Beliefnet
At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

As multiple scandals besiege his administration, President Obama made time to address the students of Morehouse College, a “historically black” institution of higher learning.   According to Front Page Magazine’s Daniel Greenfield, Obama is simply resorting to the race card, the Rosetta stone for escaping political travails of leftists everywhere.

Greenfield is correct as far as he goes.  The problem is that he doesn’t go nearly far enough.

Obama’s entire career is a race card.

To put it another way, while many of the labels that his opponents have ascribed to him fit to some extent or other, none of them fit like the proverbial glove.  The reason for this is that “socialist,” “Alinskyite,” “radical leftist,” “anti-colonialist” and the rest fail to capture the essence of that which fundamentally drives Obama: race.  

More specifically, none of these characterizations does justice to the fact that it is his lifelong quest to secure for himself “authentic” blackness that animates Obama.

To put it simply, while he most certainly does subscribe to leftism and all that this entails, Obama’s ideology of choice is “blackism.”  By affirming this ideology, authentic blackness is achieved.

Like all ideologies, blackism is a creed or doctrine. It consists of the following tenets.

First, history is to be understood as an epic interracial melodrama.  Historical actors, though, are not flesh and blood individuals but abstract categories, namely the categories of “white oppression” and “non-white suffering.”

Second, white racism is alone the thread that unites the past with the present.  White racism remains endemic—even if it is not as “overt” as it once was.

It is this belief that accounts for why, despite having been elected twice to the American presidency, Obama and his surrogates can still talk about America’s “racism” and that of his rivals.

Third, “social justice” is society’s cardinal virtue.

The federal government must become an instrument for compensating blacks for historical injustices.  Only a powerful, activist government can rectify racial inequalities, inequities that are the legacy of centuries of white racism.

Finally, “racial authenticity” is both possible and desirable.  And racial authenticity can be achieved by simply affirming blackism!

The words of Professor Cornel West are instructive here.  According to West, since “’black enough’ always means ‘bold enough,’” Clarence Thomas, a “phenotypically, beautifully black” person is nevertheless not black enough.  Thomas is “a right-wing conservative who sides with the strong against the weak” and, thus, is “not bold enough.”  On the other hand, Thurgood Marshall, “a beautifully high-yellow black,” most definitely was “black enough because he was bold enough.  He didn’t side with the strong, he sided with the weak.”

A blackist must be black by birth, it is true, but his biology alone is not sufficient. And it is neither necessary nor sufficient that the blackist be fluent in black culture.

An ideology comprises the cliff notes, the Reader’s Digest version, so to speak, of an older, vastly more complex cultural tradition.

In religion, ideology assumes the form of theology.  For example, the Christian religion had already been a way of life for hundreds of years before the Nicene Creed—a quintessential expression of its theology—was formulated.  The latter is an abridgment of the former, a relatively few simple propositions that, in theory, can be affirmed by anyone and at any time.

There is a complex of cultural traditions that is peculiar to many, but not all, black Americans.  Blackism is a distillation of these traditions, “the black experience” in America boiled down to a handful of propositions easily affirmed by all biologically black persons—whether they are personally familiar with these traditions or not.

In other words, blackism is the ideology for the Barack Obamas of the world.

Obama’s first memoir, Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, is nothing more or less than one man’s odyssey in search, not so much of a father, but of racial identity.  Separated by eons from “the black experience,” Obama has spent the better part of his natural existence, and all of his adult life, aching to be seen, and to see himself, as “authentically” black.

It is this aching that accounts for Dreams. It is this aching that explains Obama’s pursuit of Jeremiah Wright and his insistence upon sitting for some 20 years in Wright’s church, a church saturated in Black Liberation Theology.  It is Obama’s desire to secure racial authenticity that motivated him to become a “community activist,” attend Louis Farrakhan’s “Million Man March,” and once claim that he opposed the idea of reparations because he didn’t think that it went far enough. 

But the cultural traditions of black Americans have always been as alien to Obama as they are alien to any of the thousands of privileged whites with whom he attended The University of Chicago and Harvard.   The ideology of blackism, however, permits him to surmount this. Simply affirm its tenets and presto!—instant racial authenticity!

Make no mistakes about it, whatever else may be said of Obama’s allegiances, he is first and always a true believer in the ideology of blackism.

 

 

 

 

Radio talk show host Mike Gallagher is the latest “conservative” media personality to endorse amnesty.  Since he revealed his Road to Damascus conversion on this topic a few days ago, Gallagher has been skewered by one-time fans.

Perhaps they should cease the skewering by ceasing to listen to Gallagher—or any other talk radio figure who favors amnesty.

More so than the substance of their position, it is the bad faith and condescension with which these “conservative” hosts argue for their position that justifies this move.

Those of us who affirm American sovereignty and the rule of law have long recognized that a government that wouldn’t lift a finger to prevent millions of immigrants from flooding into the country illegally certainly isn’t going to now round up and deport them all.  So those who insist that this is the only alternative to amnesty set up what logicians call a false dichotomy—one of the logical fallacies identified by Aristotle.

