January 3, 2007

White Guilt, Obamamania, and the Reality of Race

My new VDARE.com column: An excerpt:

White Guilt, Obamamania, and the Reality of Race

Sen. Barack Obama is a "wigger."

He's a remarkably exotic variety of the faux African-American, but a wigger nonetheless. He has no ancestors who were slaves in the U.S. Moreover, his upbringing by his white mother and Indonesian stepfather in Indonesia and by his white grandparents in Hawaii, where mixed-race children are close to the norm, was almost wholly divorced from African-American life … except for what he could see and aspire to on TV.

Even genetically, Obama, whose East African descent is apparent in his unusual features, has only a distant relationship to the West Africans who are the ancestors of almost all African-Americans...

But details like these just seem to make this nominal African-American that much more attractive to whites. So why are so many whites, especially in the media, excited about promoting Obama for President in 2008? The Barack Attack is similar to the Colin Craze of 1995...

Supporting Obama for President, like supporting Powell a decade ago, is seen by many whites as the ultimate in White Guilt Repellent.

It's important to understand, however, that White Guilt is very different from, say, Catholic Guilt, which consists of straightforward feelings of personal moral failure. In comparison, I don't recall ever meeting any white person who personally felt guilty for the troubles of African-Americans.

But I've known many whites who want to loudly blame other whites for black difficulties. ... In other words, White Guilt is just another ploy in the Great American White Status Struggle, in which minorities are merely props for asserting moral superiority over other whites. ...

Plus, I suspect there's an even more hidden reason many whites wish Obama is elected President ... [More]


My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

36 comments:

jerrylv3 said...

So what exactly is the point of your article? That races will never get along?

Anonymous said...

I don't quite understand what makes Obama so popular from a racial perspective. His dad displayed a complete lack of parental investment, and any intelligence that he has could have come from his mom. How would this improve race politics in America?

Anonymous said...

"So what exactly is the point of your article? That races will never get along?"

There is not much that can be done to fix the race problems in this country.

About the only thing that can be done is to limit the amount of "diversity" in this country by limiting immigration.

Jewish Atheist said...

Funny how you mention neither Obama's charisma nor hopeful message nor the desperation many Democrats feel for a winning candidate.

You blithely declare that white people like him because (1) they want to say they voted for a black guy and (2) to prove to African-Americans that "white animus isn't the cause of their troubles." Since that's the thesis of your column, one might expect you to bring a shred of evidence -- an anecdote even -- that a substantial proportion of Obama's white supporters share those motives, yet you don't even make an attempt.

Simon said...

I'm not even American (Ulster Brit), but I still have that liberal fantasy about an African-American US President; whether Colin Powell, Condi Rice or now Barrack Obama. I'm not sure what the motivation is - that it would be good for America, that it might go some way to mending America's appalling race relations. Realistically, a competent and non-corrupt black President might do that, and for all I or anyone knows, Obama might be competent and non-corrupt - there doesn't seem any evidence either way as yet. Equally realistically, a Dinkins or Barry in the White House could make US race relations even worse.

I guess I'm going to go with clan loyalty and back Virginia Senator Jim 'Born Fighting' Webb for the White House. As AmCon said, Go Webb Go... >:)

Anonymous said...

"Since that's the thesis of your column, one might expect you to bring a shred of evidence..."

The thesis of the column is that token appointments of minority candidates do nothing to solve the real problems that underlie race relations.

Please, reread the article, and pay special attention to the last part.

Anonymous said...

"I'm not sure what the motivation is - that it would be good for America, that it might go some way to mending America's appalling race relations."

How is a token appointment of someone who is mariginally black going to mend America's race relations? Jeez, you liberals really to live in fantasy land.

Lysander Spooner said...

I think the conclusion Steve posits is rather obvious; not to mention perceptive.

In essence, Barack Obama, rather than being a legitimate presidential candidate at this point in his political career (to say nothing of whether he will ever reach such a status) is little more than a symbolic candidate gaining momentum in large part from the support of a certain caste of white liberals.

Upper middle class, white, egalitarian leftists are positively giddy at the opportunity to throw their support behind Mr. Obama because of WHAT he is, rather than WHO he is.

He's black, though not BLACK black; Harvard educated, lingusitically white-sounding, non-threatening: the perfect example of what the supporters of the blank slate theory of race and genetics presuppose any and all young black men could be if only there were more social programs, better-funded public schools, etc.

He owes his existence (quite literally) to multiculturalism, immigration and student visas, and the aforementioned liberal whites can evidence their support for said policies simply by voting for him.

