Comments: Why I Will Vote for Barack Obama

your cautions are justified.

if nothing else, though, imho, obama's candidacy and his presidency (enshallah) will bring empowerment to a significant number of people who will be moved to ask "what's needed right here in my community" and do something to make that happen.

i'm one of those people.

president obama cannot be all things to all people but, if nothing else, he has lit a fire of inspiration that hopefully will burn brightly and effectively for a long time to come.

Posted by karen marie at November 4, 2008 12:19 PM

Well, yeah, a black person can be Secretary of State, too, but look where that has gotten us (twice). A vote based on skin color is prejudicial.

Posted by Don Bacon at November 4, 2008 12:29 PM

But how might that work, the Obama making us "a better people?"
After LBJ rammed through all that good stuff, did we become a better people? (Whatever that might mean.) We became so good that we voted for Nixon twice and Reagan twice, for resentment and greed, respectively.
A collective change is not impossible, but usually triggered by total disaster, destruction and self-destruction, as in post-WWII Germany, accompanied by self-examination and acknowledgment of collective guilt in or at least indifference to evil.
I don't think we are even close to anything like that. And I don't think Obama has a magic wand.

Posted by donescobar at November 4, 2008 12:58 PM

Don: bad examples. The votes that gave us Condi and Colin were not based on skin color. They were votes for white men.

So let me ask: Why is a vote based on skin color necessarily prejudicial?

Posted by Bernard Chazelle at November 4, 2008 01:00 PM

The other Don: The "we" who voted for LBJ and then Nixon/Reagan are not exactly the same "we." So maybe so some of those "we" became better people.
Your pessimism is well justified, however. But you know the song: pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will, blah blah...

Posted by Bernard Chazelle at November 4, 2008 01:05 PM

I hope Karen is right.

I also hope the Dems get a filibuster-proof majority. This way they'll have no excuses and the urgency of a 3rd party will become all the more obvious.

Posted by Bernard Chazelle at November 4, 2008 01:13 PM

Well done! That's the best excuse for supporting the war-on-terra Middle East bloodbath I've read today. "Vote for Obama! He's got a good PR machine! Whooooot!"

Posted by AlanSmithee at November 4, 2008 01:18 PM

Skin color? I'm talking about the "making us a better people" thing.
All our white presidentsa haven't made us a better people. Nor will a president of color. American culture has been shaped over many years and by many forces, both imposed and self-inflicted. Any significant change will have to originate and work from and within those forces. Skin color, or racism, is one, but without tectonic shifts in the others, you'll get temporary and superficial trends. And then it's back to Nixon or Reagan or Clinton and a choice of the best snake oil salesman. Obama may be one of those. I hope not, but what precedents do we have for genuine and long-lasting change(s) in the American character?

Posted by donescobar at November 4, 2008 01:20 PM

Obviously, a vote based on skin color is prejudicial by definition, just as any other irrelevant factor like religion, Frenchism or vegetarianism would be.

Posted by Don Bacon at November 4, 2008 01:24 PM

I MUST agree with Don Bacon. WOMEN have been oppressed much more and for longer than Black People. The continental ancestry does NOT apply. Palin is articulate enough to sell empire to the world. If one wants to shatter a glass ceiling why not women's. Other than that its back to the same old "lesser of 2 evils". I personally congratulate WHOEVER WINS on the glass ceiling issue, and ALL MY love and support from that standpoint. As far as leadership and the lesser of 2 evils?????

Posted by Mike Meyer at November 4, 2008 01:25 PM

"Optimism of the Will?" Wasn't that Riefenstahl?

LBJ "rammed through" all that good stuff because things were exploding when nearly a hundred years of post-bellum backsliding and neglect ran into a decade of solid pushback on civil rights for African-Americans. If anything, it was done too late. He was the victim of Eisenhower and JFK's failure to address the issue before the lid started to blow off.

Posted by darrelplant at November 4, 2008 01:34 PM

An Obama vote at ATR. Go figure.

Posted by Dennis Perrin at November 4, 2008 01:52 PM

I agree, darrelplant.
With Ike, more unwillingness than "failure" to address those issues.
But why should we not look at racism in the USA as we should at antisemitism in (much of) Europe?
The roots for both, as Sartre saw so well in his book on Jews, are deep and complex, and I can see a shift in leadership affecting either one as a superficial and temporary one at best.

Posted by donescobar at November 4, 2008 01:52 PM

I agree, darrelplant.
With Ike, more unwillingness than "failure" to address those issues.
But why should we not look at racism in the USA as we should at antisemitism in (much of) Europe?
The roots for both, as Sartre saw so well in his book on Jews, are deep and complex, and I can see a shift in leadership affecting either one as a superficial and temporary one at best.

Posted by donescobar at November 4, 2008 01:52 PM

testing

Posted by fghj at November 4, 2008 02:14 PM

Military Commissions Act of 2006... Patriot Act II... FISA 4th Amendment-Shredding Act... every Iraq War supplemental bill... 700 billion (and rapidly climbing) Bailout/Giveaway to the Wall Street hustlers... troop escalation in Afghanistan... assault on Pakistan... Obama embraces these things with every fiber of his being.

Change? Hope? Forgive me but it just doesn't compute.

Posted by Coldtype at November 4, 2008 02:14 PM

The really essential question of this election IS "Whom do WE bomb first--Pakistan or Iran?" 'cause WE gonna bomb both before too long.

Posted by Mike Meyer at November 4, 2008 02:46 PM

Why? Is it his promise to expand the war in Afghanistan? Or his plan to increase the size of the army by 90,000? Or his coddling of terrorists (yes, I mean the health insurance lobbyists)? Or is it his pro-wiretap vote? Or his pro-death penalty stand? Or his tax cuts for all but quarter-millionaires? Or his willful neglect of the poor, a class of subhumans unworthy of even a passing mention in his campaign?

Bernard, your whole post reads like "I know better, but I'm voting for him because he's black and I'm voting for him in order to alleviate my white guilt."
And for the record, my family has been in the US for at most 3 generations, so I don't give a damn about slavery or any other black/white race issue. Really, in my eyes for you to use race as the major justification of voting for this Pro-Empire politician is as disgusting to me as any racism I've ever seen.

