Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Barack Obama Dares to Talk to Black People at Hampton University in 2007, Conservatives Go Crazy in 2012

The Right-wing media are up in arms over a "racist" speech given by then candidate Barack Obama at Hampton University, a historically black college, during 2007.

In trying to read through the 2,500 comments on the conservative website The Daily Caller which leaked this "new" story, I have come to a few conclusions.

One, conservatives who believe that Barack Obama hates white people, and that this speech is a smoking gun of sorts which will derail his campaign, have probably not listened to it.

Two, Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, and other Right-wing bloviators are also apparently shocked and surprised that black folks may speak to one another with one type of inflection and tone, while modifying their speech habits for other audiences. This peek inside the black community's semi-private spaces requires an appreciation for what is called "code switching."

At present, racial resentful and reactionary white conservatives seem incapable of understanding this simple fact: code switching is not an act of lying or dishonesty; it simply is a fact of life for those of us who have to navigate the color line, and are possessed of Du Bois' famous observation about double consciousness, and the "two-ness" that is being both black and American in a society which has constructed citizenship on your back, neck, blood, and stolen labor.

Black Americans love a country that has for most of its history not loved us back; Part of the genius of Black Americans is that we have found a way to be the best of what America can be, while also pushing her forward to fulfill the promise of the democratic creed and the Constitution in order to make the country better for all of its citizens.

Our capacity for adaptability and genius terrifies many in White America--far Right conservatives are most vulnerable to this terror when they realize that black and brown folks know more about liberty and freedom than most white Americans ever will, for they were lazily grandfathered into Whiteness and civic inclusion.

By contrast, liberty and freedom were a condition systematically denied to black folks (and other people of color): not allowed its fruits, we appreciate and know democracy much more deeply than many others in this country.

And ultimately, there are some conservatives, the Fox News, Tea Party Crowd especially, who hate Barack Obama as a human being. These sentiments go deeper than mere partisanship.

I do not use that language casually.

After watching the parade of white racial resentment, overt racism, and "polite" deployment of anti-black bigotry--a variety of racism which is rooted in stereotypes many centuries old about African Americans--by Mitt Romney and other Republicans during this campaign season, the rage at President Obama is beyond that of "normal" politics.

The symbolic body of a black president, leading what was for most of its existence a formally White Republic, must be destroyed so that the White Conservative Imagination can return to a state of settled peace. This is the only way that the latter's cognitive dissonance can be resolved.

In pursuit of this goal, the Right-wing media is dedicated to misrepresenting everything that Obama says, his personhood, his humanity, and his patriotism in order to further a narrative that the country's first black President is an alien outsider, a caricature of a black nationalist from the 1960's who has it in for "the man" and the "ofays" who did African Americans wrong for centuries.

I have listened to President Obama's speech at Hampton University in its entirety several times. Despite some very questionable, dishonest, and selective quotes from it, Obama offered up a set of policy prescriptions and diagnoses of the problems facing inner city communities that are a neat fit for the long and deep tradition of political, economic, and moral conservatism that is at the heart of the Black Freedom Struggle.

There, Obama repeatedly called for personal responsibility. Despite what The Daily Caller would argue, he also rejected any racially conspiratorial thinking about Hurricane Katrina and the Bush administration's criminally pathetic and incompetent response to the near destruction of a major American city:
Look at what happened in New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast when Katrina hit. People ask me whether I thought race was the reason the response was so slow. I said, "No. This Administration was colorblind in its incompetence." But everyone here knows the disaster and the poverty happened long before that hurricane hit. All the hurricane did was make bare what we ignore each and every day which is that there are whole sets of communities that are impoverished, that don't have meaningful opportunity, that don't have hope and they are forgotten. This disaster was a powerful metaphor for what's gone on for generations.
If conservatives were fair observers, they would be pleased by much of Obama's speech. He suggested that families, communal institutions, and upstanding motivated people, can solve many of the problems facing the ghetto underclass: this is not too far afield from the politics of Booker T. Washington.

