Freedom Rider: White America is Crazy for Obama

Obama supporters want him to be their man, even when he tells them that he isn’t.

Barack Obama drives white people crazy, some because of love and some because of hate. Pundits and politicians have lost their collective minds because a black man has a chance to be president. Psychotic episodes and outbreaks of foot in mouth disease are spreading faster than bird flu, all because of Barack Obama.

Racism, like a familiar refrain, is the cause of much of the madness. New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is the latest Clinton supporter to experience political Tourette’s Syndrome in regard to Barack Obama. “You can’t shuck and jive at a press conference. . .,” Cuomo said with a straight face. He tried to backpedal by saying he meant “bob and weave.” Such is the effect that a black face has on the lizard brain that still prevails among much of white America.

Hillary Clinton’s white feminist supporters experience their own Obama-related mental breakdowns. In a New York Times op-ed Gloria Steinem tried to defend her support for Clinton by saying that Obama is not as well qualified but instead gets a pass because he is a man. She claims that women have it harder than men of any race, and by way of explanation pointed out that women did not have the right to vote in America until 1920, fifty years after constitutional amendments gave black men the franchise.

The otherwise intelligent Steinem developed selective amnesia about lynching, poll taxes, and all the terrors inflicted by segregation.

The fact that black men in most of the country were effectively barred from voting until the passage of the Voting Rights Act went unmentioned in Ms. Steinem’s column. The otherwise intelligent Steinem developed selective amnesia about lynching, poll taxes, and all the terrors inflicted by segregation when defending her candidate.

In 2006 Steinem had this to say about Clinton: “I disagree with her very much on the war. I feel otherwise she’s good on issues. But the war is huge.” Not huge enough. Steinem has fallen prey to the siren song of upholding identity politics even when her candidate doesn’t identify with her.

The third category of Obama-related neuroses comes from creepy white people who profess undying love. Chris Matthews of MSNBC gets teary eyed at the sound of Obama’s voice. “Obama’s speech made me cry,” said the biggest hack on television. Matthews is well known for developing man crushes on conservative white men, from President Bush (“Americans love having a guy as president”), former Senator Fred Thompson (“Can you smell the English leather on this guy”), or Mitt Romney (“He has the perfect chin, the perfect hair, he looks right”). Matthews’ public profession of love for Obama is telling and it doesn’t tell us anything good about the object of his affection.

O’Donnell believes we should let check-bundling fund raisers choose presidents for the rest of us.

Television pundit Lawrence O’Donnell is so besotted with the black candidate that he is ready to throw a white one under a bus. “If John Edwards stays in the race, he might, in the end, become nothing other than the Southern white man who stood in the way of the black man. And for that, he would deserve a lifetime of liberal condemnation.” O’Donnell believes we should dispense with democracy and let Iowa, New Hampshire and check-bundling fund raisers choose presidents for the rest of us. Obama’s candidacy is indeed historic. The corporatist pundit class prefers a black man if he is running against a white man who speaks out against corporate corruption.

Sadly, too many black people with a lifelong history of supporting a progressive agenda suddenly become tongue tied or verbal but nonsensical when they attempt to justify their Obama love. Obama tells outright lies such as, “. . . what ails working- and middle-class blacks and Latinos is not fundamentally different from what ails their white counterparts,” yet the love fest goes on without question. Obama supporters want him to be their man, so they continue in denial and conclude that he is, even when he tells them that he isn’t.

Voting for someone who acts in opposition to our interests makes us dupes, chumps to be quickly disposed of after the inaugural ball.

It is tempting to sign on with Obama because of smears from Clinton supporters like Cuomo, or because of Gloria Steinem’s convenient ignorance about black history or her bizarre allegiance to someone who dismisses her. Some attacks on Obama will be racist, some attacks on Clinton will be sexist. Supporting either one of them for those reasons is nothing but capitulation to the madness and a recipe for political disappointment.

Citizens should identify with politicians who believe as they do. Acting otherwise is to be in a constant state of bamboozlement. Neither the nonsense spread by hack pundits nor the grotesque smears of politicians should play a role in our decision making. Simply put, voting for someone who acts in opposition to our interests makes us dupes, chumps to be quickly disposed of after the inaugural ball. They are already prepared to send us to the political garbage dump. We shouldn’t make it easier for them.

