At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

Trayvon Martin and Obama the Racialist

Back in 2008, then Senator Barack Hussein Obama and his supporters on both the left and the right assured us that in the event of his election to the presidency,America would enter a new post-racial millennium. The utopian dreams of yesterday would become the reality of tomorrow if only Americans would vote for Obama today.

Some of us at the time called this nonsense out for what we knew it was. 

In 2012, there isn’t anyone who any longer believes it.

On Friday, March 23, the President couldn’t resist remarking upon the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida.  Martin is black.  Although the man who shot him is Hispanic, according to the conventional media narrative, George Zimmerman is “white,” or a “white Hispanic.”  Thus, what appears to have been a tragedy—the confrontation that terminated in Martin’s death at least seems to have been avoidable—has been spun by the agents of the “Racism Industrial Complex” (RIC) into a racial incident.


As in the case of General Motors, Obama is “the captain” of this industry too.

Obama called for “all of us” to engage in “soul searching” so as to determine “how something…like this” could “happen.”  We must look at “the laws” and “the specifics of the incident,” of course, but also “the context for what happened (emphasis added) [.]”  By “context,” Obama clearly wasn’t talking about the immediate context of events within which Zimmerman and Martin encountered one another, for such events constitute “the specifics of the incident.” No, “the context” to which Obama referred was the larger racial narrative that has become the bread and butter for, well, people like Obama.  “If I had a son,” Obama insisted, “he’d look like Trayvon” (emphasis added).


So, as it turns out, Obama agrees with his old friend Henry Louis Gates, Jr. after all.  Gates is the Harvard University professor who in 2009 was arrested at his home when he was mistaken by the police of being an intruder.  He shouted at the arresting officer that it was due to the fact that “I’m a black man in America!” that the police set their sights on him.  As with respect to the Trayvon Martin case, hardly any of the facts of the Gates affair were known when Obama sided with Gates by claiming that theCambridgepolice “acted stupidly.” 

Obama did not have to weigh in on either of these two cases.  Furthermore, he should not have done so.  They are local events that are best left to local authorities to straighten out.  But he couldn’t help himself.  Why?  The question is rhetorical.  Obama couldn’t resist the impulse to speak to the Martin and Gates incidences for the same reason that he is the last person to whom we should turn for guidance toward a post-racial society: Obama is a racialist through and through. 


More specifically, Obama is a black racialist.

Obama asserts that his son would look like Trayvon Martin. He just as easily—and truthfully—could have said that had he a son, his son would have looked like George Zimmerman, for Zimmerman, as his photo readily attests, isn’t much lighter, if he is lighter at all, than Obama.  But he would rather latch his political and ideological fortunes to this case by identifying with the black youth whose fate is now at the center of national controversy.

This is what we should expect from a man who, in spite of his biracial parentage, has spent his life laboring to forge for himself an explicitly racial identity.  Judged not just by our standards, but those of the world, both present and past, there are few people who have had it as well as Obama has had it.  For this, he has his mother and her family—not his African father who abandoned him when he was but two years-old—to thank.  Yet Obama chooses to regard himself as black.  As his memoir, Dreams from my Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, makes abundantly clear, from the time he was an adolescent, Obama had been on a quest to achieve racial “authenticity.”  He wanted to become “authentically” black.


His understanding of what this authenticity entails we can, if we would only summon the will to do so, piece together from what we now know of him. Obama is a hard leftist who, as such, endorses the conventional political narrative of unrelenting White Oppression and perpetual Black Suffering.  To be authentically black, then, in Obama’s eyes, is to have experienced “racist” oppression.  Yet it is also to be “down with the struggle” for liberation from this subjugation.  And since this “struggle” consists of demands for race-based preferential treatment policies of one sort or another, an “authentic” black person is one who must join the chorus of the enraged “oppressed” in pushing for more of the same.  One who is “authentically” black must never fail to express racial solidarity with his fellow blacks.


This understanding of Obama coincides neatly with his choice of alliances, including and especially that of Jeremiah Wright, his pastor and “spiritual mentor” of over twenty years, the man who is an enthusiastic proponent of “Black Liberation Theology” and a good friend of none other than Louis Farakkhan.

Republicans think that they can beat Obama this election season just by focusing on his failed policies.  Maybe they can.  However, I am doubtful.  Politics, as anyone who is at all familiar with it should know, is a contest of narratives or stories.  John McCain tried to focus solely on “the issues” when he contended with Obama in 2008.  It didn’t work.  This time around, I suspect that this approach will fail once more. 


Republicans have got to re-present Obama to America.  His decisions and actions as President must be contextualized within the narrative of Obama’s life that they will weave, a narrative, much like that which he composed in Dreams, united by the theme of race.   

Not only will this narrative increase Republicans’ chances of defeating Obama in November.  It is, more importantly, a true story.   

Jack Kerwick, Ph.D. 


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