Will Alexander, Democrats disgorge so much political poison these days that it’s easy to overlook just how unprecedented, irresponsible and dangerous Barack Obama’s John Lewis speech was.
Context is everything.
In normal times, we might just shake our heads and yawn at hearing yet another one of Obama’s meandering speeches. But we are in extremely abnormal times. Normal actions, in extremely abnormal times, are extremely abnormal – like a whistling fireman driving the speed limit to a raging fire.
If abnormal times compel a former president to crawl from seclusion, we hope he’ll say something that guides us through the fog. Obama used the cover of the fog to pour gasoline on a raging fire.
“He stoked the very fires that he pretends to be extinguishing,” is how Dinesh D’Souza put it.
“Bull Connor may be gone. But today, we witness with our own eyes police officers kneeling on the necks of black Americans,” Obama said in black-cent after baptizing his words in the authority of Scripture. “George Wallace may be gone. But we can witness our federal government using federal agents to use tear gas and batons against peaceful demonstrators.”
Obama then inebriated himself on claps, ovations, and cheers after he railed against “those in power who are doing their darndest to discourage people from voting.”
It was a scratched-record moment.
When you look at all the innocent blood shed, property vandalized and businesses ruined by rioters, looters and so-called peaceful protestors, Obama’s butchering of the language to distort what we’re seeing with our own eyes is itself an eye-opener.
I never voted Obama because his eloquence came with no real substance. To me, he was merely a of man of words with no great soul articulating them.
But as much contempt as I had for Obama’s politics at the time, I still saw him as the perfect antidote to all the race stuff. He could’ve finally put it all behind us. But he made things worse.
With all of his back-looking race comments, Obama became the deadbeat dad of the Black Lives Matter movement. Anytime it satisfied his lust for political power, he ravished the movement’s police brutality narrative and helped give birth to the tyrannical Frankenstein we’re seeing today.
But this is such a strange family. Obama no longer needs political power. With America engulfed in racial mayhem, why would he use Lewis’s funeral to pour gasoline on the fire?
I re-read Shelby Steele’s 2008 book, “A Bound Man,” and it refreshed my memory about why, for Obama, his incendiary eulogy was completely normal – even in abnormal times – for a man of mixed race who so deeply needs to be seen as “authentically” black. The problem? To be authentic to what’s considered “blackness” today, he must be inauthentic to the life he’s actually lived.
Steele, like Obama, was born to a white mother and a black father. This fact is one that, “like the first cause of a complex truth, plays a role in everything that follows,” he wrote. Because Steele shares that “first cause” – being the progeny of two races – he’s credentialled in unraveling the mystery of why Obama’s views on race so starkly contradict the realities of his actual life.
Growing up, Steele wrote, it was all but impossible for him to think of his own parents as black and white until he was old enough to notice the world’s fascination with race. He calls that fascination “the dumb mathematics of thinking by race” because it tries to force you into ignoring human experiences that transcend race.
The dumb logic of race still legislates the “one-drop rule,” a rule conceived in slavery to make sure that mixed-race slaves couldn’t become “white,” and therefore become free. One drop of black blood and you’re black. It’s dumb.
“When Barack Obama is called a ‘Halfrican,’ the point is not simply that he comes from a mixed-race background; it is also that he is a kind of phony, a pretender to blackness,” Steel wrote. “For racially mixed blacks, the search for ‘authentic’ blackness is also a search for personal credibility and legitimacy. Our era of intense identity politics means that such people live under a permanent accusation of inauthenticity. And they are consigned [to] the Sisyphean labor of forever proving a negative: that they are not inauthentic.”
Steele quotes Obama’s own book, “Dreams From My Father,” where he edits his behavior to conform to the dumb logic of race.
“To avoid being mistaken for a sellout,” Obama wrote of his college days, “I chose my friends carefully. The more politically active black students. The foreign students. The Chicanos. The Marxist professors and structural feminists. … [We] discussed neocolonialism, Franz Fanon, Eurocentrism, and patriarchy.”
“To avoid being mistaken for a sellout” not only unravels the mystery of the “one-drop” blacks (like Obama and Kaepernick) who are compelled to obey the velvet tyranny of a post-sixties blackness, but it also explains the Oprahs of the world who, despite their immense success, feed into the narrative that black oppression still exists in America.
You might call it “black guilt.”
If white guilt, as Steele coined it, causes whites to go to extraordinary lengths to prove their innocence of being racists, black guilt causes vulnerable blacks to go to extraordinary lengths to prove their innocence of being sellouts. Just as being of mixed race makes you vulnerable to being a “pretender to blackness,” being rich, powerful, successful or even conservative makes you vulnerable to being less than “black.”
“The post-sixties black identity is essentially a totalitarian identity,” wrote Steele. “It wants to be an activist identity; it wants black protest to be built into each black person’s sense of self.”
This acquiescence is not only dumb, but it has also become extremely dangerous.
America is witnessing a deadly uprising by a hodge-podge of deadbeat seditionists, insurrectionists, arsonists, vandals, revolutionaries and anarchists who – disguised as patriots and social justice warriors – are openly subverting U.S. authority through naked violence and intimidation. And Obama, one of a handful of men history has honored to be a U.S. president, is using the weight of that prestige – at a funeral – to give moral strength to subversion.
These are extremely abnormal times. We’ll deal with it. But I’ve hoped for Obama to “rise to the moment” for the last time. His Lewis eulogy etched his place in history as a man who sold out his history-altering mandate for a personal angst that, by comparison, amounts to a bowl of beans.