July 22, 2010

You Go, Ms. Sherrod!

[Update added.]

One particular kind of observation I've made about a certain Barack Obama over the last several years has repeatedly been greeted with a near-universal reaction along the lines of: "Wuhhhh??" I have been led to believe that this indicates a) bafflement, b) a faltering familiarity with the English language, c) a judgment that, whatever I might mean, it can't possibly have even the remotest relevance to any of the burning issues that demand our attention, d) all of the foregoing.

What kind of observation am I referring to? (Thus do I translate the, "Huh?," which I assume was the typical reaction to the preceding paragraph.) This kind:
Very interestingly, however, [Uri] Avnery neglects to mention a further critical reason for Obama's identification with "American whites," although he hints at it. That reason is one I discussed in the first part of my "Triumph" series, and it must never be forgotten. It's a simple and terrible reason: Obama wants power. This is not a secondary or related, tangential issue: we are talking about politics here, so it is the reason. He wants power. In America, if you want power, you must be white -- or you must adopt all the trappings of the white rulers. That's it, that's the whole thing. Power accrues to the white, male ruling class. Period.
And this kind:
[I]t is Obama himself who has adopted the white racist framework. Yes, I repeat that: Obama has adopted the white racist framework with regard to every issue of importance.
And this kind:
I confess I find it immensely difficult to describe accurately or completely the surreal quality of the Obama campaign. Everyone comments on the historic significance of a Black American who may be the next president. On the most superficial level, it is certainly historic, and I would not argue that it is entirely unimportant. At the same time, it is astonishing that almost no one notes the myriad ways in which Obama has transformed himself into a white candidate in everything but skin color. Yet on a deeper level, none of this is surprising: it is only another of thousands of examples of the superficiality and triviality of what passes for our national discussion, a subject I've discussed here and here. Still, I had not expected to see "passing for white" dramatized in exactly this manner, or on this scale.
Many more observations in the same category will be found in this post, and in the numerous articles linked there.

I know, I know: "Wuhhhh??"

But I see that at least one other person has put forth a perspective strikingly similar to mine on this point. Enter Shirley Sherrod:
Shirley Sherrod, the woman at the center of the racism storm that has consumed Washington the past few days, told me she doesn’t know if President Obama supports her, but she welcomes the opportunity to talk to him about it, and to offer a few lessons of her own.

“I can’t say that the president is fully behind me, I would hope that he is…I would love to talk to him,” Sherrod said on "GMA."

“He is not someone who has experienced what I have experienced through life, being a person of color. He might need to hear some of what I could say to him,” she told me. “I don’t know if that would guide him in a way that he deals with others like me, but I at least would like to have the opportunity to talk to him about it.”

No word yet from the White House on whether the President will call Sherrod.


Vilsack spoke to Sherrod yesterday and offered her a job at the USDA. But as of this morning Sherrod said she still didn’t know if she will accept it.

“I haven’t had a chance yet to look at just what that offer is. As I said earlier, I really, I know that he talked about discrimination in the agency and after all of these years that is still happening…And I would not want to be the one person in the agency that everyone is looking at to clear up discrimination in the Department of Agriculture,” Sherrod said.

Sherrod, the former Georgia director of rural development, said she needs reassurance from both Vilsack and Obama that they are fully committed to ending discrimination as well.

“Many of the same people who discriminated against black farmers continue to work there…There are some other things that would need to happen within the agency that have not happened to this date,” she told me.

Over the past four days Sherrod went from a symbol of racism to being seen by some as a heroine – a journey she said was “tough.”

“My life has been about fairness, and to have people think that I was a racist, someone who has worked against racism all my life, really, really, hurt to feel that people thought of me in a way that I know I wasn’t, and a way that so many people who know me knew that that wasn’t me,” she said.
I emphatically do not compare my own experience to Ms. Sherrod's, but because of what I've written about Obama, I've been accused of being a racist as well. I wrote about that, and many related matters, here.

Because of some emails I received and a few posts I happened to see, I know that part of the reason for the accusations in my case was a particular tone I adopted in some of my comments about Obama. For example:
Listen up, Obama, you cheap, lying fraud: the United States government launched a criminal war of aggression against a nation that never threatened us. It continues a bloody, murdering occupation which does nothing but worsen the agony of the Iraqi people. We have no right to be in Iraq at all. We never did. The actions of the United States government have led to a genocide of world historical proportions.

Genocidal murderers and those who support and enable them -- as you do, Obama, since you vote to fund this continuing crime -- do not get to "ask" one single goddamned fucking thing of their victims. Not. One. Single. Goddamned. Fucking. Thing.

Get it, you pathetic little asshole?
You see the starkly obvious problem: I consistently fail to be sufficiently respectful. Still worse, I use bad words. I realize that it's entirely irrelevant that I said exactly the same things about Bush when he was president. It can't possibly be the case that I'm reacting to the policies of the men in question, or to the fact that both of them are war criminals. No, it's most definitely not any of that.

I can't offer Ms. Sherrod anything at all by way of remuneration, but if she ever feels the urge to do a little blogging, I'd be exceptionally proud to offer her a guest spot here for as long as she wishes. She would have total freedom to write about whatever she wants, in whatever manner she chooses.

We racists need to stick together. You should feel completely free to quote that last sentence and provide no surrounding context whatsoever. I'll even help you out some more. I hate America, too. And I do not support "the troops." And, "Yes, I Want the United States to Lose."

I am a repellently irredeemable, utterly loathsome, motherfucking bastard. I insist that you quote that sentence. Frequently.

UPDATE: Although I linked this essay above, I hadn't read it in its entirety since it was published just over two years ago: "Enchanted Evenings -- and Days, and Lives, in Hell." I read it again a few minutes ago. It's far better than I expected it to be, and I'm somewhat surprised to be as proud of it as I am.

I think you may find the personal history I offer there, together with my observations, of some value in connection with my argument about Obama and his identification with the white, male ruling class. I'd forgotten most of the details of that article, and I was delighted to find much of it very interesting in ways I hadn't anticipated, given my own memory lapse. That's always one of the qualities I look for in anything I read, one that I especially enjoy. I honestly don't mean to sound arrogant and conceited on this point (though I recognize I undoubtedly do, probably unforgivably so); as I say, my own reaction surprised and delighted me. It was lovely. :>)