And I wouldn't hold your breath about him making us better people. Maybe more smug and self satisfied, but definitely not better people.

Posted by tim at November 4, 2008 03:31 PM

DonB: A vote based on skin color cannot be prejudicial "by definition." Check the definition: it says nothing about skin color.

>>prejudicial: causing prejudice or disadvantage; detrimental.

So why is using the blackness of a man's skin as a factor in deciding whom to vote for in a presidential election necessarily detrimental?
Vegetarians have not been enslaved for 200 years, so I don't quite see the parallel.

For whites to use whiteness as a criterion is prejudicial. But to use blackness is not.


Posted by Bernard Chazelle at November 4, 2008 03:35 PM

You had me going there for a while. As a fellow reluctant supporter of Obama's who deeply, DEEPLY, hopes that he wins and who has worked toward that end for many worthy hours but who believes that he's only a slightly less dirty and wrongheaded candidate than the opposition...I was feeling quite empathic with your piece.

Then you got into the, "I'm only a dirty, evil white..." thing and you sorta lost me.

I honest to God don't get what the fuck is up with you white liberal types. Your "I'm SORRY! I'm SOOOO SORRY!!!!" to black Americans is so patently ridiculous that I can't entirely wrap my head around it. I'm as much - no more, no less - in favor of helping poor black Americans as I'm in favor of helping poor Americans of other skin hues. Why precisely do you "find the prospect of a black president exhilarating"? Better still - exhilarating though it may be, it isn't enough to make up for our enslavement of them.

Well excuse me fine sir but I never fuckin enslaved anybody. Nor did my parents, my grandparents, my great grandparents or anybody in my recorded historical line. I have nothing to apologize to Black Americans for and in fact I personally happen to feel that if we're going to generalize all people of a particular hue of skin into one personage (something I personally wouldn't do but I'm engaging you here in your own strange moral territory) than it's black Americans who owe the greater apology. The amount of black-on-white violent crime - BY WHICH I MEAN CRIMES THAT CAUSE PHYSICAL DAMAGE TO HUMAN BEINGS - is astronomically higher than violent crimes in the other direction. In fact (is it racist to state clear and statistically undisputed truths? oh it is? well fuck you.) a white women is A HUNDRED TIMES as likely to be raped by a black man as a black woman is likely to be raped by a white man.

Who owes who the apology here?

Again, this isn't MY moral territory here. It's yours. I personally see no reason for any one person to feel guilty for the crimes or to feel that any penance is required on his part for them. Furthermore I believe that violent crimes of many sorts by black Americans are (perhaps) justified as "crimes" of the underclass against its rulers (not rape though, and not black crimes by middle-class blacks either). I further believe that a great many of these crimes (including the totally inexcusable ones) would cease to occur were we to have a less class-based society where the Haves live wondrous lives that the Have Nots have the privilege of viewing on television 24/7. But in all of this I don't see color save where it's scientifically, historically or socially important to notice it.

Scientifically: (Here's a fun fact for ya!) West Africans are almost certainly, on average, slightly less capable in various talent-based fields related to "success" in today's capitalistic world than are Jews. What does that tell us about required fixes to the system? Almost nothing. Not only because there are minions of people of West African parentage who are world class geniuses and there are endless numbers of Ashkenazi Jews, relatives of Einstein, who couldn't think their way out of a paper bag but more so because RACE IS IRRELEVANT to the issue of individuals' happiness. What do I care if someone of similar skin tone to myself becomes president if I myself can't afford a bus pass? White people such as yourself who look at black Americans as a class and who judge their social advancement by the numbers are the very worst enemies of the struggle black American who WILL NOT end up on that list of "advancers" (to say nothing of poor white Americans. My God! How you destroy their lives by writing them off as if they don't exist, the millions of "trailer trash" who not only suffer the same degrading lives as their poor brothers in "the ghetto" do but who don;t even get the occasional shout out of sympathy from race-obsessed people such as yourself).

Historically: Ignoring the history of black Americans in this country would be ridiculous. It's so obvious that the degraded life that many of them suffer WOULD NOT be suffered were they raised as Obama was. I needn't go into any more detail here because it's ALL that people such as yourself see. The fact that "meritocracy", social-climbing and money-lust are the chief crimes of our society is lost on you as you see almost NOTHING but skin tone.

Socially: Spending half a century shouting to Black Americans about the innate evil of Whitey and implying that the reasons for their sufferings are on account of some mystical matter called "racism" (explain to me how that works again? And how that explains why so few "whites" have such racism toward the Bobby Jindals of the world?) and letting them know that millionaire Jeremiah Wright is justified in all his pronouncements MOTHERFUCKIN CAUSES those rapes. You can't sow the wind and expect to reap a crop of Tolstoys. The facts of "underachieving" (if you consider wealth and status to be achievements we should all be striving for - WHICH I DON'T) by black Americans are explained chiefly by genetics and inheritance, not by racism. The crime that's been committed here is that of awarding the naturally capitalistically-gifted and the inheritor of physical wealth rather than of some mysterious all-powerful hatred of non-Indian blacks. And that crime not only suffices as an indictment on our society and of our fist-on-the-table need for "change" but it's a far larger crime than that of your mysterious one of racism for it harms far far more people and can't be remedied by some quick hires of sufficiently colorful people.

Fine, I'm done ranting. It's time for two apologies and a whispered request.

Apology #1: I know that you're not the enemy and I certainly don't mean to say "fuck you" (it just fit at the time and is STILL, I believe, a worthy response to any claim that true statistics are somehow morally tinged when they go up against politically correct preferences). I argue with what appears to be the zeitgeist of your moral feelings from the same side of the barricade as you. I wish you only the best and, as a human being, I appreciate all that you've done, are doing and will do for less fortunate folks (and if those doings tend to focus over-excessively on the needs of people with some particular shade of epidermis, that's fine too).

