It isn’t my intention to push down the lower posts. But Rikyrah specifically requested this particular smackdown. — dnA

For the first time in American history, a black man has secured a place on a major party ticket. Juan Williams isn’t happy about this though, and demands that Obama needs to do a lot more apologizing for black people everywhere.

To deal with this controversy effectively, Mr. Obama needs to give another speech. This time he has to admit to sins of using race for political expediency – by knowingly buying into divisive, mean messages being delivered from the pulpit. He has to say that, as a biracial young man with no community roots, attaching himself to Rev. Wright and the Trinity congregation was a shortcut to move up the ladder in the Chicago political scene. He has to call race-baiting what it is, whether it comes from a pulpit or calls itself progressive politics. And he has to challenge his supporters, especially his black base, to be honest about real problems at the heart of today’s racial divide – including out-of-wedlock births, crime, drugs and a culture that devalues education while glorifying the gangster life.

Actually, it’s not Obama’s job to “call race baiting what it is.” His job is to provide a compelling policy agenda to the American people. It’s telling that after years of professing loyalty to King’s Dream, Williams demands that Obama, because he’s black, set the record straight on what “America’s racial divide is” (In Williams view, exclusively the result of black pathology). Why exactly, does McCain not have to do that? Why isn’t McCain responsible for American racial reconcilation? Why isn’t Williams demanding that McCain take on problems he sees as specific to the black community?

The short answer is that Williams sees Obama as answerable to everything black people do simply because he’s black. McCain, because he’s white, doesn’t have to offer any kind of solution to the race problem, because white people don’t actually have one!

There’s more:

Mr. Obama also has to raise the bar for how political criticism is handled in his camp. Step one is to acknowledge that not every critic is a racist. His very liberal record and his limited experience, like his association with Rev. Wright, is a fact, not the work of white racists. Just as he calls for the GOP not to engage in the politics of fear over terrorism, Mr. Obama needs to declare that he will refrain from playing the racial victim, because he understands such tactics will paralyze political debate and damage race relations.

Even when the criticisms of him were blatantly so, Obama never said they were racist. Sure, shrill bloggers like me did, but despite being Jewish I don’t actually control the media, so it’s probably more true that people decided independently that the racist things people were saying were racist.

As I’ve argued before, it’s in Obama’s interest to downplay the racial element, but it’s in that of his opponents to keep the argument focused on race. Which is the entire point of this Op-Ed, to distract from a substantive policy debate which McCain would surely lose in favor of getting everyone angry at Obama for talking about Iraq and healthcare, when he should be talking about how goddamn fucked up black people are! Williams swears he hates “black leaders” but he stays trying to turn any black man with ten minutes of air time into a spokesperson for the black race. Once again, not Obama’s job, any more than it’s McCain’s job to speak for white people everywhere.

It’s tremendous that after all that Obama has accomplished, Williams would demand that he refrain from “playing the racial victim”. The man just secured the Democratic nomination for President of the United States. There is no more profound example of individual black self-determination in recent history. But Williams makes Obama sound like he’s spent his life waiting for a welfare check.

Furthermore, Williams is seeking no such confirmation about the use of race in the campaign from the candidate representing the party of Jesse Helms and Willie Horton. (And nor should he, since, race-baiting as defined by Juan Williams occurs only in black pulpits and “progressive politics”.) There is an extra set of rules that Williams demands black people follow that white people don’t have to. He is in fact, demanding that Obama be judged by the color of his skin rather than the content of his character.

Only by admitting to his own sins can Mr. Obama credibly claim that he has seen the promise of our country, in which Americans of all colors work together. Only then can he convince dubious white voters that he is ready to move beyond racial antagonism and be their president.

Yes, Obama is a terribly ungreatful Negro who never recognizes the promise of America, he just talks about it all the time.

For all the criticism offered by conservatives about liberal voters seeking absolution through Obama, I can’t imagine how demanding penance in lieu of forgiveness is any different.

The biggest victim of all however, is Juan Williams, who can’t be proud of black people, no matter what they accomplish. Someone needs to set up a romantic candlelight dinner for Pat Buchanan and Juan Williams so that Buchanan can get that apology he’s been begging for.

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