I guess what amazes me the most is that Indiana went for Obama. Indiana, which in the 1920s had “the largest, most enthusiastic, and most politically powerful Klan in the country.” Indiana, where I went to high school in the 1980s with active robe-wearing Klansmen. Indiana, home of the Humanoid Artifact. Indiana, which hasn’t gone for a Democrat in my lifetime.

This just blows my mind.

As for Louisiana, it’s astonishing and a bit sickening that we went for McCain in such a big way. After the Katrina debacle, this state should have punished the Republicans harshly.

It’s a long way from now until the inauguration. I’m sure there are some crazy racists out there who would do anything to prevent the “darkening” of the Oval Office. I know many people are praying already for Obama’s safety. I can only hope the Secret Service is up to the task.

McCain’s concession was gracious. But I couldn’t help but notice the spin on what Obama’s victory means.

Let there be no reason now for any American to fail to cherish their citizenship in this, the greatest nation on Earth.

Contrast this with Obama’s words:

If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

Similar sentiments but a very different spin. For McCain, all these racial injustices are in the past, so we should shut up and quit whining about equality. This will be the refrain from the hard right in the days and months ahead.

Now pardon me while I celebrate with my co-workers. As you might imagine, today’s a happy day to be working at an historically black college.

  1. We were all shocked that Indiana turned blue, the last time was 1964 I believe. I think it has to do with the sheer amount of times he came and visited us and other typically “blue” areas of the state.

    He also ran a superb campaign, which is what I like to see.

    Shockingly, the presidential race was the only major race to switch to democrat. Our republican govenor won a 2nd term (I voted for him).

  2. “all this racial injustices are in the past, so we should shut up and quit whining about equality. This will be the refrain from the hard right in the days and months ahead.”

    Don’t you think all of America is ready to put this in the past, B, not just the so-called hard right? Don’t you think there are non-bigoted people who are ready for us to be a single country?

    And don’t you think a country where a third of the population was born a quarter century after Civil Rights Act happened, don’t you think that young country is ready for change, hope, and all the rest–to close the chapter and start a new one?

    Granted, the USA is a large country, and these things vary from place to place. But just consider that one does not need to be a racist to want to be able to finally move on from the past which one had no part in, was born after, whose family came here recently, etc. And that doesn’t mean the person is some hard-right dude, either (whatever that means…a desire for lower marginal tax rates means you’re…um…a bigot???).

  3. Garvey, of course we’d all love to be living in a post-racial country and a post-racial world. The sad truth is we’re not. Wishing doesn’t make it so.

    And of course being a fiscal conservative doesn’t mean one is a bigot, but as part of jockeying for political advantage the right will take the line I predicted.

  4. OK, B, wishing doesn’t make it so. What does, then? I mean, if this doesn’t turn the page, even a little, what hope is there?

    I’m talking about societal mores, not govt actions.

    To be honest, your location impacts your perception, as does mine. Charlotte is a very “New South,” post-racial place in many, many ways. And I like that.

  5. B is absolutely right. We are not living in a post-racial country and it is very sad. When 96% of a race votes one way, we have not transcended racism. We will only truly have become a color blind society when we can vote, not according to the color of one’s skin, but on the merits of the candidate.

  6. “After the Katrina debacle, this state should have punished the Republicans harshly.”

    Let’s blame everything on the Republicans. By the way, the above sentence ruins the sentiment of your entire entry for me.

  7. Garvey, of course Obama’s election does turn the page, as you say, “a little.” Maybe even more than a little, who knows? Clearly we are making progress on this front, but I distinguish between progress toward a goal and success upon having reached it. We are making progress. There is plenty of reason for hope.

    Obama’s election does not indicate that our race and class issues are now entirely and forever behind us. But that’s exactly what some will say. McCain said it last night. Limbaugh is probably saying it right now. Obama did not say it.

    Note also that Obama had to campaign as a post-racial candidate in order to win, but that does not mean we have entered a post-racial utopia. The hard facts of painful racial disparities in evidence yesterday will still be with us tomorrow, and after the inauguration.

  8. I mean, people of African descent have been in the US practically as long as European descendants. The fact that it took 400 years for one to become head of state (among of facts) should not be considered at all, at least according to the WSJ.

  9. FWIW, the whole post-racial business was brought up first, and promised by, liberal media, not conservative.

    http://www.tnr.com/politics/story.html?id=907272c4-54db-4fba-9149-e95b7293d6a0
    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=18489466
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/03/14/AR2008031401072_pf.html
    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/30/opinion/30williams.html?pagewanted=print
    http://allafrica.com/stories/200806090142.html

    ETC.

