Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The Great White Hype

The meteoric rise of Sen. Barack Obama has some calling him an anti-Christ and others praising him as the Messiah. At his rallies, women swoon as if he’s a rock star.

A YouTube video, “Obama’s fainting ladies,” shows the Democratic nominee downplaying the phenomenon, as he asks crowds to “Hold on, we’ve got someone who’s sick” or “Make some space, they’re probably just a little overheated” or “She’s fine — you probably didn’t eat lunch, that’s the problem.”

But for many the problem isn’t nutrition or whether Obama and Satan are one. It’s that Obama believes he’s actually going to win.

“There’s a line smart politicians don’t cross — somewhere between ‘I’m qualified to be president’ and ‘I’m born to be president,’” AP reporter Ron Fournier wrote. “Wherever it lies, Barack Obama better watch his step. He’s bordering on arrogance.”

In fact, painting Obama as arrogant has little to do with his supposed elitism. Nor have warnings for him to tone things down been directed at him alone, but at the black community as a whole.

Similar warnings went out to African Americans at the turn of the 20th century, after the first black heavyweight champion of the world successfully defended his title against a white man.

“A word to the black man: Do not point your nose too high, do not swell your chest too much, do not boast too loudly. Let not your ambition be inordinate or take a wrong direction,” a Los Angeles Times editorial said at the time.

Almost a century later half the entire nation seems to have taken a wrong direction, with millions of white Americans prepared to elect a black man president. That may be why the Republican National Committee launched Audacity Watch, a Web site with articles like “It’s All About Obama,” “Obama Has a Vision for the Lincoln Bedroom” and “The Audacity of Hype.”

Arrogant, ambitious, audacious -- whatever the latest label being attached to Obama, the intent is to associate another word in people’s minds.


Throughout America’s past the word functioned as a slur against black people. If Sen. John McCain called his opponent uppity today, he would be out of the race faster than he could say, “Uhh—.” Nobody, though, said anything about not using synonyms.

With little to offer except the promise of reincarnating President Bush, the Republican nominee has figured that the only way to win the race is to focus on race itself. Thus “arrogant” or some variation of it has emerged as the stock reference for all things Obama.

Playing the race card nowadays hangs on subtlety, which is why it may work for McCain. One reason it didn’t work for Sen. Hillary Clinton is that her supporters were too obvious: they forgot to speak in code.

Pennsylvania’s governor, Ed Rendell, for example, said despite being “well-spoken, charismatic, good-looking,” Obama’s skin color posed a problem for Pennsylvanians.

“You’ve got conservative whites here,” he said, “and I think there are some whites who are probably not ready to vote for an African-American candidate.”

Democratic strategist Paul Begala added that Clinton was better for the party, because she attracted “working-class white folks” whereas Obama’s support base consisted of “eggheads and African Americans.”

Nuance failed many Clinton supporters, including Geraldine Ferraro, the former vice presidential candidate, who said, “If Obama was a white man he would not be in this position.”

More troubling is that even praise for Obama, from some of his own well-wishers, often highlights things like his “transcendence” of race and his “eloquence” and “speaking style,” as if the main thing he has going for him is that he doesn’t speak Ebonics.

Still, Obama and McCain are at a statistical dead heat, and so the election will be decided by undecided voters. The direction they take, however, may be a foregone conclusion because of what is known as the Bradley effect.

In elections pitting a white candidate against a non-white candidate, many white voters are guided not by party affiliation or policy positions but by melanin. Those who say they’re undecided, in particular, are mostly being polite, the theory goes, because come November they vote for the white candidate in droves.

“Welcome to the murky world of modern racism, where most of the open animus has been replaced by a shadowy bias that is difficult to measure,” Charles Blow wrote in The New York Times.

There was no difficulty measuring the animus on July 4, 1910, when thousands of white Americans swarmed Reno, Nevada, to witness Jim Jeffries snatch the title away from Jack Johnson. Hailed as the “great white hope,” Jeffries said he was “going into the fight for the sole purpose of proving that a white man is better than a Negro.”

He had a captive audience.

“At ringside, a band played a popular song, ‘All Coons Look Alike to Me,’ while promoters led the mostly white crowd in chants of ‘Kill the nigger!’” Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wrote in “On the Shoulders of Giants.”

None of that fazed Johnson, who gave Jeffries a decisive whopping. But Obama may have a harder time.

Skin color still counts for a lot in this country and his remains a tough pill to swallow. Few will admit as much, the usual complaint being that Obama tries too much to look like he’s already president -- as if it’d be more appropriate for him to look like a plumber or a firefighter or a professional scuba diver.

For his part, McCain doesn’t mind being judged on his race since it matches that of every president until now. With a wink and a nod and the well-placed synonym, he has reinvented himself as a “great white hope” of modern times.

Whether he succeeds or not will prove just how modern (or not) a nation we really are.