If conservatives were at all honest, they would have applauded Obama's call for consensus in the pursuit of the Common Good:
And when we try to have an honest debate about the crises we face, whether it’s from the pulpit or the campaign trail, the pundits don’t want us to find common ground, they want us to find someone to blame. They want to divide us into Red States and Blue States, and tell us to always point the finger at somebody else – the other party, or gay people, or people of faith, or immigrants. 
This journey teaches us that they are going to keep driving that wedge; they are going to keep the distraction going. They are going to keep our faiths separate until we shout from the mountain top, “Our Father who art in heaven, we are going to take the bullets out. We believe in your will and your way.” 
Right here in this room, we believe that God is big enough to overcome the smallness of our politics; that He is big enough to overcome our doubts and our cynicism and our worries; that He is big enough to love children of every color and creed and political label.
The rage by white conservatives towards Obama's quite traditional, morally conservative policy prescriptions regarding how to solve the plight of the black poor, is very revealing: many on the White Right are befuddled by black folks' support for the Democratic Party because on paper more of us should support the Tea Party GOP on these "Culture War" issues.

However, African-Americans are sophisticated voters who long ago realized that despite those contingent areas of agreement with Republicans, that they should not be in league with a party, which in the modern era, has repeatedly demonstrated utter disdain for people like them.

Barack Obama's 2007 speech reveals that he is essentially a "compassionate conservative" whose words are not too far afield from those of either Jack Kemp or Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Yet, somehow Obama is painted by the Right-wing echo chamber as an anti-white, beat up whitey, support the parasitic blacks and welfare queen baby daddy and mommas, inscrutable and rapscallion negro who wants to steal from Caucasians.

The level of delusion and willful denial of reality that must be mustered in order to support such a state of mind would boggle the mind of any rational person. As demonstrated here, the true power of the Right-wing media is that they have mastered how to efficiently create such a psychological condition among their public.

Barack Obama's speech at Hampton in 2007 reminds me of an old joke. Obama is very conservative, and in another era would likely have been a forward thinking Republican in the Rockefeller mold. However, he made a crucial mistake.

There was once a black man who was very well liked by a white family. They ate dinner together, socialized, and enjoyed each other's company. One evening the black man made the error of mentioning that he was a negro. The white folks were very upset and summarily ended the dinner. Their child asked them what had happened, and why one of their favorite guests had been so rudely sent home. The matriarch of the family looked down at her daughter and carefully explained that their guest had made a mistake: he had the bad manners to remind them that he was a negro.

Obama's error was reminding a group of racially resentful white conservatives of a self-evident fact: the President of the United States of America is a black man. On occasion, he will make the horrible mistake of reminding you of that fact. How utterly shameful and contemptible of him.

And they say say that America is "post-racial?"


Shady_Grady said...

Perfect. Yes, this is it exactly. The most racist conservatives (and conservatives in general) can not believe that America elected a black man to be president and is on the verge of doing it again.

So they want to remind other white people that Obama is black. HE'S BLACK!!!

Their mindset will not allow them to comprehend that other white people know that and will vote for Obama anyway.

The obsessions and paranoia of Hannity, Carlson and others would be funny if they also weren't so dangerous. Because there are millions of people who think like that and some of them sit on juries, decide who gets tenure, hire and fire people, work in the justice system, etc.

Invisible Man said...

I get the feeling that the intellectual republican elite knows that Obama leans right of center, yet they fund these groups of dim right wing light bulbs who continue to believe he's some sort of radical black socialist, to push Obama further to the right. And it working.

nomad said...

Silly Babbits. 2007? Don't they realize he was just saying this stuff to a black audience to get elected? Since then he's done a complete 180 on black issues. WTF? How white must a black president wash himself to be acceptable to social conservatives? Maybe he should try harder to distance himself from black folks. I have a feeling that if he is reelected, as seems likely, he will.

