Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The White Stuff

One of the joys of living in a liberal campus town is talking to white liberals about the issues that animate them. Of late, it's been Jeremiah Wright who, as I'm sure you know, is not very popular among the pale, NPR crowd, what with his insane rambling about American "terror" and reminders of institutional racism. I heard more of this lib anguish yesterday while chatting about the primaries with a local Dem I see now and then. He just couldn't understand why black people would be upset about their history and present condition, given that Barack Obama may be the first African-American president.

Of course, the guy is an Obama supporter, which apparently gives him the freedom to question the motivations of blacks who complain just a bit too much about racism. Stop whining and assimilate!, he more or less told them through me. White people are sick and tired of listening to your crap! It was an astonishing moment, as I had not until that instant guessed that this guy harbored such feelings. But it further underlines my belief that Obama is the perfect candidate for race-challenged liberals, since Obama makes them comfortable in their grayish-pink skins, and does not pester them with tales of racism and oppression. This will become more evident now that Obama has nailed down the nomination.

Naturally, those white libs who scoff at the very idea of institutional racism, especially the kind that may implicate them, will have no problem branding McCain as an old, race-baiting reactionary. That's perfectly fine (although it is remarkable how far McCain's stock has fallen among liberals, given that less than a decade ago, he was perhaps their favorite Repub). Indeed, it's why many of them conflate Rev. Wright with nutjobs like John Hagee -- in their world, you have to be crazy to cry about conditions that don't affect them. I saw it on that liberal's face yesterday when I defended some of Wright's statements. He closed his eyes and made snoring noises, then smirked and waved away arguments he had no desire to rebut. I was a bit surprised by this, but I really shouldn't have been. The only way Obama carries a large white vote in November is by letting his white supporters off the historical hook. There are worse electoral strategies, but few carry such extremely smug, self-flattering baggage.