Margaret Kimberley's Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached at: Margaret.Kimberley@BlackAgendaReport.Com. Read other articles by Margaret, or visit Margaret's website.

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  1. Mike McNiven said on January 18th, 2008 at 7:37pm #

    one White reason for the craziness:

  2. Mulga Mumblebrain said on January 18th, 2008 at 8:25pm #

    I’m afraid Margaret Kimberley takes the whole sham of ‘representative democracy’ far too seriously. Every US presidential candidate has been vetted by the US’s real rulers, the owners of society. In particular all candidates must pass the Zion test of unswerving, obsequious, allegiance to Israel. We don’t want any little accidents like Jimmy Carter, or JFK and his opposition to Israeli nuclear ambitions ( a BIG mistake, as he learned)to upset the Holy State. All candidates will govern in the interests of the rich. The votes of millions will be as nought, as they supported the losing candidate, or perhaps, as in 2000, the votes of five dyed in the wool reactionaries will decide the contest. On the other hand, as in 2004, the whole process may well be rorted and the exit polls, normally unerring, and very useful in the Ukraine to support the Yankee candidates, will have to be dispensed with yet again. I myself voted once, in this land of compulsory voting, then, on witnessing the contempt of the Right for due process and basic decency as they tore down a mildly reformist social democratic Government, that of Whitlam, the coup de grace delivered by a notorious agent of US intelligence, Kerr, who Whitlam, against the advice of some of his Ministers, had appointed head of state, decided never to be involved in such a charade again. We now have the perfect system of capitalist democracy, mimicing the US pattern. Two near identical parties, whose mass membership, in the face of governmental indifference if not contempt, have shriveled, replaced by opportunists, generally of the preferred Rightwing type, seeking personal power. Corruption is rife, but now of an’ a posteriori type’ where political operatives, after a lifetime of faithful service to money power, retire, and become highly remunerated ‘advisors’, to those industries they once regulated. The media is a swamp of Rightwing prejudice, growing, in response to incessant neo-Darwinian pressures from the ruling classes, yet more shrill, yet more extreme by the day. Hatemongering is rife. On any day you can read denunciations of Moslems (every day in fact) unionists, environmentalists, gays, secularists, humanists, welfare recipients, mass higher education (it lowers the standards, don’t you know, and lets in lots of mediocre Leftwingers) indigenous people (unless they’ve become Uncle and Aunty Toms)etc There are, on the other hand, various blessed categories of people. Israelis, naturally, at the forefront of ‘the war on terror’, Jews, so talented, but not those ‘self-hating Jews’ like Chomsky, Ilan Pappe, Uri Davis or Barenboim, Yanks, but just the rich ones and the beloved ‘slebs’ who ordain our magazines with spooky synchronicity. Public discourse and debate is dead. The Right, which deludes itself it won ‘the battle of ideas’, specialises in vituperation and character assassination, and, inevitably, lying. The use of the Big Lie was raised to the level of a cult under Howard, who earned the ironic sobriquet of ‘Honest John’ over twenty years ago, in mock tribute to his mendacity as Treasurer. The appellation was then appropriated, with admirable chutzpah, as a testimony to his absolutely non-existent truthfulness. The WMD lies, although they had the most delitirious results in direct destruction of innocent human life, were but one milestone in eleven years of enthusiastic untruthfulness. Howard’s Climate Change Denialism, and his support for Bush in undermining Kyoto will have the greatest ill-effect eventually, but there were many others. Howard, like his fellow creatures wasting the time of the American public in the election farce, is the living embodiment of the culture of lying, so well described in 1937 by Aldous Huxley, whose observations are, I believe, even more pertinent today.
    ‘Closely associated with the regression in charity is the decline in men’s regard for the truth. At no period in the world’s history has organised lying been practiced so shamelessly, or, thanks to modern technology, so efficiently or on so vast a scale….Most of this organised lying takes the form of propaganda inculcating hatred and vanity, and preparing men’s minds for war, The principal aim of the liars is the eradication of charitable feelings and behaviour inthe sphere of international politics’.
    When I read those lines I am inevitably reminded of jaime and his fellows, the practitioners of hasbara, the eternal traducers of their victims. Quite how organised, fanatical, hatred inducing, lying can be overcome is, in my opinion, the central moral and existential problem of the day.