Black Sage said...

CD, to invoke Du Bois’ “double consciousness” observation of Black Americans after viewing the video tape and then juxtapose this with hearing that conservatives are furious about it, is perfectly placed. On the other hand, most White Americans feel as if they’ve been hood-winked or played as a fool for voting for an individual fitting the description of an individual who’ve historically serve them plates of food sprinkled with caviar while dressed in a tuxedo. In the feeble minds of most Whites they’re probably asking, “How in the hell did he become the POTUS.”

During slavery, the slaves responded to the slave master by saying, “yes massa or no massa” and subsequently spoke entirely in different terms when the slave master wasn’t in close proximity. When the master wasn’t around, they either spoke of rebellion, how devilish Whites are or escaping from the plantation.

This is how most Whites view President Obama at this juncture in the presidential race. Obama is essentially being viewed by Whites as an escaped slave who took a shower, found the keys to the White House, sneaked in through a side door and walked up to the podium in a stolen suit and speak eloquently. This literally scares the sh&t out of some White Americans and even more so for so-called conservative ilk types.

CNu said...

The very thought of black accents in Kansas or Hawaii makes the future Hon.Bro.Preznit.Double-O acting black in front of the "no dreads/no cornrow" Boule negroes at Hampton some,

Bruto Alto said...


You should check out Hampton, your view of the college is not even close to correct. Only one department (college) even uses the no dreads thing. BO churched it up in the house though. Hell how many promises did he make? TAKE THE BULLET OUT!!!! Now that was comedy gold.

Anonymous said...

I both agree and disagree with Black Sage. As an old Southern
White lady who is volunteering many hours per week on Obama's
campaign, I see many sides.
Many Whites,particularly White males who are used to
being the top dog by virtue of their birth, are truly scared of the
"browning" of America. With globalization and the civil rights
movement, their economic and social position is no longer
guaranteed at birth. It is very convenient to blame reverse
discrimination and "illegals" for
the difficulties
they experience. Many others are merely black and
white thinkers (no relation to race) who have not
conceptually developed beyond dichotomies such
as "right vs. wrong" and "fair vs.
When you pair this type of rather primitive thinking with
fear, you tend to get right wing idealogues such as
the Tea Party.

In the past I have been a swing voter, but I have come to the
conclusion that the Right Wing Republican Base is Dangerous.
I do not think that they are conceptually capable of
understanding other perspectives and possibilities. Hence, they
leave me no choice but to fight against them, lest they deprive
me and others of our most basic human rights. I will be voting a
straight Democratic ticket for
the first time in my life.

makheru bradley said...

The right-wing is urinating all over themselves because they believe that the speech makes Obama appear to be too-Black, racially-divisive, and class-conscious. Screw them!

I view this speech from the perspective of non-alignment.

In this brilliant speech Obama attacks what Dr. King called the evil triplets: racism, poverty, and militarism. Whatever happened to that Barack Obama? As president he rarely if ever said the words Afrikan American, Black, poor, or poverty. For three years he refused to even meet with the CBC to discuss the issues he raised in the 2007 speech. The anti-war Obama became as militaristic as any US president and exceeded that with targeted assassinations—including American citizens. For exampe:

[For FY2013 Obama requested $525.4 billion for the regular defense budget and $88.5 billion for the separate war account. The war request includes $85.6 billion for Afghanistan, which is down from $105 billion in 2012, and $2.5 billion for Iraq.]

Obama proposed some great ideas for programs in this speech, but no president keeps a majority of his campaign promises. The great tragedy and loss, here, in my opinion is that Barack Obama did not even maintain the spirit of his 2007 speech. It becomes another example of why no one really knows what are the core values, and uncompromising principles of Barack Obama.

