Transcend means "to move beyond, to surpass." At least that's what I always thought. But I'm beginning to wonder whether it means instead: "Much, much more of the same, only this time really stupid."
Exhibit A: the incessant, relentless, click-your-ruby-red-slippers-and-say-it-until-it-comes-true mantra that Barack Obama will magically cause America to "transcend race." One hears and reads this everywhere, but less as an argument than as a prayer, an expression of faith, a "from my lips to The One's ear" sort of thing.
It is, of course, total and complete nonsense. According to L.B.O. (Logic Before Obama), transcending race would involve making race less of an issue. Passengers on Spaceship Obama would see race shrink and then vanish in the rearview mirror.
Instead, Obama has set off a case of full-blown race dementia among precisely the crowd that swears Obama is leading us out of the racial wilderness. Rather than shrink, the tumor of racial paranoia is metastasizing, pressing down on the medulla oblongata or whatever part of the brain that, when poked, causes one to hallucinate, conjure false memories and write astoundingly insipid things. For instance, a writer for Slate sees racism when anyone notes that Barack Obama is -- wait for it -- skinny. What this portends for Fat Albert is above my pay grade.
We need to rewrite those old Schoolhouse Rock cartoons, because now virtually any adjective, noun, verb or adverb aimed at Barack Obama that is not obsequiously sycophantic or wantonly worshipful runs the risk of being decried as racist. Community organizer? Racist! Mentioning his middle name? Racist! Arrogant? Racist! Palling around with a (white) terrorist? Racist! Celebrity? Racist! Cosmopolitan? Racist! This? Racist! That? Racist! The other thing? Oh man, that's really racist.
The new Schoolhouse Rock cartoon: "Conjunction: a word that connects a racist attack and Barack Obama."This week, an editorial writer for the Kansas City Star denounced John McCain and Sarah Palin for suggesting that Obama is a socialist because he wants to "spread the wealth around." Don't they understand that "socialist" has always been a racist codeword used by bigots like J. Edgar Hoover to demonize black activists like W.E.B. Du Bois?
A couple problems: First, as best I can remember, Marx, Engels, Lenin, George Bernard Shaw, Eugene V. Debs, Norman Thomas and Michael Harrington do not usually get a lot of attention during Black History Month. Second, as writer Michael Moynihan recently noted, Du Bois wasn't merely a socialist, he was a Stalinist! (Du Bois was not entirely unsympathetic to the Nazis, either.) Besides, when did "socialist" stop being an anti-Semitic codeword for Jew? Maybe when the left started going batty over "neocons." But that's a story for another day.
The idea that Obama was ever really about transcending race flies completely in the face of his own writings. The overarching theme of his book "Dreams From My Father" is the story of man who found it impossible to transcend race and instead explicitly chose to have a racial identity when he didn't have to (he describes fellow multiracial students he met in college as sellouts). He then joined a black church whose theology is shot-through with black nationalism and whose longtime pastor believes that black brains are different from white brains.
Now, let us actually transcend race for a moment. Apparently for Obama, "transcend" isn't a racial term so much as a euphemism for declaring victory. He says he wants to "turn the page" on the arguments of the '80s and '90s, by which he means conservatives should stop clinging to their guns and antiquated Sky God and join his cause.
He told Planned Parenthood he wants to stop "arguing about the same ole stuff," by which he means he wants people who disagree with his absolute support for government-funded abortion on demand to shut up already.
He doesn't want to argue about his pals from the Weather Underground who murdered or celebrated the murder of policemen and other Americans, he just wants everyone to agree no one should care.
In short, Obama and his disciples only demand one kind of transcendence from all Americans. We must, as Obama likes to say, unite as one people, one nation, one American family and transcend all of our misgivings about Barack Obama. Then, and only then, will The One fulfill his wife's pledge and fix our broken souls.
Only a racist could possibly disagree.