Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Comeuppance


Excerpt from Obama's speech today on racial issues in the US. READ:

For we have a choice in this country. We can accept a politics that breeds division, and conflict, and cynicism. We can tackle race only as spectacle -- as we did in the O.J. trial -- or in the wake of tragedy, as we did in the aftermath of Katrina -- or as fodder for the nightly news. We can play Reverend Wright's sermons on every channel, every day, and talk about them from now until the election, and make the only question in this campaign whether or not the American people think that I somehow believe or sympathize with his most offensive words. We can pounce on some gaffe by a Hillary supporter as evidence that she's playing the race card, or we can speculate on whether white men will all flock to John McCain in the general election regardless of his policies.

We can do that. But if we do, I can tell you that in the next election, we'll be talking about some other distraction. And then another one. And then another one. And nothing will change.

I really have to recommend that you read the whole speech, because I think it is in a small way fairly remarkable for a major presidential candidate to say the things he is saying here.

Like this:

The fact that so many people are surprised to hear that anger in some of Reverend Wright's sermons simply reminds us of the old truism that the most segregated hour in American life occurs on Sunday morning. 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 in our condition, and 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's handed them anything, they've built it from scratch. They've worked hard all their lives, many times only to see their jobs shipped overseas or their pension dumped after a lifetime of labor. They are anxious about their futures, and feel their dreams slipping away; 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 prejudiced, 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. Anger over welfare and affirmative action helped forge the Reagan Coalition. Politicians routinely exploited fears of crime for their own electoral ends. Talk show hosts and conservative commentators built entire careers unmasking bogus claims of racism while dismissing legitimate discussions of racial injustice and inequality as mere political correctness or reverse racism.

I got to say folks - wow. Oh, and holy fucking shit as well.

To me, my friends, this is out of the freaking park. This goes way beyond the platitudes about justice and equality and opportunity that have comprised most Democratic campaign rhetoric. Obama here is actually tackling complex truths - like, successfully and shit.

Wait a minute. What the fuck?? --- We don't want complex truths!

We want big bad black minister talking smack about Americuh. Never mind that right-wing ministers have been blaming the citizens of this nation for everything from Hurricane Katrina to 9/11. Never mind that
their endorsements of candidates appear on the front page of the candidate's website, not spinning in some endless loop of shame between YouTube and Fox News. We want to find a reason why this inspirational and smart and talented young man is not worthy of our vote, and it matters not whether he's unworthy because he's black, or a Democrat, or a man, or a secret Muslim. It matters not. The point is, we need him taken down, because nothing is more scary to a country founded by Puritans than when someone washes our dirty knickers in public. As long as McCain is elected, then we never have to admit that anything is wrong with us, and that's exactly why people will vote for him.

But something is wrong with us, and once every four years, we come face-to-face with the most blatant manifestations of that wrongitude.

Small case in point: Michelle Obama. A couple of weeks ago, she said something that people who are inclined to misconstrue, misconstrued. For a couple of days the babbling heads babbled about how she'd said, while speaking of her husband's campaign, that
"for the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country."

What an explosion of gaseous, noxious fumes exploded over our nation's airwaves in the wake of that remark! It was a classic election year feeding frenzy. And presto! - thus was born the narrative of Michelle Obama, unpatriotic harpy, until either election day, or they find out something worse about her, whichever comes first.

What could be worse than lax patriotism, you ask?

Well, let's see. Let me think for a minute.

Maybe...okay, how about - you're the wife of a successful senator whose career you financed with family money after he left his first wife and kids for you. You have four small children of your own. You run a prestigious medical charity. Life is good.

Well, except of course, that you pop pills. In fact, you pressure the physicians associated with your charity to write prescriptions for you, and then you fill those prescriptions using your employees' names. This is a crime for which many people go to jail, but you use your husband's influence to avoid prosecution.

You are, in fact, Mrs. John Sidney McCain. The woman about whom CNN recently posed this question "Can Cindy McCain really be that perfect?"

Now, before you go apoplectic on me, readers, let me just say that I have a great deal of sympathy for Mrs. McCain. Addiction is tough. Hey, I watched Celebrity Rehab. I'm not willing to say that she should have gone to jail. In fact, I could give a shit about the whole sordid business, except for one small point:

If Michelle Obama had done it.

What if Michelle Obama had done it, friends? You tell me. You tell me what would've happened if a sister had done it. The outspoken black sister, caught in a web of drugs, prescription shopping, and fraud.

Can you imagine the hatefest that would have ensued? A hatefest that would have made the vicious misogyny of the pre-Monica Hillary era look like Lillith Fair in comparison.

