmart” let along President. So it seems shuck and jive is at play here.
    Not to mention, as Fred Barnes did, that Obama “threw his grandmother under the bus.”

  • Rose

    As Dick Morris said,
    “Wright’s rantings are not reflective of Obama’s views on anything. Why did he stay in the church? Because he’s a black Chicago politician who comes from a mixed marriage and went to Columbia and Harvard. Suspected of not being black enough or sufficiently tied to the minority community, he needed the networking opportunities Wright afforded him in his church to get elected. If he had not risen to the top of Chicago black politics, we would never have heard of him. But obviously, he can’t say that. ”
    From http://thehill.com/dick-morris/pastor-wright-this-too-shall-pass-2008-03-18.html
    Talk about “Religious Affiliation and Culture”!
    Pat Buchanan says it’s not creditable that on arriving from Honolulu Obama would not know his pastor’s radical views. If so, he shouldn’t be given a job as a “security guard at Walmart” let along President. So it seems shuck and jive is at play here.
    Not to mention, as Fred Barnes did, that Obama “threw his grandmother under the bus.”

  • The Jones

    As someone who has recently finished over 6 credit hours of independent study on racial politics in America, I have to say “Bravo, Barak. I’ll still give a pound of flesh to make sure you won’t be president, but I’ll be quoting your speech for decades.” Rarely do politicians make people think about issues and weigh both sides. In this instance, I believe Obama did give credence to both sides of this political divide, and he did it with style. I’ll give credit where credit is due.

    Now, I do have some issues with how Barak seemingly couldn’t find a church of equal spiritual encouragement and growth that was void of anti-America anger and hatred. I have no reason to authoritatively claim that Barak Obama’s belief’s correlate to Rev. Wright’s. To say their association warrents the sharing of those views would be uncharitable. From what I’ve seen (and recently heard) that would seem not to be the case. I believe Barak going to that church is more a statement on his poor church-chosing skills, not a statement on his racial philosophy.

    However, on the flip-side: Did anyone notice an important point that was dealt with in the speech, which has rarely been brought up in any evangelical Christian political movement? Despite the fact that Rev. Wright is angry, bitter, and resentful, Obama said he was instrumental in bringing him to Christ. God uses people with faults to accomplish his purposes on Earth. And despite our best efforts to the contrary, God uses flawed Christians to further the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth. By not outright denouncing the man, Obama must appeal to the redemptive power of Jesus that makes it possible for broken men to do good in this world.

    Politically, people may very well be mad that Obama didn’t condemn Rev. Wright and call him an angry looney and a phoney. Renouncing the source of bigotry is a duty of the public servant. However, as Christians, when has it ever been our duty to condemn, rather than redeem and love our fellow man? And shouldn’t we as Christians also recognize that the source of bigotry is our fallen nature, common to all men? To call Rev. Wright or any man the SOURCE of bigotry is to give him too much credit.

  • The Jones

    As someone who has recently finished over 6 credit hours of independent study on racial politics in America, I have to say “Bravo, Barak. I’ll still give a pound of flesh to make sure you won’t be president, but I’ll be quoting your speech for decades.” Rarely do politicians make people think about issues and weigh both sides. In this instance, I believe Obama did give credence to both sides of this political divide, and he did it with style. I’ll give credit where credit is due.

    Now, I do have some issues with how Barak seemingly couldn’t find a church of equal spiritual encouragement and growth that was void of anti-America anger and hatred. I have no reason to authoritatively claim that Barak Obama’s belief’s correlate to Rev. Wright’s. To say their association warrents the sharing of those views would be uncharitable. From what I’ve seen (and recently heard) that would seem not to be the case. I believe Barak going to that church is more a statement on his poor church-chosing skills, not a statement on his racial philosophy.

    However, on the flip-side: Did anyone notice an important point that was dealt with in the speech, which has rarely been brought up in any evangelical Christian political movement? Despite the fact that Rev. Wright is angry, bitter, and resentful, Obama said he was instrumental in bringing him to Christ. God uses people with faults to accomplish his purposes on Earth. And despite our best efforts to the contrary, God uses flawed Christians to further the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth. By not outright denouncing the man, Obama must appeal to the redemptive power of Jesus that makes it possible for broken men to do good in this world.

