May 15, 2008

A black Obama cynic explains

Cinque Henderson writes in The New Republic:

Ninety percent of black Democrats support Barack Obama. So that might leave an observer wondering: What the hell is up with that other 10 percent? Are they stupid? Do they hate their own race? Do they not understand the historical import of the moment?

I can shed some insight on this demographic anomaly. In gatherings of black people, I'm invariably the only one for the Dragon Lady...

I disliked Obama almost instantly. I never believed the central premises of his autobiography or his campaign. He is fueled by precisely the same brand of personal ambition as Bill Clinton. But, where Clinton is damned as "Slick Willie," Obama is hailed as a post-racial Messiah. Do I believe that Obama had this whole yes-we-can deal planned from age 16? No, I would respond. He began plotting it at age 22. This predisposition, of course, doesn't help me in making the case against Obama, especially not with black people. But, believe me, there's a strong case to be made that he isn't such a virtuous mediator of race. And it's this skepticism about Obama's racial posturing that has led us, the 10 percent, into dissent. ...

But, once you stare past the radiant glow surrounding Obama and begin to study the exact reasons for his so-called racial transcendence, you can't help but conclude that it is mostly hokum. Why do black people love Obama? In large part, it's because of the dark-skinned woman on his arm. Black people (especially black women) are nuts for Michelle. Had Barack married a white woman, his candidacy would've never gotten off the ground with black people. And would whites really be so into him if he hadn't had a white mother? Based on U.S. political history, you would have to conclude: not a chance. My suspicion is that people are ultimately comfortable with Obama because a member of his family looks like them--and, if you think about it, that's not terribly transcendent.

It's also not terribly true -- Obama wants you to believe that, but his life story suggests that he'd be more moderate about race if he was black on both sides and thus didn't have to keep proving he's black enough. (Something similar is true for the Bob Bar-lookalike Rev. Wright.)

This is really not a complicated concept to grasp about the frontrunner for the Presidency, but since we've all been indoctrinated to be childishly simple-minded about race, very few get it.

It is Obama's biography, we are told, that will govern his behavior. He was raised by a mother who supposedly didn't see color, so he doesn't see color. He was born into tolerance and multi-racial understanding, so he will practice tolerance and multi-racial understanding. Except, that is, when it's not useful to him.

Which brings me to South Carolina, where I was born and raised. I was there before and during the primary. Recall the moment. Obama was gaining on Clinton--but had also just lost New Hampshire and Nevada. A loss in South Carolina, and he would have been done for.

It's worth remembering that the majority of blacks still think O.J. Simpson is innocent. And, in times like these, when a black man is out front in the public eye, black people feel both proud and vulnerable and, as a result, scour the earth for evidence of racists plotting to bring him down, like an advance team ready to sound an alarm. Barack needed only a gesture, a quick sneer or nod in the direction of the Clintons' hidden racism to avail himself of the twisted love that rescued O.J. and others like him and to smooth his path to victory, and, therefore, to salvage his candidacy. After Donna Brazile and James Clyburn started to cry racism, Barack was repeatedly asked his thoughts. He declined to answer, allowing the charge to grow for days (in sharp contrast to how he leapt to Joe Biden's defense a month earlier). But, while he remained silent about the allegations of racism, he gave speeches across South Carolina that warned against being "hoodwinked" and "bamboozled" by the Clintons. His use of the phrase is resonant. It comes from a scene in Malcolm X, where Denzel Washington warns black people about the hidden evils of "the White Man" masquerading as a smiling politician: "Every election year, these politicians are sent up here to pacify us," he says. "You've been hoodwinked. Bamboozled."

By uttering this famous phrase, Obama told his black audience everything it needed to know. He was helping to convince blacks that the first two-term Democratic president in 50 years, a man referred to as the first black president, is in fact a secret racist. As soon as I heard that Obama had quoted from Malcolm X like this, I knew that Obama would win South Carolina by a massive margin. ...

As the son of a Baptist minister, I can attest that Wright is and was an extreme aberration from how the overwhelming majority of black Christians worship. In church, black people hear about Peter, Paul, Mary, and how to get into heaven. How to forgive. How to love. Not how to vote.

Well ... you don't have to fully believe that to realize that Rev. Wright is to the left of the black church mainstream.

But here was Barack suggesting that Wright's behavior was commonplace in black churches: "I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community." He generalized Wright's ridiculousness to distract from his individual choice to worship under a buffoon for two decades. I have a cousin who attended Wright's church for three weeks and then left, never to return. She had no interest in hearing his nonsense from the pulpit.

