cynically naive?

A century ago, President Theodore Roosevelt's invitation of Booker T. Washington to dine at the White House was taken as an outrage in many quarters.

America today is a world away from the cruel and frightful bigotry of that time. There is no better evidence of this than the election of an African-American to the presidency of the United States.

-- John McCain
Truer words were never spoken.

And in what I consider the best "I told you so" of the election (which Glenn Reynolds linked earlier), John McWhorter looked back on his prediction that Barack Obama's election was inevitable in a piece fittingtily titled "The End of Racism":

I lost the ability to even conceive of Barack Obama not becoming president two Aprils ago.

[...]

...maybe Obama in the White House can help open up an honest discussion about the role racism does not play in black communities' problems.

[...]


America has problems and our new president knows it. However, is America's main problem still "the color line" as W.E.B. DuBois put it 105 years ago? The very fact that the president is now black is a clear sign that it is no longer our main problem, and that we can, even as morally informed and socially concerned citizens, admit it.

Two Aprils ago?

Wow. He really did say that two Aprils ago. I linked and remember it well, but I'd lost track of how much time had elapsed in what has been, after all, an endless election.

The link still works, and here's what McWhorter said:

It is reasonable to surmise that Barack Obama will be the next President.

Mr Obama has a once-in-a-lifetime charisma that Hillary Clinton could never approximate, and she also suffers from the handicap of not being black. For all of his other plusses, part of Mr Obama's appeal lies in the fact that many whites feel that voting for a black presidential candidate would be Doing the Right Thing. Leon Wieseltier has been explicit about this; he is not unique.

(Via Glenn Reynolds, whose original April 2007 link also still works.)

Cynic that I thought I was, I opined that Obama could win if people saw their votes as offsets against racism:

If a vote for Obama can be translated into a vote against racism -- a vote to end racism -- he'll be president.
How naive I was! Little did I imagine that an army of demagogic racializers would emerge, and that they would label all criticism of Obama racist -- even to the point of claiming that "socialist" was code language for black.

Is it possible to be cynically naive? If so, that's what I was being when I said that.

Clearly, the American people would like to end racism.

What remains to be seen is whether that will be allowed. I worry that there's a huge lobby with an enormous vested interest in keeping racism alive whether it wants to die or not.

I'm naive enough to hope they might leave us alone, but cynical enough to suspect they won't.

posted by Eric on 11.05.08 at 12:16 PM










Comments

I believe BO will (1) overextend by far to the left, creating a backlash (there is no historical reason based on his history to imagine he will suddenly try bi-partisanship and reach across the aisle), and (2) race tension will become much greater in America as blacks will take BO’s election as a signal that they are free to seek retribution against whites for all their perceived grievances. (I live in a large city (appx 300,000) in the South that suffered white on black racism in the past, but which is now controlled by the majority black population; from day one until the present the black government leaders, almost without exception, have used their power in a discriminatory fashion as if to exact revenge upon whites for the wrongs they (or more likely their fathers) suffered in the past). I believe the next 4 years will be dark. I hope I am wrong, and that BO shocks me and ends up being the greatest President ever. But I at this time have no rational basis for such a hope; my only hope is in God, and perhaps He has allowed the results for this purpose–so we may learn that we reap what we sow and have put our trust in vain and empty hopes and promises.

RJL   ·  November 5, 2008 2:18 PM

Single issue groups don't give up their issue without a fight.

tim maguire   ·  November 5, 2008 2:37 PM

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