But then, he insisted that we do, in fact, dismiss Wright as a distraction. Indeed, Obama says that pretty much any inconvenient discussion of race is a distraction from what America really needs: a huge expansion of the welfare state. Obama says our racial problems can be healed with more money. By “investing in our schools and our communities; by enforcing our civil rights laws and ensuring fairness in our criminal justice system; by providing this generation with ladders of opportunity that were unavailable for previous generations.” The path for blacks, Obama insists, requires “binding our particular grievances — for better health care, and better schools, and better jobs — to the larger aspirations of all Americans — the white woman struggling to break the glass ceiling, the white man who’s been laid off, the immigrant trying to feed his family.”
Meanwhile, the “real culprits” for our problems are: “a corporate culture rife with inside dealing, questionable accounting practices and short-term greed; a Washington dominated by lobbyists and special interests; economic policies that favor the few over the many.”
Sigh. Here we go again.
For all the wonderful rhetoric and tantalizing promise of Obama and his speech, there’s not much that is actually new here. This was largely a restatement of Jeremiah Wright’s indictment of America, delivered in University of Chicago parlance instead of South Side Chicago diatribe.
The old baggage has been replaced with shinier suitcases, but the contents are the same as ever. Black America’s problems can be solved by spending more money on the same old Great Society programs. Any talk about black America’s problems that takes the eyes off that prize is a “distraction.” And, yet again, white Americans can prove their commitment to racial justice by going along with more big government. My hope for something better proved too audacious in the end.