Apology #2: The aforementioned was shouted into a tiny comment space without any regard for flow, grammar, punctuation, spelling or coherency. No attempt was made to cover logistical loose ends or to lay out any cogent argument. My intention certainly wasn't to simply goad or infuriate but nor was it to win allies to my (current) view. It was a shout of frustration and what convincing power a more cogent "piece" might have, this rant lacks.

Whispered Request: I know that I've mentioned the twin unmentionables of violence and genetic "smarts" and that therefore almost no readers of this space will have any inclination (nay even personal permission from THEIR OWN SOULS) to consider the view that I've put forth. I request however that you attempt to honestly do so. I have small hopes that even the most pure-minded among you will succeed with any such attempts on account of the depressingly likely view that Mencken (see previous post in these pages) that Mencken was right about non-free people's inabilities to think rationally when they COULD NEVER EVER ALLOW THEMSELVES TO ADOPT THE OPPOSING VIEW. But Mencken may be wrong, so kindly consider considering the view that I've presented. I believe that the hour is pressing and that if we want more out of this coming administration than programs that help already-gifted African Americans (who scarcely need the help) but feel the pressing people-dying-every-single-mother-fuckin-day NEED for healthcare for all, a clamp-down on greedy advertisers, a living wage, a less "money is everything!" public discourse and similar programs , then we really, really, REALLY need to give up on this "Race Is All there Is!" bullshit.

mnuez

Posted by mnuez at November 4, 2008 03:38 PM

Obviously, a vote based on skin color is prejudicial by definition, just as any other irrelevant factor like religion, Frenchism or vegetarianism would be.

Vegetarianism? Religion? A person chooses those. A person does not choose his skin color (please don't say anything about tanning or some nonsense like that because you know what I mean).

Bernard Chazelle, I grew up in Chicago and I voted for Harold Washington. I remember it well.

Washington won the Democratic nomination but almost lost the general election. It would have been unthinkable for that to have happened to a white candidate.

Posted by cemmcs at November 4, 2008 03:40 PM

Youch, paragraph 6 should read: "for the crimes of another". I certainly WOULD like people to feel guilty for THEIR OWN violent crimes.

Posted by mnuez at November 4, 2008 03:42 PM

CORRECTION: In my comment, I mentioned, I had read all the above comments. When I started writing my comment, THE LAST comment was by
Mike Meyer 02:46 PM-- just to keep the record straight. The remaining comments I saw, after I posted my comment.

Posted by Rupa Shah at November 4, 2008 04:06 PM

White guilt is a good thing (I wish there were more of it), but that is NOT the reason I will vote for Obama. It is NOT to expiate any crime or alleviate my bad feelings. It is not about ME. That's why I insisted on saying it's not about making me feel good.

It is about the black kid in the department store.

donescobar doesn't quite believe that's the way it works. I disagree but I respect his view and at least he addressed the central issue. Some of the other commenters seem to be fighting their own strange demons.


Posted by Bernard Chazelle at November 4, 2008 04:09 PM

>>Why is a vote based on skin color necessarily prejudicial?

bacause it has nothing to do with the job of being a president. The color of the skin is something additional this time around.

Go go for Obama.

Posted by Eugeny at November 4, 2008 05:23 PM

This thread is like a rat king of trolls.

Posted by buermann at November 4, 2008 05:29 PM

Fact is Obama is a typical type A power hungry guy who wants to be the Prez and will do almost anything to achieve it... He also happens to be black which is almost beside the point

He will be prez (i did not vote for him cause of his record, went for Nader instead)and perhaps he will do well and perhaps not.. we will find out soon.. though his record suggests not much will change as already listed by Bernard

However, I am still awed by him, I mean you gotta give the guy credit.

Imagine.. A black man with a muslim middle name has been able to put one over on the MAN and get himself to the white house. It is the ultimate underdog story

If it wasn't happening in reality it would be a great SNL skit

I see nothing wrong with people in the black community taking pride in the fact that "one of their own" is now on top and it is infinitely better than if McCooCoo was prez from their viewpoint

My greatest hope is that perhaps with Obama, the police state and it's draconian drug war that has decimated the young black male population will now be reigned in..

So Bernard if you would have said that you voted for Obama so you could stick it to the MAN or to send a message to the "establishment", then I would understand..

but voting for Obama just to make some black kid in a department store see hope is just too.. silly

If Bill Clinton was the first "black" prez then My only wish is that Obama does not become the first "oreo" prez.

Posted by sam at November 4, 2008 05:33 PM

Sigh.

Rupa Shah, Bernard, my parents, my brothers, my friends, and every one else who is good and decent I hope voted for Obama.

But you are the people who I have accepted as a positive thing the election of one of two candidates given to us by our enemies. I understand your idealism, but I can only hope that I can convince you all of my realism while there is still a chance for me to gloat.

Posted by tim at November 4, 2008 06:44 PM

>>Why is a vote based on skin color necessarily prejudicial?


eugeny says:
>> because it has nothing to do with the job of being a president.

----

If true, that still wouldn't prove it's prejudicial.

But it's not true. Symbols matter. The best proof is on this web site. Reread mnuez' racist drivel if you can stomach it. Maybe if more presidents had been black, he wouldn't be spewing out such garbage.

mnuez: fyi, more black women have been raped by white men -- vastly more! -- than the other way around.

Posted by Bernard Chazelle at November 4, 2008 06:53 PM

sams:

So Bernard if you would have said that you voted for Obama so you could stick it to the MAN or to send a message to the "establishment", then I would understand..

Stick it to the MAN? A bit narcissistic and juvenile, no? One sticks it to the man to please oneself. The MAN typically doesn't give a flying crap if you stick anything to him. Being a progressive is not about making yourself a more self-contented soul. It's about making the world a better place. Ah, the navel-gazing of liberals.

Posted by Bernard Chazelle at November 4, 2008 07:02 PM

*cough*

Err, not that you'd glean it from the above bitchery, I found your post was thoughtful and illuminating. As always.

I need coffee.