    Politically, people may very well be mad that Obama didn’t condemn Rev. Wright and call him an angry looney and a phoney. Renouncing the source of bigotry is a duty of the public servant. However, as Christians, when has it ever been our duty to condemn, rather than redeem and love our fellow man? And shouldn’t we as Christians also recognize that the source of bigotry is our fallen nature, common to all men? To call Rev. Wright or any man the SOURCE of bigotry is to give him too much credit.

  • Bror Erickson

    It was definately a better speech then the can’t we all get along speech I remember from some years back.
    To answer Veith’s question. Yes it can be healed. But it isn’t going to be easy. I do believe the country has come a long way since the 60′s I wasn’t there then though. I came of age in the 90′s which weren’t all that pleasant either. I think the country has come a long way since then too. But I do believe it still has a long way to go. And I think it is events like this that push us a long, push us towards uniting as Americans.

  • Bror Erickson

    It was definately a better speech then the can’t we all get along speech I remember from some years back.
    To answer Veith’s question. Yes it can be healed. But it isn’t going to be easy. I do believe the country has come a long way since the 60′s I wasn’t there then though. I came of age in the 90′s which weren’t all that pleasant either. I think the country has come a long way since then too. But I do believe it still has a long way to go. And I think it is events like this that push us a long, push us towards uniting as Americans.

  • S Bauer

        For the past 14 years I have been a white pastor of an inner-city LCMS church in Denver that is predominately comprised of black Lutherans. Drop them into a worship service at Lake Wobegon Lutheran Church and they’d be completely in their element. But they look at the world, and at America, through a very different set of eyeballs than I, or most other white people do. Not everything they see is in focus, some may be even wrong-headed, but then other things they see much more clearly and accurately than white people do. I have been able to gain a little bit of that perspective in the time I have been here and, by God’s grace, it has made me a better Christian, in my heart and in my head at least, if not always in my deeds.
        In my calling, I have also had ample opportunity to work with and witness, black pastors and churches of other denominations. Yes, what Obama’s pastor says about America is not too far afield from what is often preached from black pulpits across this country. I think some of that preaching is justified, unless one wants to take the position that our country is somehow synonymous with the kingdom of God. If black churches tend to denounce the sins of their perceived “opponents” and miss some of their own, I can think of plenty of Lutheran churches where the same thing happens. Are we to denounce, disinherit and cast out our “mentors” or “(fore)fathers” because they had some wrong headed blind spots?

        You can find this v ery same reality in microcosm in our own LCMS church body. Visit some of our LCMS black congregations. Go to the Black Ministry Family Convocation that meets every two years (in Washington D.C. this summer). You can hear the same undercurrent of anger at how our “white” Synod treated black Lutherans as second class and third rate Christians up into the 1970′s.

  • S Bauer

        For the past 14 years I have been a white pastor of an inner-city LCMS church in Denver that is predominately comprised of black Lutherans. Drop them into a worship service at Lake Wobegon Lutheran Church and they’d be completely in their element. But they look at the world, and at America, through a very different set of eyeballs than I, or most other white people do. Not everything they see is in focus, some may be even wrong-headed, but then other things they see much more clearly and accurately than white people do. I have been able to gain a little bit of that perspective in the time I have been here and, by God’s grace, it has made me a better Christian, in my heart and in my head at least, if not always in my deeds.
        In my calling, I have also had ample opportunity to work with and witness, black pastors and churches of other denominations. Yes, what Obama’s pastor says about America is not too far afield from what is often preached from black pulpits across this country. I think some of that preaching is justified, unless one wants to take the position that our country is somehow synonymous with the kingdom of God. If black churches tend to denounce the sins of their perceived “opponents” and miss some of their own, I can think of plenty of Lutheran churches where the same thing happens. Are we to denounce, disinherit and cast out our “mentors” or “(fore)fathers” because they had some wrong headed blind spots?