Barack Obama is trendy, exotic and dark-roasted.

Quite simply put, Mr. Obama is the fair trade coffee of the 2008 presidential campaign.

Oh sure, purchasing fair trade coffee might not actually DO very much and you might not be sure what the company actually stands for or where specifically the money goes, but goldarned it simply having purchased fair trade coffee lets everyone around you know that they are dealing with a magnanimous and morally superior individual.

It's much the same with supporting Obama. No one is quite sure what his political ideology is (Is he a DLC centrist? A left-wing Christian?) or what he stands for, but supporting Barack is proof that one is both fashionable and progressive. And while the election of a President Obama might not do a single thing to heal black/white racial discord (given that he's a potential black occupant of the Oval Office receiving lukewarm interest from the African American community-
Obamas toughest sell),
his supporters needn't worry themselves with such superfluous details.

They will have voted for Barack Obama; they know the plight of people of color. They're not like those OTHER white people. They address their gardeners and doormen informally, and might even drop in a "bro" or a Shaft or Motown reference when discussing last night's Knicks game.

They, like Obama, are the anointed.


Oy, I can only pray Jim Webb turns out to be half decent on immigration and throws his hat into the ring.

Lysander Spooner said...

What the hell?

Lysander Spooner said...

Apparently Blogger is none too please with the length of my name.

Feel free to delete these last two posts.

Thanks!

Finn said...

Of course Obama is black. His father ran out on him when he was only 2 years old and he was raised mostly by his grandparents.

James Kabala said...

I don't want to sound PC here, but for quite some time white racists employed the "one drop" rule as a weapon against the partially black. Obama, Woods, and Berry would all have been regarded as black in the segregated South with the attendant disadvantages (like Homer Plessy of Plessy v. Ferguson fame, who at one-eighth black was less black than any of them). Now that the one drop rule can actually be used for advantage instead of being a social curse, why shouldn't the part-black seize the opportunity? I commend Woods for resisting this temptation, but I don't resent or condemn Obama and Berry for going along with it.

Leonard said...

People like Obama because he a dark horse. Of course that is in a sense literal, which is new. But it is also figurative; the nature of the modern political system in America is that the more of a political record you have, the harder it is to get elected president.

That is one reason Bush is president now. Back in 2000, he didn't really have that much of a record. This made him hard to criticize; hard to pin down.

Of course, being a credible dark horse is more than just having no record; on just that basis, almost everyone in the US would do. The problem is: how do you stand out of a crowd, if 'distinction' is based essentially on inoffensiveness? In abstract terms, it's a paradox. Of course in the real world, there are other desiderata. Obama, of course, has race on his side.

Jewish Atheist said...

Obama is simply the only Democratic presidential candidate (other than John Edwards, who is tainted from 2004) with serious charisma. Democrats desperately want to win and their last candidate was known for his charisma. It doesn't matter what he stands for -- not because he's black, but because he's perceived to be electable. There's no need to guess at hidden or unconscious motives.

Jewish Atheist said...

(I mean their last president, referring to B Clinton, not their last candidate who was known for anything BUT charisma.)

James said...

I love this country. A few days ago I hear the Rev. Al Sharpton (no curses please) describe James Brown as black America's first star because Brown "wasn’t tall and light skinned with good hair. He looked like us." Then I come here (hello Mr. Sailer) and I find out the jr. senator from IL is a wigger. And a commentator decides to say that Obama is "black, though not BLACK black."

God bless America. You have always kept me amused.

Anonymous said...

Great Article. Funny how now one else is ever going to pick this up and when they do they'll be pinned down as racists too for pointing out these salient inconsisties between the real Obama and the Obama were supposed to know. He's piggingbacking on a primarily West-African American, Christian, with deep roots from the days of slavery, without actually addressing any of the typical qualifiers of an African American. Obama's already showing his politcal acumen by appealing to the emotions of otherwise intelligent people who fawn over him because of his race and charisma without actually knowing what, if anything, he stands for.

Bobby said...

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20061221/pl_afp/usvoteobamarace2008

Excellent article on black skepticism of Obama and the embrace of ignorant white liberals.

"In contrast to the effusive reception Obama has received from white Americans, many US blacks so far have been cool, saying that while they may share skin color with Obama, they do not have a common culture or history."

"Obama did not -- does not -- share a heritage with the majority of black Americans, who are descendants of plantation slaves," wrote African-American newspaper columnist Stanley Crouch last month in an article entitled "Barack Obama -- Not Black Like Me."