Posted by RobWeaver at November 4, 2008 07:04 PM

Chazzerel -

One of the many areas where Obama's skills put mine to my shame is in his ability to not allow the distracting opposition to change the subject. In the course of his splendid campaign he's been able to take every sort of ear-tickle, yeah-but, howl of derision, misquote, innuendo and gotcha lobbed his way by his enemies and allow it dissolve away - seemingly unnoticed! - and thus keep it from the attention of circus criers. In a sentence: He's stayed on message.

I'm not there yet. And to demonstrate that I'm not there yet I'll allow you to change the subject by rising in defense of your silly, purposeful, misquote of a hastily thrown together sentence of mine. Hasty though my off-the-cuff remarks here may be, I'm not an idiot and my sentence structure wasn't REMOTELY open to your misunderstanding of it. Not only did you most certainly understand the meaning of my sentence which you chose to pervert, but there was literally no other way for my sentence to have been understood. A more genuine fuck you this time around.

Call me all the names you like but when you start purposefully engaging in knowing distortions for the sake of being better able to dissemble some argument you make yourself an enemy of every honest man in the world.


Posted by mnuez at November 4, 2008 07:15 PM

Rob: Your analogy freaked me out. Old Yeller... a sweet dog! OK, I don't remember the movie. It's been too long. But I vaguely remember it was a very sweet dog.

About the 3/5th clause, I wrote a post not long ago dissing the US constitution, and that's why I am such a popular guy at ATR.

Re. Palin, I kind of liked her, to be frank, though I felt sorry for the caribou.


Posted by Bernard Chazelle at November 4, 2008 07:15 PM

I wrote a post not long ago dissing the US constitution

That's why I was surprised.

...

Maybe I should gone with Cujo. Actually, he was probably a sweet dog, too...

Posted by RobWeaver at November 4, 2008 07:30 PM

You say, "black poverty has been on a steady increase for the past quarter-century." Hasn't white and brown poverty been keeping pace? Last I looked, the racial divide below the poverty line was effectively 50% white, 25% black, and 25% Hispanic.

Posted by will shetterly at November 4, 2008 08:17 PM

tim:
"every one else who is good and decent I hope voted for Obama. I can only hope that I can convince you all of my realism while there is still a chance for me to gloat.

People who voted for Obama or will vote for Obama are not starry eyed. I believe, their feet are firmly grounded and they do not expect miracles. However, they are optimists but also realists. I read an article today on antiwar.com by Uri Avnery regarding the election and he has defined the terms very accurately, "How does an optimist differ from a realist? My ( Avnery's ) definition is: a realist sees reality as it is. An optimist sees reality as it could be".
And I did vote for Sen Obama.

And your comment "And for the record, my family has been in the US for at most 3 generations, so I don't give a damn about slavery or any other black/white race issue" had me a bit confused. In the same comment, you mentioned several things that Sen Obama could do wrong and we are all conceerned about that. But you claim slavery and black/white race issues do not concern you. Do you think they are connected? As a leftist, justice would be of foremost concern, no matter who is responsible. So, though you and I may not have anything to do with slavery, do you agree, we should certainly fight for justice for them?

Also in terms of war ( large number of minorities recruited and enrolled ) and capital punishment ( large number of minorities on death row ), do you believe it is in some way related to racism? If you do, don't you think more minorities will die in wars ( which you do not approve of ) and more minorities will be given capitlal punishment which I gather you do not agree with. Sadly, racism pervades all aspects of life for those who suffer from it. And that should not be the only reason for voting for Sen Obama but that a black person can reach such heights in terms of achievement, will inspire young black people and other minorities to aspire to greater things. In the final analysis, that can only be good for our country.

Posted by Rupa Shah at November 4, 2008 08:54 PM

Alaya: Hear! Hear!

Posted by Mike Meyer at November 4, 2008 08:57 PM

>> the racial divide below the poverty line was effectively 50% white, 25% black, and 25% Hispanic.

Which, of course, completely proves my point that black poverty not only has gotten worse but is, and has always been, worse than for any other ethnic group and therefore should be given preferential treatment. Thanks for the numbers!

Posted by Bernard Chazelle at November 4, 2008 10:08 PM

Alaya: I considered voting for McKinney but in the end went for Obama precisely because of this enthusiasm I've seen in the black community (eg, Camden, Brooklyn, Harlem, etc) or read about (eg, the South). I think I made the right choice but I could be wrong. I've made my reservations about Obama, the politician, very clear, so I don't need to go over that again.

But to tie this thread back to the post, there's one reason I focus on blacks (and the poor in general). It has nothing to do with my passion for black culture or the fact that I like their company or that I might feel guilty to be a privileged white man who never gets routinely insulted on the street. All these things might be true but they're irrelevant. It's not emotion but philosophy that guides me (though emotion gives me the energy I need). I've developed this in http://www.cs.princeton.edu/~chazelle/politics/creed.html

arguing why the most disadvantaged deserve the most attention. Except for close friends, only Tony Judt has had kind and intelligent comments to make about the essay.

And that's my problem with liberals. If I write
a long rant against Bush, I get 1000 emails and a million downloads. But if I try to explain why we should be doing what we're not doing, then no one in the liberal world seems interested.

Instead they read and love the platitudes of a Tomasky or any of his American Prospect useful idiots.

Weird world.

Posted by Bernard Chazelle at November 4, 2008 10:31 PM

S. T. F. U.

Posted by mv75g543 at November 4, 2008 11:24 PM

[Eddie Murphy]G. T. F. O. H![/Eddie Murphy]

Posted by RobWeaver at November 5, 2008 12:22 AM

I voted for the Socialist candidate. But Obama won anyway, so I feel no regret.

Posted by Vic at November 5, 2008 12:36 AM

I'm weary of this.

Weary though I may be, I'll include myself in your congregation long enough to congratulate us all on the candidate whom we begrudgingly supported as slightly less wrong-headed than the opposition. It's a wonderful night, a beautiful night, God bless America and God bless our new President-elect, Barack Hussein Obama.

I'm still pretty weary though. My major point in my original rant had almost nothing whatsoever to do with rape. It was brought up, tangentially, as a FACT that I felt was as irrelevant to our conversation regarding presidential candidates as was the legality of slavery a hundred and fifty years ago. To a race-obsessed crowd however that's some fine stenchy red meat and it serves as distraction par excellence.