Gallagher and his ilk attribute to their opponents a position that the latter do not hold.  Worse, their enemies assign to respecters of the rule of law a position that is a species of wishful thinking, and one that the resisters of amnesty have always known, and known better than anyone, is wishful thinking.

Those who ache for America to remain a sovereign nation of laws have always maintained that it is primarily through self-deportation that the illegal immigration issue can be mitigated, though never solved.

This brings us to another point.

Pro-amnesty “conservative” personalities and politicians—along with such accomplices as Barack Obama, Janet Napolitano, and La Raza—talk about the need for a “solution” to this problem of our “broken” system.  But genuinely conservative (and, for that matter, Christian) thinkers have always known that in life, there are no solutions.  As Thomas Sowell has said, there are only “trade-offs.”

Amnesty, regardless of how it is packaged, is no more a solution to our problems than is the status quo.  It isn’t even a more effective response to our situation.  However, even if it was, this would not make it a solution, for it will give way to still more problems in the future—like an increase in illegal immigration, something that, according to border agents, is happening now as a result of all of the talk of amnesty!

For amnesty’s apologists to accuse their opponents of “doing nothing” is more dishonesty, more bad faith, on their part.

First, even if it was true that those who resist amnesty favored letting things be entirely as they are, this is still not a matter of doing nothing. It just could be the case—it undoubtedly is the case—that here, the problem is less of a problem than is the proposed “solution.”

Second, no one wants for things to remain as they are. Those who resist amnesty want for illegal immigrants to be denied all welfare entitlements, social services, employment opportunities, and voting and driving privileges.  This way, they will deport themselves.  Also, they want for the government to satisfy its job description and secure the country’s borders—an obligation that has never been subject to conditions.

Gallagher and his colleagues obviously believe that their listeners are stupid. Why else would they expect them to believe that although in the past the government has not managed to secure the borders and deprive illegal immigrants of all the benefits of citizenship—i.e. enforce its own laws–it will do so now?

And it is hard not to think that Gallagher and company aren’t themselves a bit dense.  They won’t endorse any bill, they insist, unless it promises to secure the border.  Even in the midst of all of these government scandals, and despite all of their “limited government” rhetoric, they are still going to accept the government’s “promise” to fulfill its constitutional duty—though it hasn’t done this in nearly half-a-century.

On second’s thought, maybe it is the substance of their position favoring amnesty that calls for turning off these “conservative” media personalities—at least until they wise up some.  

In the May 21st edition of Investor’s Business Daily self-avowed “conservative” talk radio host Michael Medved writes that “it’s a healthy development if people toiling in this country want to become full participants in our national life and express their willingness to go through considerable effort and expense to legalize their status as Americans” (emphasis mine).

Immediately, there are a couple of things to note here.

First, of all of the millions of illegal aliens for whom Medved wants amnesty, some indeed spend much of their time “toiling.”  Many others, however, do not.  In fact, many illegal immigrants receive all manner of welfare and social services courtesy of the American taxpayer.

Second, saying that illegal immigrants will have to do this or that in order to achieve legal status doesn’t make it so.  Resistance to amnesty stems precisely from the fact that there persists pervasive distrust of the government’s word on pretty much everything.  This is particularly the case among conservative-minded voters.  After all, this is why they are conservative.

More specifically, though, many opponents of amnesty have heard this tune before, some 27 years ago, when the country’s then 3 million “toiling” illegal immigrants were supplied with “a pathway to citizenship.”  The amnesty of 1986 only exacerbated the immigration issue.  The amnesty of 2013, opponents know, promises to do the same.

Next, through a disingenuous act of sheer sophistry, Medved contends that opposition to amnesty is one and the same as opposition to all legal immigration.  Obliterating the distinction between the lawful and the lawless, he states: “No one who truly supports legal immigration would stand in the way of millions who seek nothing more than to become legal immigrants” by paying penalties, “avoiding” welfare benefits, enduring background checks, and satisfying a number of other conditions contained in the Gang of Eight’s bill.

With all due respect to the author, this argument is silly to the point of being offensive. It is akin to the argument that no one who truly supports traditional marriage would stand in the way of millions of homosexuals who seek nothing more than to become married, or no one who truly supports medicine would stand in the way of millions who want the right to self-medicate with heroin and cocaine.

Furthermore, on Medved’s own terms, that illegal immigrants will supposedly have to satisfy a variety of conditions in order to become legal is logically irrelevant.  If one “who truly supports legal immigration” has no option but to endorse amnesty, then it shouldn’t matter whether this “pathway to citizenship” consists of a thousand qualifications or none at all.  According to Medved’s logic, all that matters is that there exists a “pathway to citizenship.”

Medved admits that “the biggest challenge to implementing” amnesty is “sorting through” the millions and millions of “human beings to distinguish those who deserve to stay from those who ought to go home.”