        You can find this v ery same reality in microcosm in our own LCMS church body. Visit some of our LCMS black congregations. Go to the Black Ministry Family Convocation that meets every two years (in Washington D.C. this summer). You can hear the same undercurrent of anger at how our “white” Synod treated black Lutherans as second class and third rate Christians up into the 1970′s.

  • S Bauer

    Oh. One more thing. This one speech of Obama’s has just about convinced me of voting for him. If George W. Bush hasn’t been able to destroy this country with his policies, than Obama’s policies, even though I might not agree with all of them, are worth enduring for the opportunity to have a leader that works seriously and wisely toward greater unity.

  • S Bauer

    Oh. One more thing. This one speech of Obama’s has just about convinced me of voting for him. If George W. Bush hasn’t been able to destroy this country with his policies, than Obama’s policies, even though I might not agree with all of them, are worth enduring for the opportunity to have a leader that works seriously and wisely toward greater unity.

  • Greg

    Obama did give a great speach. It makes no difference as to my vote though, I will never vote for a prochoice presidential candiate. I will abstain from voting before I would cast such a vote.

  • Greg

    Obama did give a great speach. It makes no difference as to my vote though, I will never vote for a prochoice presidential candiate. I will abstain from voting before I would cast such a vote.

  • kerner

    “We’ve tried the African American/Conservative politician, but it seems to me that no one in the black community is paying attention. So…” Bruce @2

    Patience, Bruce. Remember that there were orginally 2 sides to this divide. Now, with the growth of the Hispanic and Asian communities, there are 4 or more sides to racial divisions. I reject the idea that nobody but a black liberal can bridge the gap between black and white people. At the very least, it will take a white conservative as well.

    I think that a great many white conservatives realized long ago that African Americans should be intigrated into the social and economic structure of our larger culture. Much of the resistance to that intigration seems to be coming from black politicians (and clergymen) who don’t seem to want other black people to blend into the culture around them. At least not until some kind of retribution or reparation or CHANGE takes place.

    The United States of America has produced the most freedom and prosperity for more people than any country in history. Members (perhaps the majority of members) of every culture in the world recognise this fact, which is why other countries try to be like us and why so many immigrants want to join us.

    I suppose that it should not be a surprise that one of the cultures that has difficulty recognizing America’s greatness is that of the descendants of the people America once enslaved. Too many black people have been raised on rhetoric very similar to Rev. Wright’s. They believe that America is their enemy, and they don’t want to join American culture until America changes. But what kind of changes? America is not going to morph into a secular-humanist, pro-death, socialist society as a precondition to “racial healing”. To do that would be to sacrifice that which makes America the great country that it is.

    While it is surely true that all too many white people hold unjustifiably antagonistic attitudes towards black people, Rev. Wright’s rather forthright preaching surely proves that the feeling is mutual. I agree that this has got to stop, but I fear that it is black people that will have to adjust more than white people will. This is not because I think that this is fair.

    I think it is dictated by human nature. If black people do not learn how to intigrate into larger American culture, which will probably mean developing attitudes (probably less socialistic attitudes) more like the rest of us, for black people to be on the outside of American culture will cause more misery for black people than it will for the caucasian, hispanic, asian and Native American people who make up the rest of American society.

    Also, I think African Americans increasingly are gaining an appreciation for America’s virtues, even if they clearly see our faults. More and more black people are succeeding in America. Eventually the antipathy towards America among black people will fade, though it is taking far too long to suit me. I would like to do what ever I can to make it happen faster, but the good principles that made America great can not be compromised.

  • kerner

    “We’ve tried the African American/Conservative politician, but it seems to me that no one in the black community is paying attention. So…” Bruce @2

    Patience, Bruce. Remember that there were orginally 2 sides to this divide. Now, with the growth of the Hispanic and Asian communities, there are 4 or more sides to racial divisions. I reject the idea that nobody but a black liberal can bridge the gap between black and white people. At the very least, it will take a white conservative as well.

