Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Barack and Andy

It occurs to me that liberals attempt to prove global warming in the same way that they do the existence of an institutionalized bias against African Americans. They seek to demonstrate that global warming is occurring by merely pointing to the thermometer. Similarly, race-obsessed blacks describe (certain) disparities between the races as evidence of systemic racism.

In neither case does the existence of variance or change indicate an untoward effort on the part of either men or systems. Even as thermometers can measure neither intent nor culpability, so it is with so-called objective assessments of the state of black America. Quantifiables that describe the circumstances of groups do not in and of themselves speak to causation, as that must be discerned as a separate matter. At best they imply correlation, or just as often mere coincidence.

The same cannot be said for the behavior of individuals. To be sure, we judge human beings both by their actions and their motivations, which for the most part are readily identifiable. So while we cannot completely explain why Hillary Clinton polls better among African Americans - especially among African American women - than does Barack Obama (as noted by the Chicago Tribune), we can attempt to understand what motivates individual blacks to support Sen. Clinton's presidential candidacy over that of Sen. Obama.

At issue as of late is Andrew Young's "endorsement" of Hillary (see video from The Newsmakers Journal.) Although the interview between Young and the Journal's Maynard Eaton took place earlier in the year, it made news over the weekend, if for no other reason that as an exemplar of the tortured reasoning that underlies the Clinton campaign. In comments that were ostensibly intended to support Hillary, Young mentioned that the greatest asset of her candidacy is that she would have her husband supporting her. In so doing, Young addressed the conundrum of the Clinton campaign; in order to win, Hillary needs to appear both independent of and derivative of her husband and his presidency.

By my lights, Young's most troubling comment was that he wanted Obama to be president "in 2016." He noted that Obama lacks "a certain level of maturity." (Hopefully Obama lacks the type of "maturity" that would cause him to engage in sexual trysts with 20-something White House interns.) Young also cited the absence of a network that could support Obama should he become president, positing that "to put a brother in there by himself is to set him up for crucifixion."

While I consider an Obama presidency - either in 2008 or at any point thereafter - nothing to be devoutly wished, I do not desire for him a "crucifixion" should he leap the chasm between candidate and incumbent. My differences with Sen. Obama have been discussed abundantly elsewhere; Mr. Young considers none of these, but advises Obama to mark political time entirely because it's Hillary's turn (which is to say that it is time for a second turn for Bill.)

Sadly, the idea of blacks waiting their turn is hardly a novel one. Andrew Young is uniquely positioned to know as much, as his greatest claim to fame was as one of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King's
stalwarts. King himself addressed the notion of African Americans biding their time in pursuit of racial justice in his Letter from Birmingham Jail. Written as an open letter in response to eight white Alabama clergymen who argued that Dr. King's non-violent protests in Birmingham were "unwise and untimely," King argued "there comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of dispair."

We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was "well timed" in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word "Wait!" It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This "Wait" has almost always meant "Never." We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that "justice too long delayed is justice denied."
It is a bitter an irony that one of Dr. King's lieutenants would exhort the most legitimate presidential candidate that black America has every proffered to wait for "his time." My sense is that Mr. Young has become what he had once boldly fought against. Having done well personally as a former U.N. Ambassador, Mayor of Atlanta, and a businessman, Young has become comfortable with the ossified politics of compromise, and has seemingly made peace with his place on the outskirts of the Clintons' circle of influence. Sadly, Young's opinion more accurately reflects his own desire to maintain his access (however distant) to privilege, and says little about his concerns for the aspirations of African Americans.

And so we wait. We wait for the modern-day minstrelsy of black liberals to cease. We wait for the craven calculations of African American politicians to come to an end. And we wait - as Dr. King would have - for candidates to be judged by the content of their character as opposed to the fabric of their networks.

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