07.31.2009 0

Toward a True Post-Racial America

  • On: 08/17/2009 09:26:16
  • In: Barack Obama
  • By David Bozeman

    Syndicated columnist Leonard Pitts inadvertently illustrated what is wrong with race relations in America today. Detailing — surprise — the lingering racism of Republicans and readers hostile to his defense of Professor Henry Gates, he cited Republican accusations (“on the flimsiest of grounds”) that Sonia Sotomayor herself had made racist comments. He mentioned the “racially tinged” rhetoric of the McCain/Palin campaign in its final days.

    Just by reflex, one could respond that Sotomayor did, indeed, compare a wise Latina to a white male. Barack Obama did, in fact, align himself with a domestic terrorist and a bile-spewing preacher. Mere mention of that is, presumably, the racist tinge to McCain/Palin ’08. Pitts did not elaborate. If McCain deserves blame, however, it should be for not highlighting Obama’s ties even more.

    Such is the hamster-wheel of American discourse. Lots of verbal energy is spent getting nowhere. The issue of race has been hijacked by the political class, discussed, ad nauseam, almost always through the prism of one’s political objectives. Racism is seldom considered rationally and dispassionately but is instead used as a battering ram to destroy the opposition — and almost exclusively by the left against conservatives.

    The recent White House Beer Summit, of course, was mere political theater meant to diffuse a political time bomb. President Obama has yet to emerge as a truly post-racial president. Instead of endless bromides about change and transformation and policies that emphasize government activism over self-sufficiency, he could extol the greatness of America’s fundamental institutions. He could celebrate an America that elected him with an impressive 53% of the popular vote to be its leader. His occasional plugs for individual responsibility and fatherhood are lost in the din of platitudes and bumper sticker sloganeering.

    The sad reality of tying race to politics is that Obama, the most revered black man in America, leads a party that, through its alignment with the National Education Association, has repeatedly blocked enormously popular voucher and school choice legislation, most recently in Washington, DC. Most inner cities, in fact, under Democrat control, have seen notoriously high rates of poverty, crime and high school dropouts.

    Still, assigning blame for racial setbacks and disparity misses a larger point: black Americans deserve to be treated by their leaders as adults with free minds and independent spirits, not as grateful, ever-reliable subjects of an entrenched voting bloc. Every American, when focused and inspired, is capable of far more than he or she realizes — that is the spirit that public policy should tap into. Perhaps conservative-backed enterprise zones and school vouchers are not the best solutions, but the focus of public dialogue should be on finding what is. Fixing the black nuclear family is of far greater importance but provokes far less urgency than whether some public official uttered the word ‘niggardly’ or the ravings of Don Imus or some lame, substance-free Beer Summit.

    Ideally, more Americans would draw inspiration from the life of Herman Cain than from the flowery oration of President Obama. The former CEO and chairman of the board of godfather’s Pizza is conservative, having run for the GOP nomination for the Senate from Georgia, but his contributions to American life extend far beyond partisan politics. Born in Memphis in 1945, he climbed the corporate ladder at Pillsbury’s and later took the reins of Godfather’s. He was the first black president of the National Restaurant Association and went on to win awards for his business and humanitarian efforts. Now host of a talk radio show in Atlanta, he cites his overriding principles for success as “focus, focus, focus” and “exceed the expectations of the job.” By comparison, President Obama’s life story is not uninspiring, but his administration’s rhetoric breeds a dependency far removed from Herman Cain’s living testament to individual initiative and capitalism.

    The title of a recent Townhall.com column reveals the banal state of political discourse: “Criticizing President Obama is Not Racist.” Even if Obama, the most lauded of modern presidents was criticized because of racism, his policies would still merit public scrutiny. His presidency, after all, is not solely about him. If history recalls that Obama led, not by transforming America, but by seeking to extend the traditions of liberty to all citizens, then he can truly be remembered as a post-racial president.

    David Bozeman is a Liberty Features Syndicated Columnist and ALG News contributor.

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