Sunday, March 16, 2008

Passive Racism and Obama's Dilemma

This might be off the mark, so I hope it does not offend.

The recent controversy with Obama's pastor's 'indelicate' remarks is, I think, indicative of a certain kind of racism. As Matthew Yglesias puts it:
After all, before Obama was a half-black guy running in a mostly white country he was a half-white guy running in a mostly black neighborhood. At that time, associating with a very large, influential, local church with black nationalist overtones was a clear political asset (it's also clear in his book that it made him, personally, feel "blacker" to belong to a slightly kitschy black church). Since emerging onto a larger stage, it's been the reverse and Obama's consistently sought to distance himself from Wright, disinviting him from his campaign's launch, analogizing him to a crazy uncle who you love but don't listen to, etc.
I don't believe that Obama harbors any of these beliefs himself, but being black and organizing in the African-American community in the South Side of Chicago, these kinds of associations are inevitable. That then has the potential to mark a black candidate whereas a white one would never have to had confronted such a dilemma (and people are not nearly as outraged by culturally/sexually defamatory remarks, which might make some sense considering the position in question is serving as the executive of the United States).

Coming from a frum world where rabbomin can be less than delicate (although not quite as indelicate as Pastor Wright) I am sympathetic to this problem; I am not certain most Americans feel the same

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