Anonymous said...

A wigger is a white person who acts black. Obama is a black person (not very black, but black enough) who acts white. He's an oreo, black on the outside white on the inside.

Obama - Oreo.
Eminem - Wigger.

Get it straight.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Sailer could, oh, I don't know, bother to quote and engage with what Obama himself has said on the subject? He's been asked this question straight up, and his answer has always been (quoting): "If I was arrested for armed robbery and my mug shot was on the television screen, people wouldn't be debating if I was African-American or not," Obama said. "I'd be a black man going to jail. Now if that's true when bad things are happening, there's no reason why I shouldn't be proud of being a black man when good things are happening, too."

Steve Sailer said...

As that Obama quote shows, a lot of his appeal is (viscerally) that he isn't an armed robber, which seems like a rather low bar. But, of course, what he's doing actually more subtle: he is hinting to whites that they should annoint him Role-Model-in-Chief for all black males, who will then stop knocking over 7-11s and start going to Harvard Law.

It's a pretty fantasy, but it's just a fantasy.

Anonymous said...

Barack Obama:
The politician who talks like Jesus and votes like Charles Rangel.

Chief Seattle said...

Steve, I'm a regular reader, and I appreaciate your stuff, but I've got to say, referring to someone as a "Wigger" is just childishly offensive. Blaming the MSM for fawning over Obama is one thing, raising questions about the man's heritage is another.

BTW I don't understand the Obama hype either. I just think Wigger is inflamatory and hurts the rest of your argument.

Anonymous said...

I remember the 70's when just about every major city got all excited about having a first black mayor. Naive hopes that the new role model for blacks and whites would make race like those subsets of Christianity--largely irrelevant today in spite of nasty things like the Thirty-years war and such. It didn't work out that way at all, and I don't see why a President would be different.

Anonymous said...

Actually, Obama seems to be pretty plainly stating that at the end of the day, the fact that he doesn't share a culture or even much of a genetic link to the bulk of America's African diaspora, in the eyes of white society he's just another black dude. Let Barack Obama and Eminem stand on adjacent New York streetcorners and see who gets a cab first, then tell me which one is the "wigger."

Anonymous said...

Eeek! Sorry for the incoherent sentence above. I meant to write "the fact that he doesn't share a culture or even much of a genetic link to the bulk of America's African diaspora is less imporant than the fact that in the eyes of white society he's just another black dude."

Apologies.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Chief Seattle.

Anonymous said...

Ha,Ha, Haaaaa!!!
“The ugly Americans” The Racist elite now lays deep within their layers
They are now more Cunning meek and humble mouthed, but their hearts are crammed with arrogance spleen and Greed.
Their psychoanalyst are working Overtime to torpedo Obama,
The have been playing at a level far above the Average American intellectual radar, pushing all this nation’s human subconscious fear buttons,
These boys are experts on herding the American people whenever and wherever direction they wish them to go. God Bless Freedom!!!! America style

Anonymous said...

I have a confession to make:

Almost none of the posts that you people have written makes any sense. I'll start with the most glaring deficiencies in logic and move downward...


1. Sen. Barack Obama is a "wigger."

Nope. A wigger is a white person who is acting black. Perhaps you were looking for Oreo?

2. He's a remarkably exotic variety of the faux African-American,

Well, he's certainly American. Are you then trying to say that he is not African? Well, his father is African. So he's American by nationality. He's African by blood. That makes him African-American.

3. He has no ancestors who were slaves in the U.S.

This does not negate his African -American identity in any way. A person who's ancestors came to the U.S. in 1901 is not any less white than a person who's ancestors came to the U.S. in 1701. If I remember correctly, Bush's ancestors came to the U.S. earlier than Kerrys. I wonder, were you writing blogs saying that Kerry was a Faux White American?

4. where mixed-race children are close to the norm,

Your link does nothing to indicate that mixed race children are the norm in Hawaii.

5. Even genetically, Obama, whose East African descent is apparent in his unusual features, has only a distant relationship to the West Africans

Another logical absurdity. Kenya is in Africa. His father is from Kenya. Therefore he is African-American. I'll use another example from your background. Most white Americans are descended from German and Irish immgrants. A person who has Polish ancestry is still called White. You would not call them Faux White.

6. So why are so many whites, especially in the media, excited about promoting Obama for President in 2008?

Cause he's the smartest of the Democrats in the field. He has highest academic credentials than the other candidates. And with the exception of Joe Biden has served more years in elected office.