    I think that a great many white conservatives realized long ago that African Americans should be intigrated into the social and economic structure of our larger culture. Much of the resistance to that intigration seems to be coming from black politicians (and clergymen) who don’t seem to want other black people to blend into the culture around them. At least not until some kind of retribution or reparation or CHANGE takes place.

    The United States of America has produced the most freedom and prosperity for more people than any country in history. Members (perhaps the majority of members) of every culture in the world recognise this fact, which is why other countries try to be like us and why so many immigrants want to join us.

    I suppose that it should not be a surprise that one of the cultures that has difficulty recognizing America’s greatness is that of the descendants of the people America once enslaved. Too many black people have been raised on rhetoric very similar to Rev. Wright’s. They believe that America is their enemy, and they don’t want to join American culture until America changes. But what kind of changes? America is not going to morph into a secular-humanist, pro-death, socialist society as a precondition to “racial healing”. To do that would be to sacrifice that which makes America the great country that it is.

    While it is surely true that all too many white people hold unjustifiably antagonistic attitudes towards black people, Rev. Wright’s rather forthright preaching surely proves that the feeling is mutual. I agree that this has got to stop, but I fear that it is black people that will have to adjust more than white people will. This is not because I think that this is fair.

    I think it is dictated by human nature. If black people do not learn how to intigrate into larger American culture, which will probably mean developing attitudes (probably less socialistic attitudes) more like the rest of us, for black people to be on the outside of American culture will cause more misery for black people than it will for the caucasian, hispanic, asian and Native American people who make up the rest of American society.

    Also, I think African Americans increasingly are gaining an appreciation for America’s virtues, even if they clearly see our faults. More and more black people are succeeding in America. Eventually the antipathy towards America among black people will fade, though it is taking far too long to suit me. I would like to do what ever I can to make it happen faster, but the good principles that made America great can not be compromised.

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    Kerner, I’d be really interested to hear what feedback you get if you share your thoughts (@9) with various black people. Perhaps, like me, they’ll be surprised to hear that, as a group, they “ha[ve] difficulty recognizing America’s greatness.” Or, perhaps, like me, they’ll take umbrage at being told they need to think “more like the rest of us,” whoever “us” happens to be.

    You appear to believe that black people are not truly part of America or its culture: “They believe that America is their enemy, and they don’t want to join American culture until America changes. … If black people do not learn how to intigrate into larger American culture, which will probably mean developing attitudes … more like the rest of us.”

    But black people are part of America and its culture. This is rather evident if you look at folk and pop music in the past 100 years, though that’s far from all (it’s just what I know better).

    To me the problem isn’t that they’re not part of our culture, it’s that there are people in our culture who define that culture so as to exclude black people. Or, for that matter, those with socialist ideas. (My rebuttal, in part, would read: gospel music, public education, hip hop, child labor laws, jazz, Social Security, … all rather American.) Again, perhaps you think black people need to be “more like the rest of us” because you don’t think “us” includes black people. And maybe that’s part of the problem.

    I certainly feel blessed to live in America, and I’d guess you do, too. But not everyone in America feels blessed. Poor people — white, black, Hispanic, or whatever — know that America’s promises aren’t for everyone, that occasionally our rhetoric rings hollow, and that only because they were born disadvantaged, not necessarily because of anything they did.

    I mean, what did I do to qualify to be born to a middle-class couple in a nice suburb with good schools that afforded me many opportunities in life? Nothing, and yet I benefitted from it. Is it so hard to believe that many people, including blacks, also did nothing to be born in a lower-class, run-down urban area with bad schools and no opportunity, and yet suffered for it?

    And yet if that black person complains about his lot in life, gets angry about it, or realizes that maybe America plays favorites, we tell them they’re not part of our culture? Hmm.

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    Kerner, I’d be really interested to hear what feedback you get if you share your thoughts (@9) with various black people. Perhaps, like me, they’ll be surprised to hear that, as a group, they “ha[ve] difficulty recognizing America’s greatness.” Or, perhaps, like me, they’ll take umbrage at being told they need to think “more like the rest of us,” whoever “us” happens to be.

