Wednesday, February 7, 2007 at 12:19 PM
It is undeniable that Sen Barack Obama is an intelligent, telegenic and articulate man who espouses a refreshing and appealingly-bipartisan political agenda. Indeed, this is why – as a presidential candidate – he is almost as popular amongst Republicans as he is amongst (white) Democrats.
But it reflects the curious and internecine nature of black politics that Sen Hillary Clinton is far more popular than Obama is amongst black Americans – for whom, alas, he’s not “black enough”. Moreover, it betrays the even more curious and tenuous nature of race relations in America that white politicians bend over backwards to appease the whimsical standards of political correctness when dealing with blacks: whether it’s struggling to remember to refer to them as “African American” – since, despite their posthumous worshipping of James Brown, they’re no longer “black and proud”, or being wary of describing them as “articulate” – since they’ve now determined that this adjective is a racial epithet.
For your edification, however, here’s what this latest plea for whites to walk on eggshells to avoid being called a racist is all about:
Joe Biden is the gaffe-prone, perennial presidential candidate from Delaware who is one of the longest serving and most respected Democrats in the U.S. Senate. And, notwithstanding his foot in mouth disease, his civil rights credentials are so unassailable that no less a person than Rev Jesse Jackson has praised his bona fides in this respect.
Yet, after Biden attempted to pay Obama a compliment, in-loco-parentis blacks (and their white-liberal enablers) reacted as if he had instead spewed racial slurs at him that would have made the racist George Wallace blush. (Recall that Wallace is infamous for once paying homage to the Confederate States of America by intoning “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.”)
But you be the judge. Because here are the purportedly offensive remarks Biden made when a reporter asked him to evaluate his presidential rivals for ’08; remarks which, alas, torpedoed his presidential campaign this time around within hours after he announced his candidacy:
I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy…. I mean, that’s a storybook, man.
Now, I appreciate that some black Americans will suggests that the reason I’m hard-pressed to find anything racially insulting about this quote is because I too am not black enough. And I’m mindful that far too many blacks are impervious to facts that might render irrational or demonstrably false any charge of racial insult they assert.
Accordingly, it does not matter to these woe-is-me defenders of black (em, er, African American) pride that Biden clearly intended no insult (overt or covert). Nor does it matter that when Biden called Obama ostensibly to “explain himself and apologize” – as Jackson and Al Sharpton reportedly counseled him to do – Obama reportedly told him:
…it wasn’t necessary. We have got more important things to worry about. We have got Iraq. We have got health care. We have got energy. This is low on the list.
And that should have been the end of it: a one-day story about another Biden political faux pax; not the national ongoing racial incident it has become.
Meanwhile, what is most farcical about this furor is that if anything Biden said could reasonably be perceived as a racial insult, it would be his implication that none of the previous black presidential candidates were articulate. (And by the way, it’s fun to infer from his use of the word “clean” that Biden was implying that Sharpton and Jackson could have done with a good bath along the campaign trail. But even they know he only meant that Obama does not trade in polarizing racial politics like they do to seem relevant, which, undeniably, is as refreshing for many blacks as Biden implies it is for whites).
Whereas, in fact, even though they may not have been as “mainstream” as Obama clearly is, previous black candidates have invariably been amongst the most articulate contenders for president since Shirley Chisholm’s pioneering run 35 years ago. And I have no doubt that before some overzealous politically-correct police framed this charge against Biden, referring to Chisholm and the others as articulate would have been taken as a self-evident truth; i.e., a warranted and generally accepted compliment.
Therefore, I hope I can disabuse black people of the fool’s game of parsing the race-neutral things white people say to find their coded racist intent. Because, like Obama said (before his political operatives prevailed upon him to issue a statement feigning politically-correct offense at Biden’s remarks): “we have got more important things to worry about.” (But one more John Kerryesque flip flop like this and I’m making Ralph Nader my Hobson’s choice…again.)
Finally, white people please be advised: Calling a black person a Nigger is racially offensive! Describing one of us as articulate is not. (Frankly, I pity the fool who thinks being called “articulate” is an insult.) And, for the record, most of us don’t give a damn what racist thoughts you may have in mind when you pay us a compliment….