    So before y’all get tennis elbow from patting yourselves on the backs for being so “clever,” this is not some new, right-wing narrative but a continuation of a very well-worn, left-wing narrative.

  10. Since most of black voters voted for Obama simply because of his race, to me that is racist. Just as bad as a white person saying they voted for McCain because he is white.

    What is post-racial about that?

    Nothing.

    Just reverse racism is all.

  11. Some context from your cherry-picking, B:

    “While Mr. Obama lost among white voters, as most modern Democrats do, his success is due in part to the fact that he also muted any politics of racial grievance. We have had in recent years two black Secretaries of State, black CEOs of our largest corporations, black Governors and Generals — and now we will have a President. One promise of his victory is that perhaps we can put to rest the myth of racism as a barrier to achievement in this splendid country. Mr. Obama has a special obligation to help do so.”

    But remember, a post-racial country isn’t just one devoid of all the white liberal guilt. It goes to everyone. To wit, in the Indiana primary, “29% of blacks told exit pollsters that the candidate’s race was important to them” yet in NC “12% of whites said the candidate’ s race mattered to them. Strikingly, of these, fully a third backed Mr Obama.” (from http://www.economist.com/world/unitedstates/PrinterFriendly.cfm?story_id=11332201)

    So that “judging people by the content of their character” door swings both ways…

  12. Thank the dogs we have blog comments to work out complicated issues of race, class, and politics in America. Finally a venue to debate these substantive ideas without the discomfort of physical proximity and that darned relationship building thing.

  13. To deliberate incessantly about this topic is highly questionable in itself. Let’s move on people. Forget about proving your points. I don’t care what links you dig up. It’s done. Let’s turn that page.

  14. I’m a little worried. Except for me boldly proclaiming in the halls of my department that “there is a Black Man in the White House!” all was very quiet. Its an awareness I have had but have really wanted not to believe for a long time.

  15. Garvey, recognizing character has never been the black man’s issue. There have been many white men and women who have demonstrated their character when harboring fugitive slaves. The problem with America is in accepting a man of character in all aspects of life who is black. Character goes without saying but being Black must be acknowledged for America to truly heal.

  16. Most people who consider NPR, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the New Republic “liberal” media are conservatives.

    It’s presumptuous to assume that blacks voted for Obama solely because of race, presumptuous to the point of being a bigoted attempt to dismiss the value of their vote. Blacks have always overwhelmingly voted for Democrats, because they have much better political sense than most white people.

    In general, I think too much is made of the “race is important” statistic. Something’s being important is not the same as being decisive or singular.

  17. Racism is what America has to face. Until it does, it will divide the country. It is central to our survival. There’s no getting around, under or over it. When I see 15 year olds with hate in their sneers, I know it’s going to take a while. Good comments all around.

  18. David–you’re correct. That big right-winger herself, Camile Paglia, was onto something here: “What is this morbid obsession that liberals have with Fox? It’s as if Democrats, pampered and spoiled by so many decades of the mainstream media trumpeting the liberal agenda, are so shaky in their convictions that they cannot risk an encounter with opposing views. Democrats have ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, the New York Times, Newsweek, Time and 98 percent of American humanities professors to do their bidding. But no, that’s not enough — every spark of dissent has to be extinguished with buckets of bile.”

    –Camile Paglia (Salon, “Hillary vs. Obama: It’s a drawl!” March 14, 2007)

    Seriously, dude, get out of your echo chamber. I mean, even TNR isn’t left-wing? That would be news to them.

    @ Tony: I am not saying we *are* a post-racial country by providing links: I am simply showing that this storyline is a leftwing one. If anything, the rightwing press is late to the party.

  19. @ Marion: I agree with what you’re saying, but I have not personally heard one criticism of Obama based on how much melanin he has. Not one. Is his character deficient in many, many areas? A lot of people would say yes. For me, his actions with BAIPA will always affect my view of his character, or lack thereof. Or his immediately turning his back on his good friend and mentor for 20 years. He had every opportunity to show backbone, and he didn’t. He let his friends twist in the wind to get elected. Character is defined by the choices you make, and he chose his ambition over his friendships.

  20. Just about all of what passes for discourse on the internet is of this “it’s white!” — “no, it’s black!” variety, when the analog reality is a shade of gray.

    “racism is behind us now” is just as wrong a “ours is a racist country (ever, still)”. And what is “racism”, anyway? Is it an absolute condition–“you are, but I’m not”, a congenital defect that some are saddled with (and therefore not responsible for, right?)? The word is so overused as to have lost a common meaning. I think it’s just another prejudice among prejudices that we gain through life experience. We are all racists. We are, black or white, every time we talk about it.