Barack obscured the true nature of black religious life because, to do otherwise, he would have had to answer the question, "Why are you a member of a church that is this racially divisive and such a sharp aberration to how the rest of black people worship?" When Barack beautifully suggested that the beliefs pronounced from the pulpit of Trinity in Chicago are not uncommon, he was feeding us garbage. But Barack needed to protect his reputation as a race-healer and unifier, so he told a lie about black religious life to help keep the glow of his own reputation alive. And now the evidence suggests that Barack didn't, in the end, break with Wright over his outrageous racial claims, but over his suggestion that Barack is just a politician.

That so many people have a stake in ignoring these real concerns is troubling. At least the Hillary supporters I know seem to be aware of her more unsavory traits: that she carries a knife with her that she could pull out at any minute. Not so with Obama's fans. It's nearly impossible to get them to admit any wrong in him. Given the choice, I prefer to side with the group that knows their candidate can be a jerk, rather than the group that believes their candidate is Jesus.

Cinque Henderson is a TV writer, working on a book about Abraham Lincoln.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer


Anonymous said...

Normally I wouldn't trust someone who called himself Cinque

but this guy is on to something.

You pointed out months ago that Hussein was imitating Denzel's portrayal of Malcolm X with his repeated use of the "bamboozled/hoodwinked" phrase. Henderson explicates the full meaning of Hussein's repetition of the phrase. To black audiences who know that movie by rote it was like accusing Billary of burning a cross on Hussein's lawn.

Anonymous said...

Why is the New Republic attacking Obama?

Anonymous said...

Candidate Jesus is going to be President Jesus, soon enough - the hero-worship is going to make Kennedy look like Coolidge. It'll be interesting; I bet he'll get a lot done.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad to see someone else call Obama on his blatant appeal to black racism.

Anonymous said...

Of course you have to be grateful for any sanity coming from blacks. But it tells you something about how skewed the race issue is when the 10% or less of blacks who actually don't respond in a knee-jerk manner to racial solidarity are considered traitors by their own race and by many liberals, and are lauded as outstanding individuals by conservatives even though they overwhelmingly vote Dem. On top, their type of attitude is expected de rigeur from any run-of-the-mill white, but of course the white will not be praised if he disowns his own race, he will be threatened with the moral death penalty if he even thinks something else.

Robert said...

The New Republic is a Zionist rag. Many people suspect BHO's attachment to war for them is not solid.
The Witch and the Moron are people they can count on.

Anonymous said...

I saw a report on Pajama's apology to a reporter for addressing her as "sweetie" and thought he came across as decent and open. What struck me was that the media are happy to treat him as decent and open, accepting, I suppose, that we all make mistakes, that we all get tired, or distracted, or whatever. But they assuredly wouldn't make the same allownaces for those they oppose - particularly Republicans (or, in Britain, Conservatives). The lack of even-handedness is striking: I can't, of course, tell how much of the bias in this case is political, how much racial, but I confess that I am weary of the school of journalism that never applies critical scrutiny to politics but endlessly applies jeering-and-sneering to politicians. Sure, Hillary, Bill, Teddy and company are a bunch of crooks, and W is a complete twit, but the media search for "gaffes" is intellectually frivolous.

Unknown said...

Leave Cinque's name alone. That's what makes his Oba-cynicism even more convincing. UNLIKE CHRIS ROCK, he can see a con.

I thought his nailing of Michelle as the secret of Obama's appeal was the single most dead-on accurate of anything written in this silly season. He's 100% right. Spread the meme.

Teacher.Paris: you are right, TNR is Zionist, but you don't have your thinking cap on straight. TNR has been consistently pro-Obama and anti-Hillary, thus this article is noteworthy. Even Marty Peretz is in the tank for Obama. Perhaps Obama is sending a chill up his leg. Or down it?

Unknown said...

To me the most interesting point that Cinque makes is that Obama incorrectly paints most black churches as being like Wright's church so that Obama will not have to admit that he purposely sought out a church as radical as Wright's.

Most blacks won't point this out, because they want Obama to win. And black churches may drift to the radical side as a result.

Anonymous said...

Cinque makes an interesting point. For decades the black church has been idealized in the media--in fact, the black church is the only form of religious expression that is never ridiculed. All that raucous singing, dancing, and evangelical ecstasy; what's not to like? Then along comes the Obama and his minister, and seeing Rev. Wright preach was like lifting up a rock and seeing all those creepy, slimy things squirming around underneath. And Obama assured us this was normal, and his supporters took the same "get over it" attitude, and I don't think most white Americans really think it's okay. So either Obama has exposes a very ugly truth that most of us weren't fully aware of, or he has shown himself willing to present a significant part of the black experience as something hateful to further his political ends.

Anonymous said...

Candidate Jesus is going to be President Jesus, soon enough

Nah. Obama may be Jesus, but Jesus' political career came to a rather abrupt end if I remember correctly.

SameOldJazz said...

I write only to say that I am a black man whose black wife is one of the 10 percent of black people who did not support Obama in one the primaries. She would reject out of hand Mr. C. Henderson's attempt to shed some insight on the demographic anomaly.

