The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Thursday, December 21, 2006

My Obama NPR piece...

On Obama…Got lots of mail on my NPR Obama piece, some of it quite abusive in rather amusing ways. Most are polite, but interesting to analyze:

Here’s a typical one: “Obama is a typical liberal and we do not see that he brings anything new to the national discussion. We are highly pleased, however, to read that there is a recognition that anyone "can become anything" regardless of race. M. Jones”

May I comfortably assume that this person is a Conservative? Yes, I think so. If one looks at the way people have been responding to this man, it is because they consider him unusually forthright, upfront, and exceptionally intelligent. If that is the “typical liberal” the Left would be doing better than it is. Heck, that’s not the typical anything.

More interesting is the second sentence, the writer being please that “there is a recognition that anyone can become anything regardless of race.” Really? That certainly wasn’t in my piece. However, that attitude is necessary to function on the Right, I would think. If you didn’t think the playing field was roughly even (or as even as human beings can make it) the average moral, decent person would want to level that field—which would of course imply social engineering, which, in this context, is pretty much anathema to the Right. No, they have to believe that. They pretty desperately cling to any evidence that the legacy of slavery is irrelevant…just as hard-left types often cling to the idea that the legacy of slavery is impossible to overcome without assistance. My point of view on this, is that the average white person, born with black skin, would probably do about 10-20% worse in life than they currently are. That unless they want to tell me they've mastered their bodies, relationships AND careers simultaneously, they're kidding themselves that they would have avoided the rationalizations and self-pity so easy to fall into when you have real, genuine obstacles. Of course many black people have succeeded--more all the time. But (from my point of view) it eats up about 10-20% of your juice just overcoming the cultural obstacles.

Interesting.I got another piece of e-mail, particularly hateful, but the most polite comment was something to the effect of “when are [black people] going to stop talking about things that happened a hundred and fifty years ago? What does that have to do with today?”

Well, its Christmas season and all, and I don’t want to be a Scrooge, but when White people stop turning somersaults about events that happened two thousand years ago in the Middle East, Black people might be able to forget what happened just three or four generations ago. It is in the nature of people to look into their past for answers about their present. Everyone does it—whether individuals, or groups. Pretending otherwise is just dishonest.

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