I have to admit that even I, someone who normally doesn't care what people might think of me for speaking my mind, am often hesitant to wade into this subject. But it unfortunately will not go away, and the subject requires -- for good or ill -- a deeper dialogue. Really, what it requires more than anything, is a closer scrutiny of some of its more vocal advocates and their underlying motivations -- or at least an examination of their pathology. Someone is going to be offended by this post, but there are larger issues beyond just mere offense in this debate.
Cornell West says Obama isn't Black Enough.
I stopped listening to Cornell West...oh...about five seconds after I first heard him speak some 30-odd years ago. It wasn't worth the effort, because the man is a one-trick pony and his solitary schtick is "White people suck and they owe me" which, you have to admit, is probably great for selling books or getting yourself on television, but as a philosophy or governing principle by which to live your life leaves an awful lot to be desired.
What, pray tell, would Professor West ever do if all this imaginary racism he sees dried up? What would one do with all that free time? Considering that Professor West is dumber than a sack of dog crap and probably too set in his ways to change careers, I can imagine he'd find some new target for all his old stupidity. He’d maybe just find a new target for all of his old nonsense and take up anti-Semitism as a full-time job. Same Full-Strength Bullshit, Brand New Package. I can just see the new-and-improved Cornell West Show already:
"The Jews suck and they owe me".
It worked for Al Sharpton, you know.
And if the inhabitants of Jesse Jackson's Hymietown should ever cough up a few bucks, it'll be on to "Native Americans suck, and they own casinos; someone give me some free poker chips and comp me a t-bone!"
It doesn't seem to matter just who sucks in Professor West's worldview, just as long as someone pays him for either pointing it out, or better yet, just to shut him up and make him go away. I'm sure that according to the Good Professor that Ronald Reagan sucked, so too George Bush (both of them). I'm petty confident that if you searched West's writings and rantings, you'd find that Bill Clinton must have sucked at some time, as well (that's when Monica wasn't sucking, of course -- anyone remember the first First Black President?), Jimmy Carter was probably a Plantation-owning Cracker, LBJ the next best thing to Massah. So why shouldn't Barack Obama, in his own way, suck, as well? The hatred stems not so much from the Man, as it does from West's requirement that Black America must always have an adversary. You would think that with the elevation of Obama to the White House (that name is raaaaacist!) a Brother could get paid to shut up and go away, already!
Because that’s how you score brownie points with a Cornell West: you pay him to go away.
I believe the real underlying motivation behind West's criticism of Obama, not to mention that of a slew of other prominent African-Americans, is the subject of Reparations for Slavery. Professor West, and a great many others, can never come out and say as much because if they did they would subject themselves to increased scrutiny, and a ton of criticism and approbation (which should only be reserved for White People in his little universe) that will ultimately cause them to fail in their quest. The virulent emotional aspects of their arguments will always be overcome by the disinfectant of open debate. If that debate truly begins, the logical and reasonable case for Reparations (are there any?) runs into the foes it cannot defeat: facts, logic, legalities, the Constitution. The Cornell Wests of the world know this to be true in the same way they know that 100 follows 99, but actual success on this front is not the important part; the truly vital component of this debate is that it should continue strictly for it's own sake, because this is how people like Cornell West earn their livings. If the Blue-Eyed Devils ever actually paid up, then Cornell West might have to find himself a real job.
Many subjects in modern American Life are handled in exactly the same fashion. Cornell West has a vested interest in stirring up racial animosity and extorting other people's money in the same way that the Feminists have a vested interest in insisting that a 5' 2" 105-pound woman makes an excellent firefighter, infantryman, or high-steel worker. The Poverty Lobby has an interest in keeping people poor by denigrating the value of work, or by encouraging dependency, otherwise tens of thousands of government workers (an oxymoron) would have to compete for salaries in the private sector, and find themselves at a distinct disadvantage. The money, the fame, the attention, the political clout, comes not from achieving measurable success or proving theory to be correct, but from continuing to excuse and justify failure. Success, then, becomes a matter of how long you can continue to beat the same dead horses and still make a buck out of it.
Remember the heady days of post-election 2008, when your television screens were full of people all hopped up on Hopenchange, and pumped by Yes We Can? Remember the subtexts of the Obama Victory Orgy:
"Barack Obama is gonna pay my mortgage and put gas in my car!"
"Finally, we have someone who will pay attention to the African-American community in the White House!"
"Barack Obama will heal the racial divide in this country"
"Barack Obama is gonna spread the wealth around."
Until, of course, he does no such thing, and the folks who made some of these comments, or wrote the Tingle-up-the-leg-inducing speeches, realize that the Reality of Obama is nothing like the Promise of Obama.
Really, how do you 'heal the racial divide' when you're called 'unauthentically black' by the likes of Cornell West? Doesn't that tell you that even people who make their living railing against the evils of racism truly have no desire to see it ever go away?