I hate the distraction. It's stupid. And it makes fools of all who engage it, myself included. But, as already mentioned, I'm a fool for fools. I can abide their foolishness not and my hot-headed temperament is always ready to put all other matters aside until the foolishness of their speech is routed. Thus I address Alaya.

Alaya, no doubt your fellow believers in the national narrative regarding race will accept at face value your red-hot denunciation of 'my statistics' regarding the likelihood of a white woman being raped by a black man in this country as opposed to a black woman being raped by a white man. After all, you referred to such statistics as patently "false" and even linked that triumphal denunciation to a website. Why bother to double check your link?

Being a more intellectually honest individual however, I DID hit the link to see whether in fact I might be mistaken (and let it be clear that on this, as well as on EVERY, subject I CAN of course be mistaken and if I am indeed in error I appreciate what correction is offered me).

Your link however (of course) makes no such counter claims whatsoever (in fact the precise OPPOSITE of your claim is strongly implied regarding the prevalence of sexual violence among black males) and I'm left to conclude that you are either horribly unlettered in English (intra may not mean what you think it means) or unschooled in math (thus misunderstanding her [unsourced, but irrelevant] ninety-percent claim).

In any case, I have no moral qualms about condemning my condemners for their own foolishness but I should still be clear about the fact that I:

- care deeply about the wretched suffering of millions of African Americans and believe that even drastic measures are morally acceptable to alleviate that suffering (even if it arises in largest part from non-race-related motives but from the systemic failure of laissez faire capitalism to care for the majority as opposed to the fortunate minority)

- do not view any human beings or category of human beings are inherently of lesser human value than other human beings

- am cognizant of the fact that genetics tells only a small part of the story

- am in no way convinced that the disgustingly high levels of violent crime to be found among African Americans is indicative of anything genetic whatsoever, as in contrast to being mainly the result of a variety of other factors (including the repeated breast-beating of white liberals who have - in their own selfish interests of looking like altruistic saints - convinced generations of African American young boys that they were being held down by the Racist White Man).

Selah.

I wish you all well and may be fortunate to be able to vote proudly and without reservations for President Obama four years hence. Amen.

mnuez

Posted by mnuez at November 5, 2008 02:32 AM

Bernard, I'm confused on two counts (at this moment in time, ahem):

1. Do you think Hispanic and white poverty is less deserving of attention than black poverty? The percentages for Hispanic and black poverty are fairly equal, I believe.

2. Weren't those percentages (50%, 25%, 25%) about the same in LBJ's day? Or has only black poverty grown? I thought all poverty had grown proportionally as the wealth gap increased under Clinton and Bush. If you've got numbers on this, I'd love to know them.

Posted by will shetterly at November 5, 2008 03:15 AM

" I'm not an idiot"
-mnuez

All evidence to the contrary notwithstanding of course.

Posted by Coldtype at November 5, 2008 05:27 AM

Mnuez, anyone who confidently asserts that "science" supports his beliefs that some ethnic groups are dumber than others really shouldn't go around lecturing other people on rationality. That's apart from the fact that you've evidently spent a lot of time persuading yourself that blacks have done much more harm to whites in this country than vice versa, an utterly bizarre notion that ought to be laughable to anyone not in the grip of racism, while simultaneously thinking you've risen above the racial thinking that plagues people other than yourself.

Posted by Donald Johnson at November 5, 2008 07:31 AM

Geez Alaya, what's wrong with you? Don't you know that being a progressive means can't just vote for who you want? You have to vote strategically and go with the crowd.

You see, when progressives vote, they vote against things, not for things. So when they vote for a warmongering corporate-owned empty suit, they're really voting against war and corporate rule. See? War = peace! Oligarchy = democracy!

Like Bernard says - personal integrity is just narcissism.

Posted by AlanSmithee at November 5, 2008 07:45 AM

People: as always, please strive to be beautiful to each other.

Posted by Jonathan Schwarz at November 5, 2008 08:18 AM

CONGRATULATIONS AMERICA!

In spite of our differences on this post ( that includes Prof Chazelle, the commenters and the readers who did not comment ), it is a great day for us ( and those who do not agree with this statement, I hope, will eventually have reason to believe it ). One could not remain detached from the excitement and electricity felt in Grant Park last night...people screaming, dancing, crying, young and old and in between, crowd of great diversity. The most encouraging thing was the number of young people, full of joy and hope and wanting to be a part of this peaceful revolution. Have never seen anything like it ever. I hope, after the celebrations are over, each one of us is asked to contribute something tangible so we can be a part of history in the making.

Posted by Rupa Shah at November 5, 2008 08:55 AM


After all the good sense that been said on this blog, I am amazed at Bernard's ability to cling to error. Worse, though, his own delusions about the nature of blackness -- the implicit idea that it somehow is a greater virtue than personal integrity -- utterly destroys the notion that mere education makes for a stronger voting population. Do you really think that what Black Americans need is inspiration? Tell you what: you give blacks the several trillion dollars of goods and opportunities denied by institutional racism in the 20th century to present day (notice that this does not include slavery; I doubt whites could afford the price tag there) and blacks will work hard to create more white icons to be impressed by. For every billion, you get a Lance Armstrong.

We just had an election that allowed one to choose the speeches that will accompany overseas (and some domestic) murder. The winner had worked so hard to avoid committing any resources to combat racial injustice that white people like Bernard are waxing poetic about how "inspirational" he is instead of citing policies he supports.

Bernard actually makes me miss some of the racist whites I've met. They always had an edge to their voice, a little tremor that suggested they're wrong. There was potential there. But a well-off white guy who takes smug satisfaction that a vote for a black candidate is a gift to black people -- despite the fact that the candidate's policies are horrible for blacks -- such a white guy cannot be reasoned with. He'll pull out some bullshit reason to back the wrong horse in every primary, where the real work needs to be done, and you'll never reach him.

It is about the black kid in the department store.

