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Friday, August 12, 2011

Progressives not recognizing racism in their criticism of Obama

Below is a great piece.  I made this very argument to a couple of our colleagues just yesterday.  I just heard a Rep Himes-NY remind his progressive friends of all that Obama has accomplished in 3 yrs!!!  Racism is at the base of this opposition to Obama is on the right and the left.  The Republicans and other white nationalists that have poisoned our politics.   On the other hand, these lefties blame Obama for OUR weakness.  We have lost EVERY battle: Van Jones, Acorn, Sherrod, etc.   And we would not have lost Sherrod were it not for the weakness of the NAACP.    If Barney Frank says the use of the 14th Amendment would have been an impeachable offense, Obama’s decision to make a deal was not a sign of weakness.

It is reminiscent as the author says of the Smiley/West politics of the personal. "Obama’s not black enough" (read: weak, not radical enough).    He's not Martin and He's not Malcolm.     Even though his accomplishments have been historic, he "compromises too much."  Where is the sense of politics, of governance?   He is operating in context in a racially hostile environment, an environment in which mainstream reporters on mainstream or what Ismael Reed calls the "Jim Crow media."  RGN 

Progressives don't see Obama clearly because of our racial blind spots.

The predominately white progressive intelligentsia don't see Obama clearly because of our racial blind spot. We don't see the role of race in how he seems to understand himself and how other perceive him.

The complete article  


David said...

I appreciate the concerns of an overly critical left ignoring the successes of President Obama, and indeed there are many. But we have to distinguish between legislative success and political success.

Without giving a long list of opportunities lost (and that is the kind way of putting it--we must always remember that Obama considers himself more of a Blue Dog Democrat, and that says a lot!), we can be critical of how Obama has failed to bring attention progressive moments.

A case in point is his complete absence from the recall elections in Wisconsin, narrowly lost by Democrats trying to overturn the rightward anti-union trend in that state. By all accounts it served as an indicator of popular mood and the likely success of progressive positions in 2012. Democrats needed 3, but got only 2 recalls. One was close and decided very late, and a better turnout for the Democrat would have helped. Obama clearly made no effort to campaign to help the recall effort succeed...a serious mistake.

Labor is feeling abandoned and ignored, campaign promises are not being kept (it is not whether legislation was passed, but the fact that the White House is generally silent), and there is a real risk that a major component of the grass roots effort that elected Obama will not materialize in 2012.

It is unfortunate, because for all and any shortcomings, he is the best candidate for this country. And I completely agree that much if not most of the resistance to his efforts is rooted in a history of US racism.

Without invoking Cornell West's anger, we must keep in mind that it is not disloyal to expect Obama to follow through on his promises, and to recognize that if he is given no respect he should at least take the moral high ground and stake out progressive and humane positions and make the Republicans of all ilk defend their indefensible assault on the working poor of this country.

RGN said...

You are correct that Obama has disappointed progressives. Whether the criticism is just is another matter. Should the President spend his political capital, his position as president, to do battle with a sitting governor? Do you not think that all of his opposition and much of Wisconsin's electorate would think he should butt out?