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Invisible African is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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4 comments on The Great White Hype

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By D. E. Carson on September 01, 2008 at 12:53 am

I just love how liberals are so ready to accuse John McCain of racism and yet, not once can anyone point to a comment to prove the allegation.  Yet, Obama goes out and tells his minions that Republicans will try to scare them by saying that he doesn't look like those other presidents on the dollar bills or by saying, "oh, did we mention that he's black?"

El G is right.  Obama is where he is because he's black.  It certainly isn't because he has any credentials that qualify him to be president.  Sounds like Affirmative Action is working here too.

I'm sick and tired of blacks who feel that they are "owed" something.  This country doesn't owe anybody anything and those who cling to the past are part of the problem and not part of the solution.  Those who hang on to the past like Jesse Jackson are the real racists.  They propogate lies, half-truths and distortions to further their own agends -- namely putting money in their own pockets.  They keep brainwashing blacks into believing that whites are responsible for their lot in life.  They keep perpetuating the stereotype that blacks are supposed to hate whites because of something that ended in this country over 140 years ago.  I dare anyone to tell Condoleeza Rice or Colin Powell that they were handicapped by melanin.  I dare anyone to tell Bill Cosby or Flip Wilson that they were handicapped by melanin.  I dare anyone to tell Sammy Davis, Jr., or Syndey Poitier that they were handicapped by melanin.

Racism only exists in America because many blacks refuse to let go of the past and realize that whites frankly don't give a damn anymore.  America won't be completely rid of racism until people grow up and realize that they are where they are because of their own mindset.  I've said this before and I'll say it again.  Poverty is a choice.  America has more opportunities for success than any other nation in the world past or present.  If you don't believe me, then pack up and move to some other country and see how long it takes you to blend in with their culture and become successful there.  Between the government taking 50-75% of your income in taxes and other laws, rules and regulations making success very difficult, we'll see how long it takes you to come crawling back to America where you can make your life better in so many ways.

And the best part is that when you come crawling back to us on your hands and knees beaten like a red-headed step-child (and you will), America will welcome you back with open arms and tell you that there are no hard feelings and that you still have every opportunity to be successful.  We don't penalize you for leaving and thinking you can do better elsewhere.  I liked El G's last line: "Enough with the ode to victimhood already."  Only you can make your life better and your current lot in life is no one's fault but your own.

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By AmyO on September 01, 2008 at 01:32 pm

This article is right. There are many many Americans that WILL NOT vote for a black man because he is black, regardless of experience or whatever. Three men were arrested in Denver last week for plotting to do something to Obama because he was black and they didn't feel he should be president. If you don't think he is experienced El G and D.E. that is one thing, but it is completely naive of you both to think that is the only reason others in this country will not vote for him. 

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By D. E. Carson on September 01, 2008 at 06:22 pm

That's the beauty of the American election system.  No one has to tell anyone how he or she voted or why.  If people want to vote for Obama because he's black, I can't change that.  What I can say is that you'd better vote for or against him based on his past record in the Illinois State and US Senates and not because he's black.  The problem with your assumption is that El G is right.  Obama has put America in a very precarious position.  If he doesn't get elected, then America, as a nation, gets branded as a racist nation.  You'd be a fool not to see that.

I don't think America needs Obama as president because he has no clue about foreign policy, doesn't know how to run anything, has a voting record that sucks and thinks that the government is supposed to provide everything for you: home, job, health care and funeral.  I don't care that Obama is black.  I didn't like Hillary for the same reason I don't like Obama: she's a socialist.  Does that make me mysoginistic as well?

What really needs to happen is people need to get over this idea that if someone disagrees with Obama or is opposed to Obama, that person is somehow a racist.  Besides, I know that there are people in America who will not vote for Obama just because he's black.  I got it!  I'm not so naive that I think otherwise.  I just know that he is where he is because he is black and enough people voted for him because he is black to put him there.  Some think the idea of a black president is an idea whose time has come.  And if it is, a black man as president is fine with me -- so long as it isn't that black man.  I want my president to be qualified for the job not a rock star, messianic, Greek god who doesn't know the difference between Kansas City and St. Louis.

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By AmyO on September 01, 2008 at 09:16 pm

It doesn't make you misogynistic to not vote for Hillary and it doesn't make you a racist to not vote for Obama. I didn't want Hillary to be President even though I am a woman, because I didn't think she would do the best job.  Along the same line, I am not voting for Obama because I am afraid of being called a racist if I don't, I am voting for him because I think he would be a better president than John McCain and I support more of his ideas and policies than John McCain's. End of story. Maybe other people think differently but please don't lump me into the category of people that think being for or against Obama makes you a racist since my reasons for voting for him have nothing to do with gender or skin color. All I was saying, which is what this article was also saying, is that there are plenty of Americans out there that will not vote for him purely because he is black. 

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