I also want to point out that Mr. Henderson purports to explain the black general population's support for Obama in simplistic terms - such as black women support Obama because of his black wife. He skewers the use of "hoodwink" as a signal of black radicalism when it is used in front of a black audience. The simplistic vision of black political thought Mr. Henderson offers is troubling.

When President Bush used the words of a christian hymn in his convention speech or state of the nation address was he signaling an evandelical radicalism that undermined his agenda? I would hope that readers of Sailer's blog who devote time to his theories which I largely reject would grant the black's more social and political nuance in their thinking. The other side (liberal, minorities) may be wrong, but they are not the one button simpletons that you project.

And finally, I take issue with the statement that "As the son of a Baptist minister, .... In church, black people hear about Peter, Paul, Mary, and how to get into heaven. How to forgive. How to love. Not how to vote. "
I too am black and have attended about every version of the black church that is out there and in plenty of them they learn how to vote and who to vote for. If that was not the case, then the fact that George Bush and Republican's have nurtured ties to numerous black mega-churches and their conservative followers would make little sense. I personally know churches that pushed the anti-abortion, no gay marriage agenda and worked closely with republicans in Florida to push that agenda. They traveled to Washington during Pres. Bush's first term to hold a rally on the Capitol regarding gay marriage. Mr. Henderson is simply and demonstrably wrong on this point. Throughout the civil rights era to this very day, black churches have informed and sometimes directly formed the black communities politics for both liberal and conservative purposes.

Mr Henderson offers one version of the truth, sadly I find it does not hold up to scrutiny.

Anonymous said...

10% of blacks won't vote for Obama. Is this the talented tenth we keep hearing about?

Anonymous said...

Peretz is in the tank for Obama because Obama is sure to lose to McCain. TNR is a minor player in this game, which will go into the secong half once Obama is nominated.

dearieme, you'll get your "evenhandedness" by and by.

Anonymous said...

Obama is not Jesus, and his very cult-like appeal to rich whites will turn off the mass of working class white voters. Only 53% of white voters in places like WV or PA will vote for him.

All the Obama-messiah cult stuff turns off the un-hip and un-cool, who hate Starbucks and Apple computer and go to Dunkin Donuts and use Windows.

Don't confuse Marketing hype and buzz for popularity, otherwise Lindsay Lohan would be the biggest movie star on the planet.

I see the usual "blame the Jews" crowd is out today.

Anonymous said...

Something similar is true for the Bob Bar[sic]-lookalike Rev. Wright

Something I've been wondering about, as well. What do we know about Wright's family background? White momma? Single or two parent family? White schools?

TGGP said...

Another black Obama-cynic I like is Glenn Loury.

Anonymous said...

Thank goodness for this man's voice, I was horribly dismayed to think that Wright's despicable rhetoric and hijacking of the name of Jesus was what was really going on in black churches, as asserted by Obama.

And moreover, that the black friends, neighbors, coworkers I know secretly loathe me because of the color of my skin.

Anonymous said...

And would whites really be so into him if he hadn't had a white mother? Based on U.S. political history, you would have to conclude: not a chance. My suspicion is that people are ultimately comfortable with Obama because a member of his family looks like them--and, if you think about it, that's not terribly transcendent.

This is completely untrue with regard to my family and friends. There are plenty of Black Candidates we'd be happy to support, and in fact, would be slightly more inclined to vote for them because of being black (for the cause of racial solidarity).

We won't, however, vote for an unreconstructed leftist, particularly one who hob-nobs with the radical elite.

Truth said...

""Nah. Obama may be Jesus, but Jesus' political career came to a rather abrupt end if I remember correctly."

Maybe, but millions of Svigors all over the world are still donating 10% of their income to his campaign!

Anonymous said...

Nah. Obama may be Jesus, but Jesus' political career came to a rather abrupt end if I remember correctly.

Unless I'm reading this comment incorrectly, it sounds like Svigor is confirming people like Michelle Obama's worst fears about violent white racists.

Unknown said...

Pastor James Manning, who has something of a following in Harlem, hates Obama. He's funnier than Chris Rock:

Manning's been MUCH tougher on Obama than Sailer anyday.

He sez Barack lied about his grandmama:

Obama is a Mac daddy:

Manning's a hoot!

Truth said...

"Don't confuse Marketing hype and buzz for popularity, otherwise Lindsay Lohan would be the biggest movie star on the planet."

Then explain to me how George Clooney is.

Anonymous said...