7. Supporting Obama for President, like supporting Powell a decade ago, is seen by many whites as the ultimate in White Guilt Repellent.

White guilt is not a large factor in politics. If it were, Obama would not be the only African-American senator.

8. In contrast, like Oscar-winner Halle Berry, Obama identifies as black although that requires symbolically disowning his white mother and maternal grandparents

Identifying as Black does not require him to symbolically disown his white parents. The unfortunate reality of race in America makes it so that being black does not mean that your entire ancestry is black. While identifying oneself as white requires "pure" blood.

The point of your article seems to be that Obama is not black. You attack his genetic as well as his cultural background in an attempt to prove your point.

My question to you then is this: Would you feel more comfortable labelling him as white?

Steve Sailer said...

Racially, like Tiger Woods, Barack Obama is of mixed race. Ethnically, Obama's upbringing in Indonesia and Hawaii was even more remote from the typical African-American's than Tiger's was.

Lysander Spooner said...

While I suppose one could use "oreo" to define Mr. Obama, "wigger" is probably a more accurate description; here's why:

"Oreo" is a pejorative term that gets directed most often at black kids (usually of a working class or lower socioeconomic standing) residing in all-black or majority black settings. "Oreos" are said to be black on the outside but white on the inside because they take an interest in their educations, exceed in school, act politely (rather than in an overtly aggressive or "thuggish" manner), and use proper English (rather than Ebonics).

I'd stress two points here: Firstly, "oreo" really does have a socioeconomic component. Were you to conduct an informal survey at a historically black college like Hampton, whose student body has a reputation for being well heeled, I'd guess that very few of those matriculating would report having experienced the "oreo" epithet having been directed at them.

Upper class blacks who have attended private schools or public schools in well-to-do black communities are very unlikely to have been chastised for their work ethics or their commitment to their studies. Such students have likely grown up with parents who expect a certain degree of commitment to academic achievement (given that some degree of scholastic excellence was likely required to attain the parent's current social standing). In this sense upper-middle and upper class blacks tend to adhere to the white middle class's views on the importance of education.

The "oreo" epithet is far more likely to get tossed around in an all-black environment where a child who takes a keen interest in learning and his success in school is seen as deviating from the normative views of his peer group (i.e. a black, inner-city type setting).

Secondly, when use of the "oreo" epithet does arise, it's generally because the "oreo" is seen as failing to adhere to certain "codes of blackness"; particular traits, behaviors, and interests generally derived from the black underclass ghetto culture (and going further back, the plantation culture pre-Great Migration).

But here's the thing-

Barack Obama is in no way "black" in the sense that most African Americans view the term, and he has no connection to the generationally-inherited societal/community traits, interests and behaviors of the black community.

Mr. Obama is a half Kenyan (which is an east African nationality, in contrast to the West African slaves from which most American blacks are descended) provided a middle class upbringing by his white mother and maternal grandparents on an American island state inhabited mostly by mixed race Asians.

Not exactly the typical "black experience".

So I ask of you, which is more likely: That Barack Obama is an "oreo", that lower class black taunt reserved for those who eschew the norms and mores of their black cultural upbringing and community; or that Mr. Obama is a man possessing a (at least ostensibly) "white" background, searching for a "black" identify onto which he can latch (i.e. "the wigger")?



anonymous said:

"2. He's a remarkably exotic variety of the faux African-American,

Well, he's certainly American. Are you then trying to say that he is not African? Well, his father is African. So he's American by nationality. He's African by blood. That makes him African-American.



Obama is most certainly American; no one is questioning that.

But is he African? His sperm dono... excuse me, FATHER was African, but given that Barack never learned much about his African heritage, customs, or lineage, perhaps the best answer is "sort of".

Here's an interesting question for you to consider:

Was Teresa Heinz Kerry almost the first "African American" First Lady?

I mean, she is American by citizenship and African by birth (born in Lourenço Marques, Mozambique). She actually lived in Africa and her parents resided in the region (a Portugese colony at the time).

When you use the term "by blood" are you saying that someone has to have been born of an African to be "African American"? Because, as I'm sure you know, that would exclude the current slave-descended black populace of the U.S. from being considered "African" American. (As it would be quite an understatement to say that very few people in that group were born of an African in the last 140 or so years.)

Perhaps you mean those "traditionally" descended from Africa? Unfortunately, chances are we all are if you go back far enough. Though I suppose you could add a "no earlier than 1619" caveat.

