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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Stoking a Racial Controversy with More Racial Nonsense

In an article about the growing controversy over the "race card" played by Barack Obama, Powerline, a site I generally like, had this very troubling passage.

Shelby Steeledivided African-American public figures into two categories:
bargainers and challengers. Bargainers state, in effect, “I will presume that you're not a racist and by loving me you'll show that my presumption is correct.” Challengers say, in effect, that whites are racist until they prove otherwise by conferring tangible benefits on them. Oprah is a bargainer; so was Louis Armstrong. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are challengers.

Barack Obama made his political breakthrough as a bargainer. By constantly referring to the national yearning (including, he said, by many Republicans) to "come together" as blacks and whites, Obama presumed we are not racists. His reward was an almost magical appeal to broad portions of the electorate.

However, Steele (who believes that bargainers are masking their real, more subtle, view of whites) predicted that Obama would not be able to maintain his bargainer status. That prophesy began to come true when the tapes of Rev. Wright surfaced. Now, as Obama feels the heat of the campaign, he continues his transformation to challenger. In Steele's terms, he no longer offers us the assurances, required of bargainers, that he knows we’re not racists; we now have to prove it to him. Having issued this challenge, Obama can no longer receive our unconditional love.

This is a very sneak and despicable passage, and I expect a lot more from that site. First, the controversial remarks are attributed to Shelby Steele and thus, I can only assume they pass off their responsibility. It is total nonsense and very divisive to stereotype ALL BLACK LEADERS into one of two very unglamorous categories, bargainers and challengers. This is just flat out unfair. First, I am no fan of Oprah but I don't for one second believe that she is looking for positive reinforcement or she will immediately call one a racist.

Furthermore, I don't think that all African American leaders take everything in such a racial way. Juan Williams doesn't fit into either category and neither does Dr. Marc Lamont Hill. Frankly, Barack Obama doesn't see the world through such a prism either. I think he made an awful mistake, but that doesn't mean his entire perspective is predicated on such a racial level. Powerline was so eager to attach to "race card" to Obama that their own race baiting is just as bad as anything that Obama did.

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