    You appear to believe that black people are not truly part of America or its culture: “They believe that America is their enemy, and they don’t want to join American culture until America changes. … If black people do not learn how to intigrate into larger American culture, which will probably mean developing attitudes … more like the rest of us.”

    But black people are part of America and its culture. This is rather evident if you look at folk and pop music in the past 100 years, though that’s far from all (it’s just what I know better).

    To me the problem isn’t that they’re not part of our culture, it’s that there are people in our culture who define that culture so as to exclude black people. Or, for that matter, those with socialist ideas. (My rebuttal, in part, would read: gospel music, public education, hip hop, child labor laws, jazz, Social Security, … all rather American.) Again, perhaps you think black people need to be “more like the rest of us” because you don’t think “us” includes black people. And maybe that’s part of the problem.

    I certainly feel blessed to live in America, and I’d guess you do, too. But not everyone in America feels blessed. Poor people — white, black, Hispanic, or whatever — know that America’s promises aren’t for everyone, that occasionally our rhetoric rings hollow, and that only because they were born disadvantaged, not necessarily because of anything they did.

    I mean, what did I do to qualify to be born to a middle-class couple in a nice suburb with good schools that afforded me many opportunities in life? Nothing, and yet I benefitted from it. Is it so hard to believe that many people, including blacks, also did nothing to be born in a lower-class, run-down urban area with bad schools and no opportunity, and yet suffered for it?

    And yet if that black person complains about his lot in life, gets angry about it, or realizes that maybe America plays favorites, we tell them they’re not part of our culture? Hmm.

  • kerner

    tODD:

    I have discussed this with black people I know. Old guys like me who remember the civil rights movement in the 60′s. We don’t agree on everything, but we agree on what happened. The civil rights movement divided into 2 branches. One was typified by the preaching of Martin Luther King, who called for integration of black people into American society. The other was typified by the teaching of Malcom X (before he learned differently and got murdered for it) who named white people as the enemy and called on black people to reject American culture in so far as it was the product of white people.

    Shelby Steele, in his recent article calls these two types “bargainers” and “challengers”. You can read it here:

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120579535818243439/html?mod=opinion_main_commentaries

    I am not saying that for a black person to complain about his lot in life puts him outside American culture. Black people have plenty of legitimate complaints, many of which have not yet been adequately addressed, and the fallout from even some complaints that HAVE been addressed remains. Besides, many many black people and better men, and better Americans, than I am.

    What I AM saying is that I think choosing to be a “challenger” is a losing game. Those who choose to play it will not achieve their goals because the larger culture will defend itself and, worse, will probably leave the challengers behind…again. The bargainers, by contrast, will move right in and get ahead, because the larger culture wants harmony. The challengers want to beat America rather than join it. But the rest of America (which is not only white anymore) will not allow itself to be beaten. I am not saying that this is right or wrong; I just think it’s true.

  • kerner

    tODD:

    I have discussed this with black people I know. Old guys like me who remember the civil rights movement in the 60′s. We don’t agree on everything, but we agree on what happened. The civil rights movement divided into 2 branches. One was typified by the preaching of Martin Luther King, who called for integration of black people into American society. The other was typified by the teaching of Malcom X (before he learned differently and got murdered for it) who named white people as the enemy and called on black people to reject American culture in so far as it was the product of white people.

    Shelby Steele, in his recent article calls these two types “bargainers” and “challengers”. You can read it here:

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120579535818243439/html?mod=opinion_main_commentaries

    I am not saying that for a black person to complain about his lot in life puts him outside American culture. Black people have plenty of legitimate complaints, many of which have not yet been adequately addressed, and the fallout from even some complaints that HAVE been addressed remains. Besides, many many black people and better men, and better Americans, than I am.

