Politics & Policy

Victory Vice

Not joining the celebration.

Forgive me for not getting swept up on the wings of change.

Of course, it is impressive that a man named Barack Obama has been elected president of the United States of America. He came out of nowhere and is now president-elect. In a nation where not so many years ago many blacks could not vote, this is no small thing. But to pretend that being a black man who has run a successful campaign is the stuff of commanders-in-chief is patronizing. In truth, the road to the White House for Barack Obama has been populated by a media and an opponent who gave him a pass on fundamental issues of record and judgment (Bill Ayers, Jeremiah Wright, abortion …. ).

#ad#Some readers tell me blacks in America needed this. I question that. I think it’s a pretty shallow contention, born of white guilt. Do I believe blacks — along with others — are inspired and uplifted by the mere elevation and election of Obama? Of course. I see it. But I submit that Obamania is more about ideology for a lot of people than they are letting on. And before long, many who gave him a pass or were victimized by the pass others who knew better gave him, will wake up and be disappointed.

Part of the reason I can’t get swept up in this surface-deep historic moment of tolerance has to do with an ad that ran this week in California, in opposition to Proposition 8, which would protect traditional marriage against overreaching judges. The ad featured two women, married in San Francisco. Two Mormon missionaries invade their home — announcing “we’re here to take away your rights” — tear up their marriage license, and walk away asking “what should we ban next?” The bigoted ad ends, “Say no to a Church taking over your government.”

The Left has a lot to learn about tolerance. While celebrating Obama’s win, they might reflect on former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney’s speech of almost a year ago on religious liberty.

A black man was elected president Tuesday. That makes history. However: Would we — MSNBC and everyone else — be celebrating it as a historic moment if a right-wing woman named Sarah Palin were vice-president-elect today? Would we — MSNBC and everyone else — be celebrating it as a historic moment if a right-wing Mormon named Mitt Romney were elected president today? I have my doubts. With few exceptions, Sarah Palin was attacked by liberal feminists and the Left. That she was a woman didn’t make a difference in their lives except to be a massive threat to their power. America didn’t gather round and celebrate Clarence Thomas, when he was nominated to the Supreme Court 17 years ago. That, too, was about ideology.

Barack Obama, I submit, was — with few exceptions — about ideology. He has been a coward on a number of significant issues, making him nonthreatening to the Left. He has been a coward on fatherhood, not talking tall and strong and challenging us on an issue that hurts so many American families, especially black families in the inner city. He has been a coward on abortion, another issue that hurts blacks in a virtual genocide, arguing even in defense of infanticide. I hope this all changes. But nothing in his thin record gives me hope. Had he taken on the radical Left on these issues instead of joined them, I would have that hope for a change. But none of that happened.

In his recent book My Grandfather’s Son, Clarence Thomas relates an argument he had with John Bolton over mandatory-motorcycle-helmet laws. Bolton said: “‘Clarence, as a member of a group that has been treated shabbily by the majority in this country, why would you want to give the government more power over your personal life?’ That stopped me cold. I thought of what Daddy had said when I asked him why he’d never gone on public assistance. ‘Because it takes away your manhood,’ he said. ‘You do that and they can ask you questions about your life that are none of their business. They can come into your house when they want to, and they can tell you who else can come and go in your house.’ Daddy and John, I saw, were making the same point: Real freedom meant independence from government intrusion, which in turn meant that you had to take responsibility for your own decisions. When the government assumes that responsibility, it takes away your freedom — and wasn’t freedom the very thing for which blacks in America were fighting?”

Perhaps John Bolton can be the Republican Obama promised in his Cabinet. (!) Sadly, I fear a different future: Obama’s radicalism will prove to be yet another in the long list of disservices done by government to blacks in America.

– Kathryn Jean Lopez is the editor of
National Review Online.

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