February 18, 2008

Obama, Original Sin, and Redemption

A reader writes:

"Obama appeals to secular whiterpeople with a powerful religious message. The sons and daughters of mainline Protestantism will tell you they no longer believe in original sin, but a redemptive religious worldview doesn't make much sense without it. They have translated it into white man's guilt - for the crimes of colonialism, for the fate of the planet - and they feel it as strongly as their grandparents felt the spur of original sin. Putting it all on the white man is actually a narcissistic diminution of original sin, but try telling that to a whiterperson unschooled in theology. BarryO is selling redemption. We liked it from Jean Calvin and Jonathon Edwards, and we like it from him."

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


michael farris said...

I haven't been following particular speeches, but as an Obama skeptic (I think he could be an okay president but I'm not swooning or anything) I recently read one point that a lot of the media may be missing (I don't remember if it's been picked up on here).

A _lot_ of his support (apart from those longing for an imaginary hip black friend and/or the aggressively tolerant) is based on tapping into old-fashioned generation gap politics, namely boomer resentment.

Nobody much likes the boomer generation (least of all boomers themselves) but Obama is picking up those that hate the boomers the most - their kids and grandkids.

Anonymous said...

A friend said "Obama is the ,white person's wishful thinking candidate,.
He's a black person as white liberals wish blacks were, but not as they really are."

thinking aloud said...

Your reader has a good point. But I would rephrase the following part of his quote:

"and they feel it as strongly as their grandparents felt the spur of original sin."


and they feel it as strongly as their grandparents felt the spur of "the white man's burden".

It was this "white mans burden" which was an intellectual justification for colonialism. Basically the chattering classes loud thinking in the days of Dickens, vs. the chattering classes loud thinking in the days of Obama.

SKT said...

I was browsing through the Freep a while ago - mostly for comedy - and I came across a post in which a guy said that all conservatives should go out and vote for Obama. One of his reasons was that scary black men like Sharpton and Jackson would go away once Obama is elected.

That just doesn't make any sense to me at all. I'm not sure how many other white people think the same thing. It's like me believing that if I throw away my umbrella, it won't rain for the rest of the year. It's a total non sequitur, almost magic thinking.

Lucius Vorenus said...

I'd strongly urge everyone to listen to Michelle Obama's UCLA speech [transcript at Free Republic]:



MP3 AUDIO [2.38 MB]

Miss Welby said...

your reader Michael Farris has a good point: resentment with the baby boom generation is high in Italy too, as younger generations find it very hard to get a job because they stick to their chairs and privileges (especially politicians and civil servants) thus preventing the 30-something to enter the work market.

I don't know if this is the case in more free-market-oriented America.

however, one thing I've noticed by surfing American liberal blogs, there are of course those pro-Clinton and those pro-Obama, or rather anti-Obama and anti-Clinton. well, the latter seem to be much more angry in their criticism of Hillary than the clintonistas are of Barry. I mean: she seems to be really hated by her opponents.

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Lucius Vorenus said...

A reader: BarryO is selling redemption. We liked it from Jean Calvin and Jonathon Edwards, and we like it from him.

Listen to & read the Michelle Obama transcripts, as above.

Cauvin and Edwards were not offering themselves as Messiahs.

thinking aloud said...


I'd say Obama is much scarier than Al or Jesse, because he is so smooth, yet basically has the same views on race and whites. So he is able to transport the raw black nationalist agenda right through the election cycle without anybody wanting to take notice. With Al and Jesse it's so in your face that even the NYT cannot hide it, but with Obama they manage to pull the wool over the electorate's eyes.

Anonymous said...

Thinking aloud,

I don't think most people gave a sh*t about the White Man's Burden. Idealistic colonialism was the obsession of a very few, the sort of people who would be neocons today. Here in Canada, for example, various proto-policy wonks tried to whip up enthusiasm for an Imperial Parliament and other proto-New World Order causes, to a distinct lack of interest. I doubt American feelings were much different.

The efforts of Christian missionaries were something else; I think they did touch popular consciousness at a deeper level. But today's white self-loathing isn't a reflex of missionary activities to any great extent. It began in the early 20th century among de-Christianized intellectuals, IMO for precisely the reasons given by Steve's correspondent.

Intellectual Pariah

dearieme said...

Would Obama be electable if his 50%blackness originated in West Africa rather than East Africa - in other words, if he looked as if he came from your black slums?

Born Again Democrat said...