I agree that Obama is seen as "wobbly" on the Israel issues,whereas Hillary,like an aging cankled Manson Girl,has vowed to kill millions for their sake. McCains "I Have A Dream Speech" makes him seem like a complete lunatic.Obama seems fairly smart,and the only candidate with a modicum of mental health---and I say this after having read all the stuff here about what a raced-base bizarro he is. I'd have to say,"Anyone But McCain" at this point. And the authors comment that "all" blacks believe O.J. is innocent is pure hogwash. Blacks do not believe he is "innocent",as in did not do the crime. They see him as "ginnocent". Guilty,yeah,but really pretty much innocent.

Anonymous said...

I listened to most of the Rev. Wright "G*d d*amn AmeriKKKa" sermon. The audio is posted somewhere on a black-oriented website. For more than thirty-five minutes of the hour-long sermon he sounds reasonable. The inflammatory parts are a small part of the sermon.

This is not meant to excuse Wright but to point out that Cinque is wrong in arguing that there are normal black churches where hating whitey is not on the agenda. I believe that overwhelming majorities of blacks buy into the "white devil" philosophy to some extent; they may not all be ranting and raving about that subject with every sentence out of their mouths but it is there below the surface nonetheless.

Similary, educated European Americans don't reaffirm that the Earth is round or that 2 + 2 = 4 with every sentence but it forms part of our consciousness nonetheless.

Anonymous said...

"Something similar is true for the Bob Bar[sic]-lookalike Rev. Wright"

Something I've been wondering about, as well. What do we know about Wright's family background? White momma? Single or two parent family? White schools?

What of Bob Barr's ancestry? He certainly looks like he could have black blood (as implied in original post). Perhaps not much less than Wright's. His wiki entry has nothing other than his parents being in the military.

Anonymous said...

Anon - "Unless I'm reading this comment incorrectly, it sounds like Svigor is confirming people like Michelle Obama's worst fears about violent white racists."

Funny then that so often violent white racists are the dogs that dont bark but violent black racists bark and yap all too often, oh sorry they are just muggings gone wrong arent they.

Anonymous said...

i go to starbucks (when I came back from in 1985 i absolutely hated the coffee situation in this country--weak and insipid. Many returned Americans felt the same way and within a few years, lo, starbucks and lattes); I like Apple; I'm one of those "whiter" white people who might be expected to vote for blacks because it's the RIGHT thing to do (for whom?).
But Obama has repulsed me from the first time I heard of him. The Wright stuff, and the Michelle stuff has only made my nauseated feeling increase--I can hardly stand to see the name.
I was never susceptible to the cult because i saw through the phoniness. I can imagine voting for a black person, though virtually none of the black mayors have been anything except anti-white, so maybe I'm a slow study. still, a US president is different.
I could vote for Charles Wrangle for example, though I don't really know what race he is-some sort of black I guess.
Which reminds me. Wrangle sees what is coming vis a vis Obama. Manning is right and Wrangle has firmly supported Hillary against all expectations. He's no fool.

Anonymous said...

Do you honestly believe that every black person that voted for him did so because of Michelle??? That's rather narrow minded of you. Michelle didn't have anything to do with it and neither did any of is books. I, personally, did not read his books.

I think you are entitled to your opinion as I am mine, however, for you to just assume that the reason that people are supporting him because of his wife or the color of his skin is ludicrous. While it may have held true during the primaries (because I didn't know who I was voting for until I got up to the booth and then I thought about it long and hard before then) but not during the election.

I'm a black woman and I am not a registered Republican nor am I registered Democrat. I have voted both ways before. I based my vote on the issues, mainly health care, the war and the economy (not in that order).

I believe that no one in this country wants to go without health care and that if it were more affordable to everyone that they will pay for it. I also believe that we shouldn't be in Iraq but that we should have been in Afghanistan and FINISHED there before going other places. This two front war is killing us and McCain wanted to start stuff with Iran and we just do not have the troop strength for it. The reason that people aren't lined up to sign up is because most of them don't believe in the war in Iraq because that would be where they were being sent.
The economy is in shambles and to this day people are still trying to blame it on Obama since he was elected. I'm sure had McCain won they wouldn't be. He hasn't taken office yet and it didn't happen over night and it won't be fixed over night.
Give the MAN a chance.

Let me ask you? Would you have been this hard on him if he had been white?

Probably not.

Anonymous said...

Lets just be people. I am a Brown American Woman, who finds its so sad that in this day and age. People are refered to as "Blacks". Why does the color of a persons skins matter. Would you go into a room full of people and say, Hey, thiers the blacks, theirs the mexicans, theirs the whites. My mother told me that when people say mean and unflattering things about others, that maybe something in their lives is not right. I myself am not riding the Obama bandwagon. But I'm not bashing him or other cultures in the process either. I knew if he was elected that the racial tension would heighten. Everything in the world today is speculation and assumption. I feel sorry for the masses who can't think for themseleves. Unless you have sat down and had a personal conversation with Obama himself. How can you really know what is fact or fiction.
You Won't!
But, its freedom of speech right?