And yet Cindy gets a pass, pretty much. Why? Is it because that as the eyes-forward, mouth-shut wife of a Republican, she is understood to be off-limits?



And why is that, exactly?

Blame the election year wrongitude, I guess. Hey, if Laura Bush gets a pass on vehicular homicide, why not avert your eyes from the broke-down Stepford wife with the Turtle-Waxed hair?

Because Hillary never got a pass, fuckers. And Michelle won't either. Because reporters and their ilk are only human, and somewhere deep down a whole lot of them believe that women like Hillary and Michelle deserve what they get.

Hell, I think that way sometimes, and I'm a woman.

14 comments:

Some Guy said...

I agree, Vikki. It was a really great speech that I would also recommend people watch if they haven't already. For god's sake, can we PLEASE elect him instead of the other two!?

RandyLuvsPaiste said...

"Hell, I think that way sometimes, and I'm a woman."

What accounts for this?

Larry Jones said...

A remarkable speech. Not his usual oratory, but a matter of fact discussion. It seemed to be on a higher intellectual level than most political speeches, as if Obama was giving us credit for having some brains, being able to grasp nuance. The implications will be ignored by right wing radio and Fox News, but I have a feeling they will lose some listeners and viewers because of that (not many, but some). The speech didn't look or sound like desperate back-pedaling or ass-kissing. It made sense, and I think many people will be able to relate to the points he made.

KTLA (local teevee for those who don't live in LA) ran it live this morning, and I watched about ten minutes of it before they cut away for commercials (WTF? Why run it live when you don't plan on seeing it through?). I was late for work because I had to stop and watch. It will be remembered in history.

'Bubbles' said...

Nah, Vikki, you might get pissed at them, but there's now way you believe they deserve what they get.

Yeah, they are not perfect, but who is? If you pit yourself out there you will show the imperfection. But thank god they bother, right?

Why the hell are we women so hard on ourselves?

O.K., I'm tough on other women, too.

'Bubbles' said...

Holy cow. That comment was riddled with typos. Sorry.

vikkitikkitavi said...

Chris: It was a great speech. For me the jury is still out on electability. I know that the American people are capable of overcoming their fears and voting for him, but I'm not sure they will want to.

Randy: Women are like minorities. We have a tough time being taken seriously. So when one of us screws up, it's hard not to take it seriously. It's hard sometimes not to feel like women who leave themselves that open for criticism are ruining it for the rest of us.

Larry: The speech was also the most gentle "it's a black thing" I've ever witnessed.

Bubbles: See my comment to Randy. I don't know, I think part of it is that feeling that there are only so many successful women allowed in the world, and if you get one of those slots, you'd better not blow it, because it reflects on all of us.

kirby said...

"...because nothing is more scary to a country founded by Puritans than when someone washes our dirty knickers in public. As long as McCain is elected, then we never have to admit that anything is wrong with us, and that's exactly why people will vote for him."

That's the sound of the hammer hitting the nail on the freaking head. Excellent post.

SkylersDad said...

I believe this is your best post ever Vikki!

Larry Jones said...

Next morning after the speech: I'm listening to Limbaugh right now. He's ignoring the content. He's playing clips of a hoarse-screaming bible-thumping Clinton-supporting black minister in Harlem circa 2007, calling Obama a trash pimp who uses white women in tight T-shirts to his political advantage. White women! It's quite exciting, really.

dguzman said...

I think the thing that impresses me most is that he spoke so plainly. It wasn't your usual modern political speech full of say-nothing bullshit. It was much more a throwback to the Gettysburg address style of speaking. And shit, when compared to Mittens' "Mormons rock!" speech, Obama looks positively presidential. I still worry, however, about his ability and his integrity.

And damn right, Hillary never got a pass. I'm sure the fuckers at Faux "News" are combing through her 11K pages of personal schedules info that were just released. What are they hoping to find, an entry for "planning meeting for taking over the USA and castrating all males"???? Gimme a break.

vikkitikkitavi said...

Larry: I used to listen to Rush. But then all of that post-Rush ear-bleaching got to be a real drag.

DGuz: Can you imagine how excited they'd be if they did find that? Hillary should totally put it in her schedule as a goof, just to see how many news outlets run with it.

vikkitikkitavi said...

Kirby & SkyDad: Oops. I'm sorry, I didn't see your comments before for some reason. Thanks for likin da post.

Dad E said...

Superb reaction to a superb speech! No one can accuse you of easing.

Grant Miller said...

If Obama gets elected, that speech will be taught in schools one day.

As for Cindy McCain, she's not that perfect. At least, John McCain didn't think so.

And, speaking of race and the White House, Chris Rock's bit on white and black first ladies is really funny. Although I probably should think so.