    What I AM saying is that I think choosing to be a “challenger” is a losing game. Those who choose to play it will not achieve their goals because the larger culture will defend itself and, worse, will probably leave the challengers behind…again. The bargainers, by contrast, will move right in and get ahead, because the larger culture wants harmony. The challengers want to beat America rather than join it. But the rest of America (which is not only white anymore) will not allow itself to be beaten. I am not saying that this is right or wrong; I just think it’s true.

  • kerner

    once again I have blown the link. %&*%^&%^$!!!

    you can find it at http://www.realclearpolitics.com and clicking on Tuesday.

  • kerner

    once again I have blown the link. %&*%^&%^$!!!

    you can find it at http://www.realclearpolitics.com and clicking on Tuesday.

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    Kerner, maybe it’s me, but the way you’ve phrased things in your last comment (@11) seems rather different from the reading of the previous one.

    Anyhow, I won’t deny that those two attitudes you name exist somewhere among black people. The question I have is: is there actually a single black culture, and does it neatly fit into one of those categories? Your previous comment made me think you saw black culture as a single entity, and it raging against American culture. Obviously, that article would at least put Obama within American culture by virtue of his “bargaining”.

    But this notion of “bargainers” and “challengers” — is it unique to blacks? No. There are many white people (trust me, I live in “little Beirut”) who are challengers, who are angry at America and as such separate from its larger culture.

    You could also split Christians into the same two crowds — quite a lot of Christians reject American culture as well, and if they wouldn’t go so far as to call it “the enemy”, they would at least agree that it is allied with their enemy, Satan. Integration is not their goal.

    Which makes me wonder if “challenging” is really such a losing proposition. How many people could you split off from “American culture” in one way or another — Christian conservatives, angry blacks, angry whites, feminists, and so on — as not being team players, and, after you’d done so, what would you have left? Isn’t our culture composed of these groups, influenced by them? Would you even have a majority left? Or perhaps just a plurality?

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    Kerner, maybe it’s me, but the way you’ve phrased things in your last comment (@11) seems rather different from the reading of the previous one.

    Anyhow, I won’t deny that those two attitudes you name exist somewhere among black people. The question I have is: is there actually a single black culture, and does it neatly fit into one of those categories? Your previous comment made me think you saw black culture as a single entity, and it raging against American culture. Obviously, that article would at least put Obama within American culture by virtue of his “bargaining”.

    But this notion of “bargainers” and “challengers” — is it unique to blacks? No. There are many white people (trust me, I live in “little Beirut”) who are challengers, who are angry at America and as such separate from its larger culture.

    You could also split Christians into the same two crowds — quite a lot of Christians reject American culture as well, and if they wouldn’t go so far as to call it “the enemy”, they would at least agree that it is allied with their enemy, Satan. Integration is not their goal.

    Which makes me wonder if “challenging” is really such a losing proposition. How many people could you split off from “American culture” in one way or another — Christian conservatives, angry blacks, angry whites, feminists, and so on — as not being team players, and, after you’d done so, what would you have left? Isn’t our culture composed of these groups, influenced by them? Would you even have a majority left? Or perhaps just a plurality?

  • kerner

    tODD,

    I don’t really have a problem with a certain amount of challenging. This is a competitive culture. We have a free market economy. We have a competitive political system. We have an influx of people from all over the world, of every race and creed. I can live with all that, and I even embrace it, as anybody who has read my comments on immigration knows.

    But I have a really big problem with those, of whatever subgroup, who want to change the culture fundamentally. Take away our political or economic or religious freedom, and we stop being America. Commitment to these fundamental principles is the glue that binds us together and makes us strong.

    And I know that black people are not one big homogenious bloc, or even two, but I thank you for reminding everyone. Discussions like this one tend to overuse generalities.

    All this said, the practical effect of my observations is that I will not vote for Obama because he is way too left wing for me. If the Republicans put J.C. Watts of Condoleeza Rice on the ticket as Vice President, I’ll vote for either of them without batting an eye, because they support the principles in which I believe. McCain is old and there’s a real chance that the VP might have to step in, and either one of them would be fine with me.