Bernard, if my race makes me more like the black kid in the department store than you are -- and you are strongly implying it does, since you took ethics and integrity out of the picture -- then on that child’s behalf, may I say, fuck you: I don’t want your uplifting PR hackery,I want your stuff. Your opportunities, your social influence, that you gain by dint of melanin content. Fuck your platitudes. It would be better if you hadn’t offered them in the first place.

bad examples. The votes that gave us Condi and Colin were not based on skin color. They were votes for white men.

In other words, votes for white men were made mostly to help white people.

So let me ask: Why is a vote based on skin color necessarily prejudicial?

Because if you vote for a “black” man who is going to hurt black people with his policies and help (some) white people with his policies, then you’re still voting for the white man. Silber’s blog is linked right there, on your left. WTF Bernard.

Feeling is all Bernard, and far too many white liberals, seem to care about:

Re. Palin, I kind of liked her, to be frank, though I felt sorry for the caribou.

(Jesus. I disliked her because she’s a bad person. What the hell was I thinking? But back to the topic at hand.)

So, since feeling is the virtue of the day, once more with feeling:

Blacks do not need inspiration. Blacks need justice.

Posted by No One of Consequence at November 5, 2008 09:00 AM
Blacks need justice

Fuck man, I often see things your way, but I've seen that word here often enough that I need to inquire about what it means.

I know you're pedantic because you gave me solid shit for what capitalism is vs. what I feel it is based on social vernacular, so now I need to understand the definition of "justice" vs what you think it is when you bold it in your NooC view. (And not just you, but it's appeared a few places upthread as well so anyone can jump in.)

Posted by Labiche at November 5, 2008 09:11 AM

may I say, fuck you: I don’t want your uplifting PR hackery,I want your stuff

NooC, I appreciate these aren't subjects that lend themselves to niceness and gentility. And certainly I believe sharp disagreements should always be clearly stated, not fudged. But please see my motherly nagging, above.

Posted by Jonathan Schwarz at November 5, 2008 09:36 AM

That's the best excuse for supporting the war-on-terra Middle East bloodbath I've read today.

And you just know Alan cries himself to sleep every night, thinking about all the victims of American imperialism. Oh, wait, you mean he doesn't? You say he just uses that as an excuse to puff up his own ego, to boast of how superior he is to everyone else? What a shock.

The reason one could be happy today is that it's slightly easier for a strong, well-organized social activist movement to pressure a President Obama from the left than it would have been for a McCain or Palin. Of course, that means we'll have to spend the next four years working our asses of to make that happen, now, doesn't it, Alan? And why do I have the feeling that you aren't going to do anything of the sort? Why do I suspect you're going to spend that time blowing your own horn in blog comment sections, just like you are now?

Oh, that's right - because you're a lazy sack of narcissistic shit who only cares about being able to say "IwasrightItoldyousoyousuckyousuck!", over and over ad infinitum. Grow up, little boy. You and Perrin and all the other morons from IOZ's clown car can sit around giving each other congratulatory tugjobs for the next four years, and it isn't going to help any of those people you shed crocodile tears for. This country isn't remotely liberal enough to elect anyone like a Socialist or a Green. Why don't you try working to change that instead of whinging in cyberspace?

Posted by anon at November 5, 2008 10:00 AM

you're a lazy sack of narcissistic shit

Please see my admonitions, above.

Posted by Jonathan Schwarz at November 5, 2008 10:08 AM

For Obama, I am interested in what was necessary to get elected versus what is necessary to run the country. Saying that he was for fighting the war on terror didn't cost Obama a dime. How he implements what he says is what counts. I'm not saying he won't be onboard with the generals and intelligence agencies (I don't know), I'm saying that he won't necessarily be onboard in more than words. The Repubs passed legislation for Everybody Votes and No Child Left Behind so we know that what politicians say and what they do are often different.

+++

What I am hoping is that there is nationwide legislation and action (like prosecutions of criminal vote-suppressors) to ensure that our democracy functions honestly in the next election. My guess is that millions of Dem votes were shaved from the roles or in the machines yesterday.

+++

And I would like scientific research as to why and how Repubs are so successful in getting people to vote with their amygdalas and not their frontal lobes. Seriously, in the end that's all the Republicans had: FEAR. And fear still works. Thirty percent of Texans still think Obama is a Muslim and they're afraid of that. In Minnesota that lunatic Rep. who was claiming that there were un-American traitors in Congress got reelected. Here in California the swell of newly registered black voteers who weren't afraid of a black President were afraid of gay marriages.

We live in a house of fear. Scary, eh?

Posted by Bob In Pacifica at November 5, 2008 10:22 AM

Wow! Some of you really have issues...

Posted by Bernard Chazelle at November 5, 2008 10:33 AM

BobIP: As this page attests, fear and lunacy are still alive and well in this country.

One problem with elections is that they've become absurdly self-referential. The only goal of running for president is to get elected. Obama was even more transparent about it than his predecessors by having a program that was entirely vacuous. So technically speaking, Obama cannot fail. I think he promised to be president, if elected. That's it. And even there, he was somewhat noncommittal.

Posted by Bernard Chazelle at November 5, 2008 10:49 AM

CONGRATULATIONS DEMS!!! Well fought campaign and U beat out Diebold AND Fear. Good Luck!

Posted by Mike Meyer at November 5, 2008 11:09 AM

Alaya, take a fuckin statistics course and we'll talk again.

Posted by mnuez at November 5, 2008 12:22 PM

take a fuckin statistics course

I don't know how many times this needs to be said, but I'm not paying a whole TEN DOLLARS A MONTH in order to provide people a place to scream at strangers. To everyone involved: start treating your fellow bipeds civilly, or go away.

Posted by Jonathan Schwarz at November 5, 2008 12:57 PM

Bernard: Wow! Some of you really have issues...

I think it's less a matter of issues, as commonly understood, and more a matter of evolution not preparing humans to communicate without visual and tonal cues. In person I'm sure everyone here is perfectly nice, and able to keep whatever troublesome aspects of their personalities exist under wraps.

Posted by Jonathan Schwarz at November 5, 2008 01:03 PM

Mr. Schwarz you are losing the class.

