Who could not be moved at the sight of a major political party naming Barack Obama, an African American, as its presidential candidate? To me, there could not be a better sign that America has left behind its racist past. We are now approaching what may be termed "the end of racism." The End of Racism was the title of my 1995 bestseller, hugely controversial when it was published, but now it seems to have been a decade ahead of its time. If we appreciate the significance of our current moment, we are driven to an ironic but rational conclusion: perhaps the best way to recognize Obama's historic achievement is to vote for John McCain this November.
Consider this: for the past several years we have been hearing liberal Democrats emphasize how racism still defines America, how things haven't really changed all that much, how racism has gone underground and is now more covert and more dangerous than ever. It may seem strange that a racist country would adopt legal policies that discriminate against the majority and in favor of minorities. Even so, liberal activists and civil rights activists continue to browbeat white America in the schools, in the universities, in politics and in the media if there is the slightest dissent from civil rights orthodoxy.
Well, I don't know how many people have been drinking the liberal Kool-Aid, but these people must be utterly shocked at the success of Barack Obama. Here is a guy who could not possibly have made it as far as he has with only black votes. He has attracted not only white votes but the votes of some of the most affluent and successful segments of the white community. Obama, not Hillary, is the pillar of the white establishment.
Moreover, Obama's own campaign is based on the premise that America is no longer racist. Far from making race-based appeals, to blacks on the basis of solidarity, and to whites on the basis of guilt, Obama campaigns on the expectation that whites share his economic values and foreign policy positions and view of America. In other words, Obama's public message is that race doesn't matter and that transracial alliances should be built on shared political and cultural values. It's a good message, and how it must dismay professional civil rights activists to hear it. I wouldn't be surprised if Jesse Jackson is telling family members, "If race relations keep improving like this, I may have to get a real job."
Clearly there are many in the liberal Democratic camp who are made profoundly uncomfortable by the recognition that racism is no more a defining feature of American life or even African American life. Don't get me wrong: I'm not saying that racism does not exist. This is a big country, and surely one can find several examples of it. But racism, which used to be systematic, is now only episodic. In fact, when I ask young blacks on the campus today whether America is racist, many say yes. But if I ask them to give me examples of how that racism affects their lives, they are hard pressed to give a single one. The best they can do is to mention "Rodney King" or provide some well-known, recycled horror story.
Recently someone told me that McCain is still winning the white vote by a substantial majority and that shows "we have a long way to go" in overcoming white bigotry. By this logic, blacks are have even longer way to go in overcoming their bigotry since Obama is winning almost 98 percent of the black vote. When your logic leads to an absurd conclusion, go back and re-examine the premise.
Even though Obama's candidacy signals that America is overcoming its racial past, neither Obama nor his wife recognize that. Their personal statements, as seen for example in Obama's books, are suffused with race-consciousness, race-obsession and even racial resentment. The more privileges they have received on the basis of race, the more embittered they seem to become. The source of these pathologies is the very liberalism that the Obamas have embraced: a liberalism that declares them equal while treating them as inferiors who need preferential treatment. (Liberals hate to have this pointed out; hence the irrational invective of the early responses to this post.)
The solutions are obvious. If you want to get rid of racial obsession, stop talking and thinking about race so much. If you want to remove race as the basis of decision-making in America, let's eliminate America's policies that make race the basis of decision-making. And if you want a party that stands for color-blindess and equal opportunity, you might consider voting for the Republicans.