My best guess is that you mean Negro. So perhaps we should just abandon this "African American" nonsense and stick with "black" (the American colloquialism for Negro) and "white" (the American colloquialism for Caucasian).

You also said:

"3. He has no ancestors who were slaves in the U.S.

This does not negate his African -American identity in any way. A person who’s ancestors came to the U.S. in 1901 is not any less white than a person who's ancestors came to the U.S. in 1701. If I remember correctly, Bush's ancestors came to the U.S. earlier than Kerrys. I wonder, were you writing blogs saying that Kerry was a Faux White American?"

It's certainly not my job to judge Barack's bona fides as a black man; I'll leave that to the black community.


Obamas toughest sell for White House bid may be to other blacks

Excerpt-

In contrast to the effusive reception Obama has received from white Americans, many US blacks so far have been cool, saying that while they may share skin color with Obama, they do not have a common culture or history.

"Obama did not -- does not -- share a heritage with the majority of black Americans, who are descendants of plantation slaves," wrote African-American newspaper columnist Stanley Crouch last month in an article entitled "Barack Obama -- Not Black Like Me."

Radio host George Wilson, whose nationally-broadcast talk show tests the opinions of a cross-section of African-American listeners, said response to the Illinois senator so far has been "lukewarm."

"He's not getting as much of an enthusiastic send-off from black people as he is from whites," Wilson said.

Obama draws enormous, mostly white crowds, even though the first presidential primary election is more than a year away, and is he seen as a top contender for the Democratic presidential nomination.

But Crouch said that the first-term US senator -- the bi-racial progeny of a black Kenyan father and a white American mother -- does not share with most American blacks the painful legacy of slavery, repressive Jim Crow laws, and civil rights struggles.

"While he has experienced some light versions of typical racial stereotypes, he cannot claim those problems as his own -- nor has he lived the life of a black American," Crouch wrote in his New York Daily News column.

Simon said...

"How is a token appointment of someone who is mariginally black going to mend America's race relations? Jeez, you liberals really to live in fantasy land."

If it's tokensism then you're right, yeah. A Colin Powell Presidency in '92 wouldn't have been tokensim though, he was arguably as well qualified as Eisenhower and much moreso than Bill Clinton. I guess the idea is that a successful (non token) black leader disproves the argument that racism prevents you succeeding on account of your skin colour.

However what actually tends to happen is that people say "He/She's not really one of us" - British feminists said Thatcher "wasn't really a woman". Colin Powell's & especially Condi Rice's position as Secretary of State seems to have been discounted, and Rice came from a very typical African-American background, not the Caribbean. So it probably is just a fantasy I suppose.

Simon said...

Re "mending America's appalling race relations" - of course the biggest problem in American race relations is the destructive attitude of the white liberal elite. They're the ones who most fervently believe in judging people by their skin colour, who believe that if you're black you're doomed to failure. Maybe a successful Obama presidency would help with that.

Re
"Oy, I can only pray Jim Webb turns out to be half decent on immigration and throws his hat into the ring."

Webb has frequently and consistently objected to the way uncontrolled poor-country immigration harms America's native poor, a large proportion of whom are blacks & Scots-Irish whites. He takes essentially Sailer's position. So if he has any integrity, which seems highly likely, he'd be pretty tough on restricting it.

Of course this also means that Webb is a natural enemy for the permanent elite who largely control both the Democratic & Republican parties, so I'm not holding my breath.

Anonymous said...

Jewish Atheist, at 1/03/2007 3:04 AM, has it right.

Ken Shabby said...

I think America blacks are right to question Obama's loyalties to fight for their narrow special interests.

It is doubtful they can hostage a happy, well-adjusted and succesfull black man like Obama to their special interests as well as they can an apparently blonde Waspy, self-professed Jewish and now NYC liberal like Hillary.

Although race politics are not about fairness, it's strange that any America black voter would see Hillary more accurately understanding and fairly representing the black experience than Obama.

Most of this is probably Hillary's attack machine just testing the waters. It will interesting to see if the guilty white elites supporting Obama can out gun the race-based special interests of Hillary. If all else were equal (which they are not), my money would be on Obama.

Ken

Anonymous said...

"Funny how now one else is ever going to pick this up and when they do they'll be pinned down as racists too for pointing out these salient inconsisties between the real Obama and the Obama were supposed to know."

The whole point that you even feel the need to analyze Obama's exact ethnic make-up (as if it makes any difference whether he would be a good President) serves only to show that you place his race as his only defining quality. That by definition is racist.