I like Michael Farris's point that everybody is tired of the baby boom generation, "especially the baby boomers themselves." That certainly describes me. Yet curiously my daugter, a freshman in college, idolizes the 60's generation, as do many of her friends. The long for the excitement and the sense of promise of better things to come. Of course our generation blew it, but maybe this next one will learn from our mistakes.

al fin said...

Change is the opiate of the people, which would make Obama one of the biggest opium dealers in history.

Americans occupy a local optimum, which means that 99% of significant change would create more adversity for most of them, at least temporarily.

The cabal surrounding Obama reminds me of insider groups that have surrounded other remarkable change artists of history. In their hearts, they know they're right.

And you gonna get yoa's sucka!

Canson said...

Obama and forgiveness of sin. Obama and magical thinking. Obama as we wished blacks would be. The puerile,heretical and ludicrous currents that candidate Obama exposes have been and will remain firmly entrenched in modern mass democracy. We cast our votes and expect a rigged game to have an honest outcome, how is this any different from Obamania?

Mr. Roach said...

I think apolitical people want someone to transcend politics and save them from the burden of thinking through policies, tradeoffs, and questions of "us" and "them."

Anonymous said...

Secular redemption is a luxury. For high-income status obsessed "whiterpeople" who are de-ethnicized.

Your working white union guy in Detroit (likely Irish, Polish, Italian etc. ethnicity), Southern White (Scots-Irish "white trash"), "Border Southern White" (aka my father's side -- Kentucky, Indiana, Iowa, Southern IL) and mid-Atlantic Irish-Italian etc. generally don't have the income to be obsessed with secular redemption and would reject it anyway. Because they have religious redemption. They are not secularized to the degree the characters say on "Friends" are secularized.

This leaves an intense but small following for Obama among "whiterpeople." Like Apple Computer. It's packed. Filled with status-seekers. But (I love their stuff too) only a fraction of the machines sold. What 3-4% of the market?

The Ipod was cheap enough, accessible enough, and ran on Windows to reach far more people than Macs. I don't see that same reach-out by Obama. Preaching to converted.

Truth said...

"Would Obama be electable if his 50%blackness originated in West Africa rather than East Africa - in other words, if he looked as if he came from your black slums?"

His father was as black as midnight; do you think white voters care what tribe he came from.

Tripp said...

(This is a repost of my 1/30 post on this matter, which I think may be relevant.)

Looking at the big picture on Obama, I'm wondering if the Obamessiah thesis may be worth considering. Honestly, there are so many parallels I'm worried I'm going to leave some out:

1. His father comes from a far-off place. While it is not understood well by the locals, rumors have it that this place is peopled only by the pure and innocent.

2. His father impregnated a local girl.

3. His father then abandoned the local girl, and, while this doesn't really match with local values, you're not really supposed to judges denizens of Kenya/heaven by local values.

4. While the Obamessiah takes after the father, and tries to spread his Word as much as possible, he was tormented by his father having forsaken him.

5. The Obamessiah is pretty clear about wanting to be God's instrument, and wanting to create a kingdom on earth.

6. The Obamessiah's own religion is unclear. Just as Christians seem to forget, or at best, gloss over the fact the Christ was Jewish, Obama's supporters seem unconcerned by the variety of Muslim, Marxist, Christian, and agnostic values which have influenced the Obamessiah. The point is that the Obamessiah is his supporter's religion; his own religion is an academic question.

7. The whole form of support for the Obamessiah comes from the notion among the locals that they have sinned against Africa/heaven. Just as most Obama supporters were born after Jim Crow ended (and all were born after slavery), Christians were born after the expulsion from the garden of Eden. The guilt is maintained only through abstract concepts of racism/original sin.

Obviously, the parallels can be taken too far and I'm not trying to do that. I have no problem with actual religious belief; it just worries the hell out of me when people see current reality through the peculiar distortion of pre-existing, half-remembered religious beliefs. Believe, or don't believe, but above all, be aware of the form of your own belief.

(Now, hearing the stuff Hugh Hewitt brought to light, I suppose it's not too hard to extend our analogy slightly. The only question is, do we call her Michelle Magdalene or Mary Obama? To reiterate, I have no problem with genuine religious belief. Obviously, for a rabbi/pastor/whoever to try to "religiousize" people is more or less his duty; it's quite a different matter when a politician tries to politicize people, especially when they make it clear they want the effects to be permanent and mandatory. Please, Texas, if you've ever voted for the lesser of two evils, do it now.)