Posted by sloweducation at November 5, 2008 01:10 PM

Right now at CNN, it says that Obama won 53% and McCain won 46% which is consistent with the pre election polls. It would have pissed me off if Obama had lost even though I didn't vote for him. I'm glad there was not any "Bradley Effect" but I am disappointed that some of the other candidates didn't get more votes.

More than anything, these elections just seem to be long and exhausting. I woke up this morning and didn't feel like doing anything. I think we're all a little worn out.

Posted by cemmcs at November 5, 2008 01:18 PM

>> these elections just seem to be long and exhausting

I know what you mean. Obama has been with us for so long already it feels almost like he'll begin his second term in January.

Posted by Bernard Chazelle at November 5, 2008 01:24 PM

People are weird. Is it really that important to justify your own fear of black men? Just look at the tables. You stated that white women are a hundred times more likely to be raped by a black man than a black woman is to be raped by a white man. First, black women report their rapes at a drastically lower rate (7% of them, compared to 42% in the general population). Second, despite that, the DOJ tables barely show a disparity, let alone one of 10,000%. Notice the asterisks marking data points where they are extrapolating from less than ten sample cases. Now, I ain't a statistician, but I'd say that qualifies as Not Statistically Significant.

Posted by Alaya at November 5, 2008 01:37 PM

Superdelegate Fidel Castro endorsed Barack Obama yesterday.

All the world with Obama.

Posted by Eugeny at November 5, 2008 01:56 PM

The enormity of what has happened tody in American Politics or was it yesterday for the black man or woman can really only be truly grasped by the black community or any other person that has felt discrimination

It is about possibilities

It's about having a role model you can hold up and say if he can be the president, then I can overcome all racial bias and achieve my dreams

It's about two hundred years that still have a large impact on how we, the black people, are perceived

Whatever he does not, Obama has already made a difference

Posted by Ami at Niche Traffic Guide at November 5, 2008 03:03 PM

I don't know how many times this needs to be said, but I'm not paying a whole TEN DOLLARS A MONTH in order to provide people a place to scream at strangers.

So if I send you ten bucks for your hosting expenses (and even buy a copy of Mein Kampf), may I continue to call Alan Smithee the names he so richly deserves?

Posted by anon at November 5, 2008 04:25 PM

Don't sweat it, Jonathan. It's just a no-life leftover pwoggie lip-frother from pff.

Posted by AlanSmithee at November 5, 2008 05:15 PM

It's just a no-life leftover pwoggie lip-frother from pff.

...says the guy who repeats the same basic comment over and over like he thinks he's saying something interesting.

It's a very simple concept, junior: as things stand, if all the genuine leftists in this country heeded the call of Alan Smithee and treated the voting booth as a chance to make a Significant Personal Statement to prove our purity, we wouldn't accomplish jack shit. Therefore, there's a lot of work to be done, work which will be a slight bit easier with a Democrat in office who might be more open to a strong movement influencing him. So are you actually going to be doing anything like that, or, as I said, do you only care about fluffing your own ego? Try to answer without your usual lame IOZian attempts at insults.

Posted by anon at November 5, 2008 06:08 PM

Between this post and Nader's calling Obama an Uncle Tom, if we went to Edward Said's grave we could harvest the energy from all the spinning he's doing.

Posted by Dan Coyle at November 5, 2008 06:19 PM

it's slightly easier for a strong, well-organized social activist movement to pressure a President Obama from the left than it would have been for a McCain

Yeah, remember how energised liberals (you seem to be confusing them with the left) were under Clinton? Good times. "I strongly disapprove of this policy." "Sssshhh! You want us to lose access?"

Anon's one of those people who'd call you a narcissist for throwing your vote away on Gandhi when everyone can see Mussolini's a better candidate than Hitler.

Please note, yet again, that lesser-evilism is a product of your stupid electoral system and NOTHING ELSE, and consequently can't be used as a basis for seizing the moral high-ground.

Expect more of anon's kind of stuff; the psychologists call it "post-decision attitude change" - so much more pleasurable than buyer's remorse.

Posted by RobWeaver at November 5, 2008 10:25 PM

Labiche at November 5, 2008 09:11 AM:

I know you're pedantic because you gave me solid shit for what capitalism is vs. what I feel it is based on social vernacular, so now I need to understand the definition of "justice" vs what you think it is when you bold it in your NooC view. (And not just you, but it's appeared a few places upthread as well so anyone can jump in.)

Fair enough. By justice, I mean empirical benefits. If, all other things being equal, people of your skin color get better jobs than people of my skin color, that is unjust. If, all things being equal, people of your skin color get less exposure to pollution than people of mine, that is unjust.

You can exchange race for wealth. It does not matter.

I am not defining justice overly thoroughly. I am, instead, emphasizing its substantive nature. You can measure it. You can fix it with money. Hell, most of the time it is money. Think of it this way: if someone recklessly hit you and your family while you were in a car -- assume the person was belligerent and drinking -- and did severe damage and was found, in a court of law, to be at fault, justice in the civil case that results wouldn’t be the mere verdict in your favor. Justice would be the pain and suffering damages. The money.

It is necessary to emphasize this aspect because when people who haven’t been wrong here bullshitty happy-talk about progress, they mistake those good feelings for justice for those who have been wrong.

That’s why I said “I want your stuff.” It would be more accurate to say “I want your privileges.”

A black president will not destroy those privileges, any more than a string of white presidents made being poor and white endless fun.

I can’t speak as to how other posters have been using the term “justice.”

Shifting subjects:

I am ignoring the out-and-out bigots on the site (how the hell did they get here?); they don’t have as big of a political impact as well-heeled white liberals backing tokens over people with actual personal integrity. I do have to note that RobWeaver above was right just now. Worse, the view he espouses has been right for so freakn’ long that I’m sick of hearing the argument.

It seems everyone missed the part of MLK’s speech about “content of his character.” I’m sure thousands of soon-to-be-dead Iraqi children can appreciate the irony of a black man being elected president specifically because whites refused to look at his ethics -- or the ethics of any other candidate for that matter.

Posted by No One of Consequence at November 6, 2008 12:16 AM

i voted for obama JUST so that i would feel bad if he turned out to be as horrible as possible. voting for good people who lose doesn't get me high enough anymore...!