    Which may be the point I am trying so inartfully to make. For a lot of us old conservative white guys, it’s not about race, it’s about principles. The way to get me to vote for a black person or a woman or some other person of a race or gender different from my own is for that person to champion my principles. I am willing to do whatever I can to help more people who are not like me to share my principles. But each person will have to choose those for him/her self.

  • kerner

    tODD,

    I don’t really have a problem with a certain amount of challenging. This is a competitive culture. We have a free market economy. We have a competitive political system. We have an influx of people from all over the world, of every race and creed. I can live with all that, and I even embrace it, as anybody who has read my comments on immigration knows.

    But I have a really big problem with those, of whatever subgroup, who want to change the culture fundamentally. Take away our political or economic or religious freedom, and we stop being America. Commitment to these fundamental principles is the glue that binds us together and makes us strong.

    And I know that black people are not one big homogenious bloc, or even two, but I thank you for reminding everyone. Discussions like this one tend to overuse generalities.

    All this said, the practical effect of my observations is that I will not vote for Obama because he is way too left wing for me. If the Republicans put J.C. Watts of Condoleeza Rice on the ticket as Vice President, I’ll vote for either of them without batting an eye, because they support the principles in which I believe. McCain is old and there’s a real chance that the VP might have to step in, and either one of them would be fine with me.

    Which may be the point I am trying so inartfully to make. For a lot of us old conservative white guys, it’s not about race, it’s about principles. The way to get me to vote for a black person or a woman or some other person of a race or gender different from my own is for that person to champion my principles. I am willing to do whatever I can to help more people who are not like me to share my principles. But each person will have to choose those for him/her self.

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    Kerner (@14), you said you “have a really big problem with those, of whatever subgroup, who want to change the culture fundamentally.” But isn’t that what we, as Christians want to do?

    Of course, we (or most of us here, at least) don’t want to restrict (most) freedoms in order to change the culture. But we do want to change it.

    But then, do the black people you’re thinking of really want to restrict other’s freedoms in their desire to change the culture (whether cooperatively or not)? You may very well answer yes (though I’d like some specifics), but then I would ask if the examples you provide are really outside our culture (which, contrary to something you said earlier, actually does have socialist elements, like it or not). For instance, you may consider use of tax money to help disadvantaged black people to restrict your freedoms, but as a culture, we have already agreed that it is good to use tax money to help disadvantaged people in general. You may not agree with that, but then who is outside our culture — you, or the person advocating for this use of taxes?

    I have nothing to say about your feelings on Obama’s positions — that is certainly your, and everyone’s right, and frankly, I sympathize. It all comes down to a weighing of which issues are important, which positions are likely to be acted on and which are merely crowd-pleasing rhetoric.

    I will say that it is something of an indicator of where our country is, in general, with respect to race that people can consider a candidate’s politics irrespective of his skin color. So that’s nice.

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    Kerner (@14), you said you “have a really big problem with those, of whatever subgroup, who want to change the culture fundamentally.” But isn’t that what we, as Christians want to do?

    Of course, we (or most of us here, at least) don’t want to restrict (most) freedoms in order to change the culture. But we do want to change it.

    But then, do the black people you’re thinking of really want to restrict other’s freedoms in their desire to change the culture (whether cooperatively or not)? You may very well answer yes (though I’d like some specifics), but then I would ask if the examples you provide are really outside our culture (which, contrary to something you said earlier, actually does have socialist elements, like it or not). For instance, you may consider use of tax money to help disadvantaged black people to restrict your freedoms, but as a culture, we have already agreed that it is good to use tax money to help disadvantaged people in general. You may not agree with that, but then who is outside our culture — you, or the person advocating for this use of taxes?

    I have nothing to say about your feelings on Obama’s positions — that is certainly your, and everyone’s right, and frankly, I sympathize. It all comes down to a weighing of which issues are important, which positions are likely to be acted on and which are merely crowd-pleasing rhetoric.

    I will say that it is something of an indicator of where our country is, in general, with respect to race that people can consider a candidate’s politics irrespective of his skin color. So that’s nice.


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