Round Two! Ding!

May 14, 2008

What *will* they think of next?

If the MSM and the Blog-stream media are to be believed, Hillary Clinton as potential president is toast, or very close to it. I don’t pretend to be an expert on the inner workings of the Democratic Party, nor do I care to underestimate Clinton’s desire to win and/or willingness to resort to technocratic fiat to make her thing happen.

But if it is true, if she is out, that means the fun is REALLY about to start. And by “fun”, I mean “steaming pile of racist horseshit”.

Not that the Clinton camp has thus far avoided racist innuendo, insult and implication. Hardly. But if Barak Obama is crowned presumptive nominee, I think we can expect to see the matter escalate to an entirely new, amazing, level of hideousness.

Because, in a way, Obama is perfect. He’s a perfect avatar for both competing strands of emergent American racism; both naive liberal color-blind racism and conservative, Islamophobic, strategically color-blind racism find a near-exact answer in Obama’s personal and political history.

Thats not entirely amazing; after all, color-blind racism is color-blind racism. They’re not so different. But it is incredible how well-suited Obama is to playing both the hero’s role for the liberals and the worst enemy of conservatives.

For blind liberals, including Obama himself, Obama represents “Hope” and “Change.” It sounds vague, but in fact, its very specific. Specifically, a quick perusal of Obama’s website makes it clear what isn’t  what isn’t expected to change: reform to create universal health care and education, a new, just, criminal justice system, investment in our crumbling infrastructure, or a reversal of the U.S.’s heretofore imperialist foreign policy.

Instead, its a hope that things have already changed, and in a specific way; Obama, as his supporters contend, “embodies” change. His mixed-race status, his “articulate” personae, his personal history that simultaneously embodies blackness but avoids a connection to the history of Black slavery in the U.S.– it all represents transcendence of DuBois’ famous “color-line.” A new post-race era of American life, and a confirmation of the progressive power of waiting around for things to improve.

Meanwhile, for conservatives, Obama manages to embody a holy trinity of enemies-under-the-bed; secret socialism, underground “Islamism” and overt (is there any other kind?) Blackness. They can use his Blackness while avoiding it–drawing (more-or-less) implicitly on anti-Black racism by attacking him for his secret political radicalism and covert association with Islam.

But Obama is neither what liberals hope for, nor what conservatives fear. He’s certainly no socialist. He’s a fairly secular Christian with an absentee dad who was a secular Muslim. At the same time, his Blackness does nothing to ameliorate the increasing social inequalities faced by working class Black people in America, even as it reflects the changing configuration of race and class politics in the U.S.

I worry that this deadly confluence of color-blindness will leave liberals unprepared to mount a response to racist right-wing attacks on an general election campaign for Obama. I worry that we’re about to find out how deep race and racism really runs in America. I worry I’m right.

I don’t wanna watch.

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One Response to “Round Two! Ding!”

  1. […] small detail is either just one turd in the coming avalanche of steaming racist horseshit, or incredibly incisive, subtle and stinging  political/cultural […]

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