The Corner

Re: Obama & The Right

Fair point Ramesh, and I think you’re probably right in regard to the speech. But I think Ross’ general point about why the Right is less swoonful (if that’s a word) over Obama’s post-partisan, transcend race schtick, is correct. Obamaniacs think conservatives just don’t get it, that we’re mired in the past, that we are motivated by old passions and bigotries. We can’t get swept up in the Obama “movement” because we don’t want or can’t imagine a post-racial America, blah, blah, blah, blah. The truth, as Ross suggests, is that we very much can imagine a post-racial America. Indeed, it’s the Shelby Steeles, Ward Connerlys, Tom Sowells and John McWhorters who’ve been arguing for a real post-racial America for decades.

Meanwhile, there is actually not a lot of “post” in Obama’s post-racialism. He’s still dedicated to affirmative action and racial quotas. He decries black victimology but he embraces its underlying logic and the old-style laws and programs that sustain it (perhaps with the exception of vouchers). His two concessions are 1) his admission that things have gotten better for blacks (which, rhetorically, is a real concession) and 2) that self-help is an important ingredient for racial progress (which, rhetorically, isn’t that new).

But it is this concession which really comes up lame. According to his speech, blacks need not so much to drop their racial grievances but to bundle them with various white and Latino grievances in order to create a populist movement that is entirely leftwing and conventional in its ambitions.  The “conservative” self-help message is really window dressing for a typically big government agenda that would only expand and entrench  liberal racialism.  In short, for all the talk about moving “beyond” race, the real aim is to use post-racial rhetoric to reinvigorate the racial spoils system true post-racialists, like Sowell et al,  want to overthrow.

Jonah Goldberg — Jonah Goldberg holds the Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute and is a senior editor of National Review. His new book, The Suicide of The West, is on sale now.

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