So Is Racism the Problem?

Carol Platt Liebau
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Posted: Apr 28, 2008 3:52 PM
Yesterday on Meet the Press, Andrea Mitchell attributed Barack's electoral difficulties in Ohio and Pennsylvania to white racism:

And I do think--let me just say something from being on the ground in Pennsylvania and in Ohio--I think racism is a real factor here.  . .   I think it is what you see in some of his failure to connect with a particular sector of the electorate.  [I]t is a real issue that there is a resistance to him on some level in the electorate, and you hear these things from voters when you talk to them.  "Oh, I heard that he's not really a Christian." "Oh, well, he didn't, you know, put his hand over his heart." All this willingness to believe totally erroneous things about Barack Obama . . .

Public intellectual John McWhorter (who happens to be black), an Obama supporter, has a different view:

Already many are wondering whether Mr. Obama's inability to "close the deal," as Mrs. Clinton has put it, with less educated whites indicates that they don't like black people. To conclude that racism is the issue here is, however, reflexive and even lazy.

McWhorter notes that for the latte liberals who form the base of Obama's support, "attendance to the fact that racism still exists, policing themselves for remnants of it, and taking especial delight in diversity are more important than to most blue-collar, small-town whites."  He then concludes:

This does not mean that the whites in Pennsylvania don't like black people, are "not ready" for a black president, or are evidence of racism "lurking beneath the surface of polite discussion." It simply means that these people are evaluating Mr. Obama in a neutral way, and find Ms. Clinton more experienced, better prepared to steward a nation at war, and perhaps even having paid her dues in a way that Mr. Obama has not.

It's noteworthy that "regular" Americans may be better able to live up to the race-unconscious "content of their character" aspirations of Dr. King than the elites and opinion leaders who see racism everywhere, isn't it?