Let's put this on the table: I dislike Barack Obama. I don't dislike him because I think he's a bad man, I just think he conned his way into Office and had nary a clue, nor workable solutions, for the problems this country faces. He didn't create the mess we're in, but he hasn't done much more than to ensure that which was knee deep has at least now reached our collective waistline. The first indications that Barack Obama was not prepared for this job (and let's be fair: who the hell is under such circumstances?) were his practice of announcing broad policy goals and then leaving others (lots of others) to hammer out the often-competing-and-contradictory details -- that's how we got a 2,000 page healthcare bill that no one, still, has read -- and all the time he spent in his first two years avoiding the job as if it came with a case of full-blown AIDS. Obama can do (often bad) ideas, he just lousy at execution (unless you’re Osama Bin Laden).
That's how you get Stimulus that hasn't stimulated anything, and for which the only thing 'shovel ready' was the Stimulus Plan itself. Obama’s policies are how you got nationalized banks and automobile companies, and a 9-plus–percent-and-persistent unemployment rate. You get $5 trillion in new debt in just two years, and a Federal Reserve that’s just printing cash like Monopoly Money. A devalued dollar, falling exports; the only thing that’s rising these days seems to be people’s bile. Not to mention that we seem to have a President who's always someplace else when there's an oil spill or plague of tornados, who doesn't do the Presidential Inspection-and-Sympathy Tour in the Aftermat. He, rightfully, deserves some criticism.
But not of this kind, nor this vicious. And the criticism from some quarters has little to do with real problems or solutions, and everything to do with who gets what, and when the hell is it coming? Cornell West can't say this, but you just KNOW he's thinking it every time he opens his piehole.
Barack Obama is caught in a classic "Damned if you Do and Damned if You Don't" dilemma. The expression comes from the days of the Salem Witch trials, when a bunch of insane religious zealots (sorry, that’s redundant) started killing each other because God told them to, I guess. It's funny how God keeps telling people to kill each other despite all that crap about "Thou shall not kill...", but that's beside the point. One of the ways one could supposedly tell whether the accused was truly a witch was to bind her up in a burlap sack, suitably stuffed with stones, and then toss her into a pond. If she floated, she was a witch, and therefore, to be burned at the stake or hung. If she didn't, well, you get the idea...
President Frequent-Flyer-Miles is in sort of the same shoes. If he openly espouses a program of Reparations (a popular idea for some in the dingbat wing of the Civil Rights Peanut Gallery), then he's unelectable in 2012, or probably ever again, and then truly cements his place in History as an even worse President than Jimmy Carter. If Obama plots a more moderate, deliberate, incremental course, then he's a traitor to his race (the Black one, not the White One, curiously enough), a foot-dragger who alienates the voters he needs to stay in power, who will then stay home in huge numbers two Novembers from now.
One could make the argument that Obama has already begun the process of paying Reparations, but for political purposes he just can't call it Reparations.Then again, some people are too dumb to notice that which is right in front of their nose unless it itches or causes them physical pain. Reparations are where you find them, though you sometimes have to look a little harder than you normally would. The reason why Obama's Reparations-in-Effect-Without-the-Name are so hard to discern is because the policies often have secondary political motivations that can't be openly discussed without giving the game away, and since President Obama seems to have so little personal, hands-on time invested in his own ‘policies’, he probably doesn't even realize it himself.
Cash for Clunkers? A form of Reparations, with the added benefit that the secondary market in used car parts is destroyed, thus forcing people to buy government-owned GM's new 'green vehicles' when they can't keep Old Paint on the road any longer. Good for ‘The Poor’ who may have never owned a New Car before in their lives (amazing, our ‘Poor’ have privately-owned automobiles, even if they are secondhand ones!) and keeps the Watermelon Environmentalists (Green on the Outside, Red on the Inside) happy…or at least quiet, since most environMENTALists can never be happy short of every human being on Planet Earth dying.
Tax credit for first-time home buyers in a down housing market with a glut of inventory and impossible credit requirements? Reparations -- with the added benefit that millions that missed the days of easy-credit, no-money-down, no-points, government-insured home loans get one last bite at the apple...before they eventually default, too (which makes them eligible for the next program, see below). By then, it's hoped, the problem – millions of more people with upside-down mortgages, demanding relief -- will have been dumped back into some Republican's lap, and the Democrats have a campaign issue for 2016.
Mortgage renegotiation schemes that are intended to wear the banks out with legal fees until they just give the damned house away because it's cheaper than paying lawyers? Reparations. And by the way, if you signed a contract without first reading it, obtaining professional legal advice, or without realizing that something is fishy when a bank wants to give you $250,000 to buy more house than you can afford when you only make $40,000 a year, you aren't a 'victim of predatory lenders', you're a fucking idiot.