Tripp said...

"His father was as black as midnight; do you think white voters care what tribe he came from."

The point is that there is more to ethnicity than skin colour. East African have very different features from West Africans, just as East African can have quite different features from one another. I'm sure a biological anthropologist could go into more detail, but I think a lot of people would describe a distinct difference between Obama and the classic black American. (The larger point - that skin color and other physical features are superficial and uninformative - seems lost on a lot of people these days ... how many of his supporters know the significance of his idolization of Che Guevara? They don't know; they've just seen "cool people" wearing the t-shirt so they assume Guevara was a cool guy.)

canson said...


Didn't you get the memo?

Vote for the Big O or suffer the condemnation of the Rightious.

My guess is that the acoustic sing-along will last about 6 months. Then the various client groups realize that the gravy they thought was theirs is being denied them...and it's all NWA after that.

Anonymous said...

Tripp -- what people are trying to do is desperately seize on some "religion" to avoid facing uncomfortable, "adult" questions that would require them to jettison their ideology in face of reality:

We can't provide health care and have illegal immigration (or unlimited legal immigration). We can't have decent wages and allow lots of new people into the labor market. We can't have pseudo-kumbayah globalism and take care of our people. And we can't retreat behind our oceans and pretend all sorts of threats of mass terror by real enemies won't continue.

The solutions to these problems are well known, "simple" but hard to accomplish because various interest groups, people and policies will suffer. Building a border fence for example, would gore the PC-Multiculturalist ox, the employers ox, and the Latino grievance/vote machine ox. So better to invest in "hype you can hope in" or "change you can hype in" via the Obamamessiah.

It's avoidance.

Martin said...

"Lucius Vorenus said...

I'd strongly urge everyone to listen to Michelle Obama's UCLA speech [transcript at Free Republic]"

Thanks for the links. Most eye-opening. There were a few tidbits I especially liked:

"We live in isolation, and because of that isolation, we fear one another."

No, because we fear certain other people, and not without cause, we try to live in isolation from them.

"And Barack Obama will require you to work. He is going to demand that you shed your cynicism, that you put down your division, that you come out of your isolation, that you move out of your comfort zones, that you push yourselves to be better, and that you engage."

I got my mind right, boss! I got my mind right.

What do they intend that's out of my comfort zone? Do we empty out the cities and start strangling anyone who wears eye-glasses? Round up people into press-gangs to dig in the gold mines with their bare hands?

In case Michelle Obama doesn't know this: We do not work for the President. He works for us.

As Hugh Hewitt mentioned, Barack doesn't want to be President - he wants to be General Zod.

Anonymous said...

Do looks matter? Oh yes they do. Barack has that kind of linear face that seems intelligent. Michelle has that rounded face (especially rounded in the mouth area) that Americans have learned a visceral fear of.

The intellectual Obama bashing is useless. People who don't want a veiled extremist as the next US president should make a big point out of showing photos and films of Michelle Obama every chance they get.

Barack might look unfamiliar enough to be a "Messiah," but Michelle looks all too familiar.

dodo said...

There Will Be Bamboozling.

Anonymous said...

Tripp says: "Just as Christians seem to forget, or at best, gloss over the fact the Christ was Jewish..."

Dear Sir: as an Orthodox Priest, I found your allusions to Jesus Christ and Barak HUSSEIN Obama, to be not only in poor taste, but theologically vapid to a degree one would not expect on an internet forum.

Christ was not a "Jew" - as that term is applied today. He was a JUDEAN, which is a totally different thing. The Greek NT clearly says, "Judean" where the KJV erroneously says "jew." This term, in fact, did not even exist in Western Scriptures in English until the mid-1700's! Indeed, "Jews" such as Arthur Koestler have chronicled the conversion of the Turkic Khazarian tribe to Talmudism (whcih is not the same thing as Biblical hebraism!) in the 8th Century, some 700 years after the "Hebrew nation" was destroyed!

Please, in your attempt to divinize the "Obamanation" don't drag in the "Jesus was a Jew" rhetoric, for that's all it is... a lot of hot air.

-Fr. John

Tripp said...

Fr. John, I don't feel the slightest bit bad about what I wrote. Any number of Jews I've known refer to the Israelites of that period as Jews, and as their people, and their opinion is as good as yours. He was a Semite who worshipped YHWH; the fact that he would have described himself with a term that was not Anglicized is completely irrelevant. (And no, I'm not interested enough in semantic time-wasting to continue this argument further.)