    Can you imagine a post-racial world? Is there a path to it? If we ever get there, we’ll have to talk about something else. We got closer on Tuesday, for sure. I voted for Mr. Obama (my major party-first) because I thought he was best for the job. He stood nearly alone to vote against the most stupid thing this country has ever done. He conducted a campaign that was a masterpiece of organization and class.

    His brilliant pragmatism portends a competent executive leadership that is just the ticket for these times (we ought to demand this in fat times, too). But if he should fail to deliver on this promise, black or not (and “black”, especially in his case, is another mushy word), he must be gone. It would be racist to do otherwise.

  21. i’ve been reading nola blogs for years now. All these comments are well thought out all the way around. finally an open discussion without all the mud slinging and name calling. how refreshing.
    nice job folks.

  22. The fact that salon.com publishes some of Paglia’s writing does not change the fact that she’s an apologist for a lot things that are hardly liberal or progressive, like certain sexist behaviors and, as Garvey cites, Fox News. The fact that she considers mainstream news “liberal” means nothing. All one has to do is review those outlets’ coverage of the build up to the Iraq war to realize just how eager they were to take their talking points from the Bush administration.

    The New Republic is among that group. Garvey’s right that many do consider TNR “liberal.” I’d invite anyone who does so to consider this cogent criticism of them entitled The New Republic syndrome.

    Where the mainstream media rubs against the right is when they report on certain facts. Some of these facts are based in science, like the nature of evolution and the reality of global climate change. Other facts concern our society, like the fact that certain classes of people are human beings and as such are entitled to human rights. Initially, these classes included minorities but have since expanded to homosexuals. Stephen Colbert, a well known “right wing” pundit, once pointed out, “Facts have a well known liberal bias.” When mainstream media reports the facts, it bothers conservatives. When mainstream media reports falsehoods, like we’re at imminent risk of being nuked by Saddam, then, in the conservatives’ eyes, they’re doing their job.

    In lieu of facts, the conservative media responds with bluster. Indeed that’s the modus operandi of Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, Ann Colter. The list is too long to type. What’s interesting is how that anger spills into interactions with lay people. Garvey’s reliable sarcasm, noted by others, is certainly consistent with that hostility.

  23. Hey, Garvey, I’m not sure how to respond to you or even if I should respond. If taken in a friendly manner, the links you cite might be seen to extend and expand my analysis. Part of the appeal of Obama’s campaign was the promise, implicit or otherwise, to move us in the direction of progress on the racial issue. Now that he’s won, part of the reaction is to exaggerate that progress and say the racial issue is now solved or at least moot. I find that fascinating.

  24. @B: I agree w/ your post. My links were only to say that the meme of post-racialism was a leftwing one, not some brand-spankin’-new rightwing one, which is what I thought you were implying.

    @David: I’ll own up to the sarcasm. But your logic has more holes than swiss cheese. I mean, one’s “liberalness” can *only* be determined by one’s stance on Iraq. Yawn. Your derivative, “angry left” rants bore me. Get back to me when you have a job and pay taxes.

  25. Further evidence of racial script-flipping: Before the election Palin enjoyed a good deal of white privilege. She was “folksy.” Now she’s being called a hillbilly — by McCain staffers no less.

  26. Garvey,

    Thank you for acknowledging that you use sarcasm in lieu of facts. Given that you acknowledged your hostility, it’s interesting that you found my last post angry, especially in light of your own posts.

    Regarding the reporting about the war, the loved ones of the dead and maimed in the Iraq war, a number which is in the millions, probably wouldn’t yawn over the inaccurate reporting that enabled the war during its build-up. Everyday, they live with the cost exacted, in part, because the Fourth Estate exchanged their duty for expediency and ideology.

  27. I wonder what has to be done to finally “solve” the “racial issue.” Is it even possible to get to a point where we can proclaim that racism is a thing of the past? I’m thinking probably not but Obama’s rise to the presidency of the United States is getting pretty close–at least for charges that racism is systemic.

  28. Big questions, Zoe, and I applaud them. Big, difficult questions. I wish I could feel we’re getting close. I’d say look at certain statistics: the death rate and incarceration rate of young black men, for example. I think most reasonable people would agree, regardless of politics, that those numbers indicate a big systemic problem. It’s in the interpretation of root causes that politics creeps in and opinions diverge. Obama’s election represents progress on the front of what might be called “personal” racism. Obviously a large number of Americans are not afraid to vote for a black man, and that’s great. However, structural and systemic issues remain. Obama escaped some of that; he was raised by a white woman, after all. It’s much more difficult to envision a president coming out of some of the public schools in New Orleans, for example. I’m afraid to say I feel the issue of broad racial disparities will not be completely resolved anytime soon. But we must do our best to move in that direction.