ObamaCare? Reparations, with the bonus that it will probably kill enough (elderly) people at the upper end so as to fund itself at the lower, and make democratic party voters for life out of millions of illegal immigrants when Amnesty (disguised as Comprehensive Immigration reform) finally passes. If you think the entry-level job market is tough for African-American males now, just wait until 12-15 million illegal border-crossers can now work legally while continuing to undercut wages, and get taxpayer-funded open-heart surgery, to boot.
"Investments" in Education? Reparations. Because after all, everyone deserves a worthless grammar school education, and then a High School Diploma you can’t even read, followed by a free bachelor's degree in Gender Studies, Ebonics, Lesbian Latina Dwarf Literature, Medieval Plumbing, Gay Astrophysics, Holistic Basket Weaving, Conflict Resolution, Environmentally-safe Gun Repair, and World Peace from only the finest Community Colleges, as these are the real jobs of the 21st Century, and it keeps the Teacher's Unions, College Professors, and Professional Grievance Mongers who are the Democratic party elite happy, too.
Green Energy Jobs? Reparations -- only in a more subtle form: the idea is to dispose of excess wealth, resources, and labor without actually increasing anyone's standard of living. If we can't all be made equally rich, we'll at least all be made equally poor. One might as well bake millions of loaves of bread and then run them over with a steam roller, catch herring by the billions only to dump them back into the sea, or build one million skyscrapers and then set fire to them, for all the good Green Energy does.
And every Obama Policy seems to have this duality about it. It’s why the man can never explain just what any particular policy is supposed to achieve, and why every few weeks he has to go to some staged event before a hand-picked crowd (probably all given free drinks beforehand) to pound his Bully Pulpit over, and over, and over, and over; Obama talking to autoworkers in Peoria. Obama talking to firefighters in Cleveland. Obama talking to teachers in East Woody-Buttfuck. The speech is always the same one; only the Potemkin Village ever changes.
The problem for people like West is that such policies don't put cash directly into someone's hand -- definitely not his -- so that they are made obvious, and they often have benefits for other groups which either cannot be avoided, or which were deliberately intended for political purposes. West's beef is that he believes that having achieved the highest office in the land, a Black President should be A BLACK PRESIDENT, and screw everyone else, and that Barack Obama should cease to be that which he is: a politician.
And when Obama doesn't come through in the manner in which the Cornell Wests expect -- Obama doesn't sign checks, he doesn't rail against the "injustice and inequality of the system" even when it isn't there, he doesn't attack the "White Power Structure" directly and forcefully, he isn't acting overtly "Black" enough to suit West's tastes -- then there must be something wrong. And, naturally, because people like West still live in the 1950's and haven't realized this is the 21st century where reality reigns supreme and the romantic notions of class and race struggle have largely been thrown back onto the dustheap of history where they belong, it must be because Barack Obama is a either a puppet of Wall Street, or a self-hating House Negro.
West’s rhetoric is straight out of the 50’s and 60’s, maybe because that’s where his head is too. Well, at least that’s where his head is when it isn’t firmly-and-smugly lodged up his own ass.
The Pot calls the Kettle Un-Black -- for lack of a check -- and then demands to be taken seriously? And that's before we even get into West's seriously-flawed and antiquated brand of politics (we'll leave that discussion for another day, perhaps?).
The problem with Barack Obama, from West's pint of view, is that he isn't handing out money on street corners while we still have some left to hand out, and the hand outs that are being given aren't being given directly and solely to African-American recipients in an openly brazen fashion . There's no "In Your Face!" factor like you would expect a real and open program of Reparations to contain.
No Cash and No Flash.
I'm quite possibly being a bit harsh on the Professor, and maybe simplifying what to him (because he's a doofus) is a subtly more complex question, I may be ascribing motivations to him that I can only tenuously prove, at best, but I don't think I'm being unfair. I figure that when a man starts throwing out insults and making arguments that can't stand up to the least bit of scrutiny then there must be questions of money, prestige, or influence, at stake. I learned this in my first week on Wall Street. The first rule of Management is "Never be in the room when a decision is made", and the second one was always "When it doesn't make any sense, find out who's getting/not getting paid."
As to the question of Reparations; no one is getting any from me, if I can help it. My family came here at the turn of the last century -- after Abolition and Reconstruction -- we didn't come here on the Mayflower, we never owned a plantation, we never owned a slave, thank you very much. I don't believe in the silly leftist idea that guilt spans both generations and racial lines. So far as I'm concerned, I owe no one anything. The Past is the Past, and if you're still angry at having once had to sit at the back of the bus, then I cordially invite you to come to the front ...and stand with the rest of us.
I distrust the words and question the motivations of people like Cornell West who have milked these often-painful issues like a prized dairy cow to make themselves rich, famous and influential without improving the lives of anyone they claim to be helping in any measurable way. Cornell West is a load of hot air with a PhD.