The fact that a black man is a serious contender for the U.S. presidency is a historic achievement that signifies progress in race relations. But in emphasizing Barack Obama’s skin color around the clock, the media, some Democratic politicians, and to some extent Obama himself, have magnified rather than diminished the racial divide.
At some point in our lives, most of us have come to recognize that in conversation, gratuitously identifying a person as being black is inappropriate. A person’s skin color is irrelevant. For that same reason, in considering a new CEO for a company, no one would be so classless as to mention race.
Yet one way or another, almost every mention of Obama in the media dwells on the fact that he is an African-American.
Democrats have done their share to contribute to the polarization. Bill Clinton compared Obama’s win in North Carolina to Jesse Jackson’s victories in that state. Geraldine Ferraro said that if Obama were white, he would not be where he is today.
While Obama generally avoids racial references, he has referred to himself as “a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him.”
Those around him have contributed to the racial divide. The Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., his former pastor, made his living by claiming that whites are oppressing blacks in America. Father Michael Pfleger, another spiritual mentor, mocked Hillary Clinton’s sense of white “entitlement” when a black man is “stealing [her] show.”
Michelle Obama said she is proud of America for the first time in her adult life because of Obama’s candidacy. By favoring him 9-to-1 at the voting booths, blacks make their own statement about his race.
Then there are those, like Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II, D-Mo., who say we should have “an honest, painful, and constructive conversation about race.”
What is there to discuss? To be sure, racism still exists. In one poll, 8 percent of whites said they would be uncomfortable voting for a black for president. But the good news is that, if that poll can be believed, the overwhelming majority of whites do not care about race.
Today, at most organizations, blacks if anything are given preference over whites when it comes to promotions.
That progress is threatened by the media’s constant focus on Obama’s race, stereotyping him as the black candidate and making everyone hypersensitive about race.
Those who plan to vote for Obama to demonstrate to the world that a black man can be president are free to do so. But the majority of Americans would like to base their decision on the candidate’s character, track record, and policies, rather than color.
When the media glorify Obama because he is black, white voters rightfully resent the implication that because Obama is black, he should be thought of as being somehow more worthy.
If a society that is not conscious of race is our goal, constantly focusing on Obama’s race is not the way to get there. More important, the round-the-clock fixation on race undermines the principle at issue in the first place: that all men are created equal.
Obama Is Not Muslim
We are all familiar with anonymous e-mails citing Barack Obama’s middle name of Hussein and claiming that he is a Muslim.
In fact, he is not.
His father was born a Muslim but considered himself an atheist. His mother was a Christian.
Obama says he found Christ through the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. and his Trinity United Church of Christ.
But almost as widespread as those e-mails is one that claims Obama wrote in his book "The Audacity of Hope," that “I will stand with the Muslims should the political winds shift in an ugly direction.”
That is completely untrue.
In fact, what Obama wrote on Page 261 of the book is quite reasonable. He said that after 9/11, Arab and Pakistani Americans worried about FBI questioning and “hard stares” from neighbors. Obama said they need “specific reassurances that their citizenship really means something, that America has learned the right lessons from the Japanese internments during World War II, and that I will stand with them should the political winds shift in an ugly direction.”
Anti-Muslim prejudice undermines the war on terror by confusing Muslim extremists who are our enemies with moderate Muslims whom we need on our side.
Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com. View his previous reports and get his dispatches sent to you free via
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