  29. B, your response tells me that you are not sure what events need to take place before we can say racism is behind us. What would a racism-free world look like? Hard to say, I know.

    Certainly Obama’s election to the presidency represents progress on the front of “individual” or personal racism. Whites did not block vote for a candidate that looked like them, unlike the 96% (some estimates say 99%) of blacks. But you must consider Obama’s, and Michelle’s for that matter, successes up to the point where he was actually nominated (and with less experience than most any previous white candidates). Systemic racism would have prevented his natural talents and abilities from reaching their potential while any racism he faced from individuals would have been powerless to stop him. While there may not be a president from the public schools of New Orleans (yet!), there are numerous successful black CEOs, professors, doctors, lawyers, etc., that have come from ghetto beginnings.

    I would not attribute the death rate and incarceration rate of young black men to systemic racism unless you would call the welfare state and lowered expectations for blacks a kind of latent racism. I think it is fair to consider that it is possible, just maybe, that the root causes of the destruction of the black family since the civil rights era may not have anything to do with racism, but with failed, albeit good-intentioned, governmental policies. As you say, the root causes of the problems within the black community can be interpreted differently.

  30. “It’s in the interpretation of root causes that politics creeps in and opinions diverge.”

    True dat.

    For example, I’d say that based on all indicators, the Great Society did more damage than help (e.g., black poverty fell *before* the GS and skyrocketed after, as did single parent homes, etc.: these data exist). So my interpretation of root causes is affected by my politics–that people should be protected *from* the state, not “served” by it. The GS data are shocking, really.

    And to further that example, it makes me think that those who wish for MORE govt interventionism are simply loons. Why on earth should we continue things that patently do not work? Because doing so makes white liberals feel good about themselves? That’s not really a reason.

  31. It’s not a topic I’ve studied, but from the Historical poverty charts on this Census site (sp. “Table 2. Poverty Status of People by Family Relationship, Race, and Hispanic
    Origin: 1959 to 2006 – BLACKS”), it looks to me like you are wrong. “Below poverty rate” percentage: 1966 – 41.8% by 1970 – 33.5% and by 1974 – 30.3%- it generally stays in that general range before climbing in the early 80s – then dropping in the 90s to 22.5% in 2000.

    I don’t think one statistic can tell the whole story on a subject like this, but I’d say we all, left/right/off the charts, need to be self aware of how are emotional attachments to a solution (or lack thereof) frame how we view things. For my own part, I know government programs have made tremendous differences in millions of lives, but there is a definite problem with bureaucracies that can end up protecting their turf over performing their intended function. That’s why I like the idea of those who want to throw a government program at an issue having to duke it out and compromise with those who want to limit them as much as possible. Ideally the competing sides can keep each other honest, though I wouldn’t say it’s worked that way lately.

  32. Economist Dr. Thomas Sowell does a good job at hashing through the poverty stats. He’s done so in his books and reiterated the analysis in his columns. e.g., http://www.capmag.com/article.asp?ID=3864

    “The poverty rate among black families fell from 87 percent in 1940 to 47 percent in 1960, during an era of virtually no major civil rights legislation or anti-poverty programs. It dropped another 17 percentage points during the decade of the 1960s and one percentage point during the 1970s, but this continuation of the previous trend was neither unprecedented nor something to be arbitrarily attributed to the programs like the War on Poverty.

    In various skilled trades, the incomes of blacks relative to whites more than doubled between 1936 and 1959 — that is, before the magic 1960s decade when supposedly all progress began. The rise of blacks in professional and other high-level occupations was greater in the five years preceding the Civil Rights Act of 1964 than in the five years afterwards.

    While some good things did come out of the 1960s, as out of many other decades, so did major social disasters that continue to plague us today. Many of those disasters began quite clearly during the 1960s.

    But what are mere facts compared to a heady vision?”

  33. Interesting – it’s a complicated process and something I’d like to learn more about.. But I’m definitely not seeing a ‘skyrocketing’ of poverty you spoke of in either source, the Census or Sowell.
    When it comes to single parent households, pinning all the blame on the Great Society seems a bit oversimplified, don’t you think? Given the context of an enormous societal values shift to the individual over the community, I’d say the causality there is way more complex than a set of government programs.

  34. I was wrong about the skyrocketing poverty. But crime, “illegitimacy,” single parent homes all skyrocketed. I’m not sure if the data support causality, but there is definitely correlation.

    I would agree that you are absolutely correct that it is complex. None of these issues exist in a vacuum.

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