"Let’s start with fighting poverty. There are 37 million Americans who are poor. Most work. Most are single mothers and children. And most are forgotten by leaders in Washington. It’s time to take the bullet out and lift the poor out of despair and into the middle class of America."-- Obama

{37 million in 2007 increased to 46.2 million in 2011. However the real story is much worse: “Low-wage work encompasses people with incomes below twice the poverty line—not poor but struggling all the time to make ends meet. They now total 103 million, which means that fully one-third of the population has an income below what would be $36,000 for a family of three. In the bottom tier are 20.5 million people—6.7 percent of the population—who are in deep poverty, with an income less than half the poverty line (below $9,000for a family of three). Some 6 million people out of those 20.5 million have no income at all other than food stamps.”} -- MB

"Before we can start that work, we need to end this war in Iraq. We are spending $275 million a day in Iraq. Those dollars could go a long way to ending poverty in this country. This war should never have been authorized and waged. I opposed it from the very start, back in 2002 when it wasn't popular to be against this war. I opposed it because I believed strongly that it could lead to the disaster we find ourselves in today, with our brave young service men and women mired in the middle of a civil war." --Obama

War is a perpetual enemy of the poor. I was wondering why was Obama, after all American “combat troops” were pulled out of Iraq last December, requesting $2.5 billion for Iraq in his war budget. Lo and behold:

[A unit of U.S. Army Special Operations soldiers was recently (Sept/2012) deployed to Iraq and more U.S. soldiers may soon be on their way, according to a New York Times report on the impact the civil war in neighboring Syria is having on Iraq's "fragile society and fledgling democracy."]

“Those dollars could go a long way to ending poverty in this country.”

Whatever happened to that Barack Obama?

chaunceydevega said...

@Shady. I thought conservatives were upset that he didn't talk enough about being half-white?

@IM. You may be right.

@Nomad. when he wins, out comes the dashiki.

@cnu. old school in living color skit?

@anon. do chime in again. dangerous. absolutely.

@mb. he grew up.

CNu said...

dafuq you mean "he.grew.up?!?!?!?!"

When a 13 year old gets put out on the stroll and turns her very first trick, is that the functional equivalent of "he grew up"?

nomad said...

Grew up? Damn! What manner of rationalization of cognitive discrepancy be this?

nomad said...

Maybe he should try harder to distance himself from black folks. I have a feeling that if he is reelected, as seems likely, he will.

This is a good start.

nomad said...

I mean, the irony is so ironically ironic. On both sides of the racial divide. T partiers actively campaigning against the social safety net and ipso facto against their own best interests; totally oblivious to the fact that Obama shares their wish of cutting programs that help the poorer segments of society. To them it means cutting help for blacks. In reality largest segment of the population that will be hurt will be white, themselves included. On the other hand the supporter of Barack Obama must forever give up the idea that he will address black issues. Bwaaa-ha-ha-ha-ha!!! I ask you folks, what good is it to have a black president if he can't address black issues. Bwaaaa-ha-ha-ha-ha!!!

But, srsly. We do have to be pragmatic.

CNu said...

Nomad, Nomad, Nomad....., SMDH

Surely you realize by now that emotional negroe peasants eager to give up their meaningless little ritual votes from sheer vicarious exhuberance over pictures that they can put up next to the dusty MLK picture in their kitchens.....,

CNu said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
nomad said...

Yeah. I know. But every once n a while somebody's got to state the obvious. It's a dark, dark and twisted tragi-comedy. Buuuwaaaa-ha-ha-ha-ha...etc...

makheru bradley said...

“He grew up.” - LOL! In 2007 Obama’s campaign was a trial balloon. Obama didn’t have the slightest clue that the Democratic Party would choose him over Hillary Clinton. Once the oligarchic psychopathocracy decided he was their candidate in early 2008, these types of speeches and Rev. Wright became alien to the marketing strategy of his campaign. Obama did not grow up. He allowed himself to be molded into serving the interests of psychopaths. The brother had no idea what he was signing up for. Perhaps last night was his way of saying I’m tired of this b/s.

StewartIII said...

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