The next election and race
By Jack Kerwick
There can be no doubt that the presidential campaign of 2012 is underway, for Barack Obama's supporters have begun to accelerate the rate at which they charge the president's critics with "racism."
The Racism Industrial Complex has been laboring indefatigably since Obama became a viable contender during the Democratic primaries in 2007 until the present to discredit all criticism of the president by attributing it to racial animus. In spite of all of the hopes for inter-racial harmony that millions of people placed in an Obama presidency -- hopes to which his promises for such unity gave rise -- not only hasn't acrimony between the races abated; to judge from the sound of his supporters -- including and especially his more prominent black supporters like Tavis Smiley and Whoopi Goldberg -- matters are worst now than before Obama was elected.
But those of you -- including those of you who should have known better -- who placed your hopes and dreams for a color-blind world in Obama should take heart. As far as race relations are concerned, things are really neither worse nor better than they were in 2008. The Anti-Racists among us -- i.e. Obama supporters -- just want for us to think that they are so.
There is a plethora of reasons for why Obama was elected to the presidency the first time around. To no slight extent, the racial psychology of many a white voter figures among them. At the risk of oversimplifying this complex phenomenon, suffice it to say that whites wanted, desperately wanted, to be able to vote, and to say that they voted, for a black man. Individual whites wanted to convince themselves and others that they were not racist, it is true; but they also genuinely wanted to convince blacks and other aggrieved minorities that America is not, or at least is no longer, the bastion of racial oppression of their imaginings.
To put it even more simply, whites voted for Obama because they genuinely longed for peaceful co-existence between the races and they had faith in a President Obama to transform that dream into a reality.
Make no mistake about it, the belief that anyone could usher in a post-racial paradise was utopian nonsense at its best (or worst). The belief that Obama could do so was outright stupidity. The impossibility of any one person resolving the historical tensions between blacks and whites in one grand synthesis aside, there is nothing in this man's past to indicate that he would even want to do that if he could. A simple read of his first memoir -- aptly subtitled, A Story of Race and Inheritance -- to say nothing of his long-standing friendships with such racialists as Jeremiah Wright, readily reveal that Obama's views on race are far from coinciding with those of many of the whites who voted for him.
Neither now nor ever has Obama sought to heal racial divisions. As his own words in Dreams from My Father make painfully clear, his thoughts on race aren't significantly different from the likes of his pastor of over twenty years, the Black Liberation theologian Jeremiah Wright, or, for that matter, from someone like Malcolm X, with whom Obama became much taken during his college years and to whom he frequently refers as an inspiration. Indeed, from his hostility to business to his profligate spending, from his obsequiousness toward Islamic leaders to his coldness toward such traditional American allies as Israel and England, from his socialization of the medical industry ("Obamacare") to his enthusiasm for third world immigration, Obama's policy agenda assumes a level of intelligibility in light of this racial ideology that it would otherwise lack.
It is crucial for all of us who are truly interested in inter-racial peace to bear all of this in mind the next time around. In fact, at no other time -- save perhaps 2008 -- will it be more important for us to continually remind ourselves of this, for the agents of the Racism Industrial Complex, with Obama's blessings, are going to do their best to see to it that lightning strikes twice. Contrary to the conventional wisdom among Republicans, 2012 is not going to be all about the economy. It is going to be about race.
This is what the Democrats are counting on. This is what they are going to work tirelessly to make happen.
So Republicans and all of the president's opponents better brace themselves.
Jack Kerwick, Ph.D. blogs at www.jackkerwick.com Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.