Posted by hapa at November 6, 2008 03:30 AM

NooC thanks for taking the time for the explanation. I appreciate it.

I rely on vernacular definitions:

1. Just = close to fair
2. Justice = related to the execution of law (or lawful definition of fairness)
3. Fair = equitable in some sense

You can measure it. You can fix it with money. Hell, most of the time it is money. Think of it this way: if someone recklessly hit you and your family while you were in a car -- assume the person was belligerent and drinking -- and did severe damage and was found, in a court of law, to be at fault, justice in the civil case that results wouldn’t be the mere verdict in your favor. Justice would be the pain and suffering damages. The money*.

You wind up relying on the legal definition of justice because you expect that law will enforce the claim of equitibility. I'm thinking.

I just think that "justice" is an emotional word that tends to mean subjective things based on the emotional state.

I'm a late comer to the US so I tend to view my obligation to the offended differently -- i.e I worked the shit jobs and paid my dues differently and at different rates than an academic with a strong sense of historic aggrievence might. If the academic feels historically guilty for not paying enough then that's a personal matter, but me -- courtesy of the shit shoveling jobs, I think that particular bill is NPD, or at least different then someone gone through life without the shit tasks.

That's not to say that I won't throw some copper to make things righter (lefter), but the academic lecturing on ethics from above tends to make my back arch when justice is based on the academic definitions versus vernacular ones.
-------
* Pain and suffering = Money? How about if I exact fairness by demanding that they go through pain and suffering?

If pain and suffering = money, it's easy to see that we'd soon reduce human life (and quality of life) to some fucked up table of equivalences per Larry Summer's memo for example. One American = 20 Palestinians = 40 Somalis = 2 Jews = 1.5 Europeans = 1.75 Japanese, etc...

Posted by Labiche at November 6, 2008 08:13 AM

Money is the only way we can fix things, Labiche. We can't go back in time and undo a crime or wrong: the best we can do is fix the damage. I'm not relying on a legal definition, though my notions of justice are similar to that of legal equity. What I am saying is that a material harm requires a material remedy. If I burn down your house, sorry doesn't cut it. I owe you a new house and any costs incurred while you had to stay with friends or at hotels. My apology doesn't mean a damn thing.

Pain and suffering don't equal money, but the only remedy humanity has to physical harm is mediated through money. It's a step removed, a bit like how Christian scriptures don't say that "money is the root of all evil" but that the love of money is the root. We are using words like Summers does but that doesn't mean we're anything like Summers. If Bush talks about "justice" does that make MLK's speeches about justice lies?

Summers is judging the value of other human beings to himself; that's why he's a pile of excrement. He's not saying people = money. He's saying, "other people are money -- or lost money -- to me." I am saying that money is how we're forced to measure harm to others. Because people are important to you and I, supremely important I'd assume, we measure harm to people in terms of the most important resource we have: money.

While one's individual social dues could vary depend upon how lucky he or she is in life, I wasn't talking about that. I was talking about the obligation the U.S. has to blacks in particular. When Bernard implied that he voted for Obama for the sake of blacks, however, he made it clear that he had an individual obligation to adress that socieatal obligation. And it's clear he thoroughly fucked it. Worse, he, of all people, being an academic with a good deal of knowledge about our culture should understand why he made a crucial error. But not only does he not recognize it, he's happy that he's hurt the people he claims to have helped out. I do not speak to your (or my) social dues: if you start crooning smugly about the difference you made for a race other than your own by supporting an unethical politician, I might then have some criticism for you. Until then, no worries.

Posted by No One of Consequence at November 6, 2008 02:06 PM

I for one plan to influence Obama's decisionmaking not by adolescent IOZian blogging but by signing petitions. Not just signing them but signing them FURIOUSLY.

Eat that, nihilists.

Posted by progblogger! at November 6, 2008 06:16 PM

I for one plan to influence Obama's decisionmaking not by adolescent IOZian blogging but by signing petitions. Not just signing them but signing them FURIOUSLY.

Well, that's your choice. I myself have decided my limited time on earth will be much better spent making snippy blog comments.

Posted by Jonathan Schwarz at November 6, 2008 09:09 PM

To each his own, Jon! As the quoted commenter demonstrates, though, for some proggies encouraging petitions is only a stalking horse for the real issue, which is finding someone on the left to triangulate against. That isn't you. But if you want to be a real progblogger, you have to add to your humble and unobjectionable encouragement of petition-signing or any other political activity the endless denunciation of anyone who questions its efficacy, carrying the antiIozshrieking and Naderbaiting into every conversation, into everyone else's comment box, and vowing to pursue Dennis Perrin and Alan Smithee to the ends of the earth. When someone asks you how exactly petitions will hold Obama's feet to the fire if you have agreed in advance to enforce votes for Dems no matter what their political behavior, you are required to shriek, "Adolescent! Preening! Masturbatory!"

Hey, I didn't make the rules. I just make fun of them.

Posted by progblogger! at November 7, 2008 04:37 PM

Now that everyone's spent, let's take it full circle.

"your cautions are justified.

if nothing else, though, imho, obama's candidacy and his presidency (enshallah) will bring empowerment to a significant number of people who will be moved to ask "what's needed right here in my community" and do something to make that happen.

i'm one of those people.

president obama cannot be all things to all people but, if nothing else, he has lit a fire of inspiration that hopefully will burn brightly and effectively for a long time to come."

I would not ask that he be all things to all people.

Refraining from murdering innocents abroad is a reasonable starting point.

Considering Obama's:
• performance like a trained seal before AIPAC;
• support for an unprecedented, unconditional transfer of wealth to his busted Wall Street buddies;
• commitment to expanding the war in Afghanistan
• support of, and assistance to, The Surveillance State;
• refusal to hold the Bush Administration responsible for its crimes against the public and against the people of other nations;
et cetera

... it's safe to say the need for caution passed some time ago. These are the things which reveal the content of Obama's character. They are not good.

And never have I wanted to be more wrong.

Posted by Arvin Hill at November 8, 2008 12:19 AM