Race has intruded as the definitive issue in the 2008 presidential campaign. Trying to sort it out in black-or-white terms could drive a person colorblind. If it has become racist not to vote for a black, will that automatically make John McCain, who will have been white for 72 years, guilty of suborning racism when he accepts the Republican Party’s nomination in September?
Those conundrums demand re-examination of long-held concepts of race. But, be warned: Committing the unpopularity of even mulling such unthinkable questions aloud in public can get you called a racist at the drop of a slur.
Obama’s campaign for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination is based on the dubious premise that it symbolizes America’s overdue passage across a historic threshold from race-consciousness into race-unconsciousness.
Yet, in stark contradiction, almost everything about Obama’s candidacy keeps focusing on the half-truth that he’s the black candidate. The more he harps on being “trans-racial” — whatever that means — the more he calls attention to his color, not as an irrelevant incidental but as his overriding attribute.
He, himself, has said he was questioned early in his political life whether he was “black enough.” He didn’t mean the shade of his skin. He meant his political orientation. In the current lexicon of political correctness that Democrats have constructed for judging blacks on their blackness, the further left you are the blacker you are.
Thus, he compels voters to examine him closely as to his blackness. It is none other than Obama, therefore, who has made race the issue in this campaign.
In weighing his own degree of color — half white, half black — Obama chose to be judged as a black, even though he was raised by a white mother and white grandparents in a largely white culture. In a truly trans-racial culture, which he insists he symbolizes, he could have just as easily positioned himself as white.
Back in the hateful days of socially and legally enforced segregation, a baby born with the slightest trace of black heritage could not be a white, regardless of skin hue. Whites considered it shameful to have even one drop of black blood. In some states, miscegenation was a felony. Blacks justifiably saw this as white racial supremacy.
Today, that table is overturned, at least for blacks. No matter how white-appearing, a person with scarcely any black DNA is now celebrated by blacks as a black, one of their own. So much for the arrival of a trans-racial America.
If logic should be colorblind, why then cannot both whites and blacks claim persons of lightly colored dark skin, such as Obama or the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, as . . . what? White? Black? Trans-racial? Non-racial? Simply humans?
Truth is, this country as a whole, or as a conglomerate of widely varying white and black cultural entities, has not yet arrived at a trans-racial state of grace.
So, blacks continue to vote almost unanimously for Obama, regardless of how black he may or may not appear to the eye. One thing is clear: Blacks voting for Obama are voting for one far-left politician, thus inflicting upon themselves yet another racial stereotype (black equals left) for yet another election cycle.
Whites who vote for McCain because he is not black are equally reprehensible.
Were race still not a suffocating factor, Clinton would have more black votes. After all, given her political history, she is nothing if not leftist (equals black).
Perhaps, before this campaign is over on Nov. 4, enough blacks and whites will have reached the conclusion to elect a president, regardless of race, whose race will not dictate the policies in the Oval Office for the next four, or eight, years.
John L. Perry, a prize-winning newspaper editor and writer who served on White House staffs of two presidents, is a regular columnist for Newsmax.com.
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