Reread this slowly and then reread it again.  For decades the federal government has been either unwilling or unable to adhere to its complex of immigration laws.  This amnesty bill takes a relatively complex set of laws and renders it vastly more complex.  So, the government either won’t or can’t do its job when its yoke is lighter.  When, however, it is more burdensome, then—then!—it will act efficiently and dutifully.

This is preposterous.

No less preposterous is Medved’s claim that “stubborn opposition to a path to legal status ruins the best argument that conservatives could otherwise employ in efforts to win support from Latino, Asian, and African-American voters.”

Pace Medved, amnesty is not a priority for voters of any racial background.  And it is most certainly not a priority for black voters! If anything, poll after poll shows that the majority of the country, irrespective of race or ethnicity, rejects Medved’s and Rubio’s “pathway to citizenship.”

But even if the members of these non-white groups did want amnesty, there is absolutely no reason for anyone to think that by granting it Republicans would win them over.  And there is every reason—namely, voting patterns from the years immediately preceding the amnesty of ’86 to the present—for judging the amnesty of 2013 to be the death knell of GOP dominance.

 

In recent weeks, scandal after scandal has rocked Barack Obama’s administration.  His presidency might be imperiled.

Or it might not be.

Obama steadfastly remains an activist, a “community organizer.”  Nor has he forgotten that which he learned from the godfather of all community organizers, Saul Alinsky. 

In his Rules for Radicals, Alinsky writes that the goal “of the organizer is to maneuver and bait the establishment so that it will publicly attack him as a ‘dangerous enemy.’”

Now, given that he is the President of the United States, Obama’s should be recognized by the world as the face of “the establishment.”  Obama, though, does not want this, for to be associated with “the establishment” is to be identified with the status quo, politics as usual.  But Obama promised hope, change, and even “the fundamental transformation” of America.  To make good on this promise, he needs the support of the electorate.  Yet to elicit this support, he must convince Americans not just that he is not a member of the establishment.  He must convince them that he is its enemy.   

More specifically, he must have us believe that it is those in the establishment that view him as a “dangerous enemy.”

Alinsky explains that the term “‘enemy’ is sufficient to put the organizer on the side of the people,” and that “the brand ‘dangerous’” proves that “the establishment” has “fear of the organizer,” “fear that he represents a threat to its omnipotence.”  Once this fear is established for all to see, the organizer can get to work.

Doubtless, Obama did not want for any of these scandals to come to light. Now that they’ve arisen, though, they can be exploited to depict himself as a Washington outsider and his Republican nemeses as “the establishment” that has vowed to destroy him.  Potentially, this strategy trades off short-term loss for long-term gain.

Again, Alinsky is instructive here: “If by losing in a certain action” the organizer “can get more members than by winning, then victory lies in losing and he will lose.”

There is another respect in which Obama will exploit “the crises” of government that the Republicans are trying to expose in his administration.  Rahm Emmanuel warned us against letting “a good crisis go to waste.”  Crises disorganize our ordinary categories and assumptions.  At the same time, according to Alinsky, they both reflect and “stir up” the “dissatisfaction and discontent” of the people.  This is great news for the organizer, for he can then “provide a channel into which” people “can angrily pour their frustrations [.]”

Your average person—the average voter—wants crises resolved. He longs for normalcy, some semblance of calm.   Now, Obama remains more popular than his Republican opponents, and he long ago succeeded in convincing many Americans that the GOP is the establishment while he is their “dangerous enemy.”  As long as they are perceived as “crisis mongers,” Obama counts upon the public growing weary—and frustrated—with them.  At the same time, he can style himself the hero, the organizer par excellence, who will relieve Americans’ of their exasperation by conceding that there are crises and then swooping in to solve them.  Of course, such “solutions” will come at the cost of an ever larger government, one that is even more amenable to his agenda.

But this is exactly what Obama wants, of course.

So, Obama, in spite of being among the most politically powerful people in the world, has many Americans believing that he is an enemy of the establishment. And though all of the crises of government over which his opponents are sounding the alarm are scandals for which his administration is responsible, it is Obama who will be able to take credit for resolving them.  The country has never had a president, and not even many politicians of any sort, really, who were better suited to pull off these two seemingly insurmountable tasks than is Obama.  Why?

That the media continually run cover for him obviously explains quite a bit.  Yet the President’s rivals err gravely if they attribute his success solely to the media’s partisan loyalties.

In the popular imagination—reinforced daily by Hollywood, the media, and academia—the American political establishment remains under the control of whites generally and white men specifically (i.e. “the good old boy network”). And blacks remain victims of racial oppression.  President or not, Obama’s blackness is seen as automatically rendering him an enemy of the establishment. His Arabic name, however, signifies an even wider gap between Obama and the latter.

Republicans must hold Obama accountable for his actions.  At the same time, they must reckon with our current racial politics—and the ease with which Obama, the Alinskyite, will use these perceptions to his advantage.