Friday, August 15, 2008

Obama Played the Race Card - Good for Him

You may remember Senator John McCain accusing his rival in the presidential election, Senator Barack Obama, of “playing the race card.” I case you don't remember or didn't know, here's a video refresher:

Well, of course, this brought up the question from the media: Did Barack Obama play the race card? And, while it seems that the network news talking heads couldn't come to a yes-or-no consensus, they did almost all seem to agree that any day that race is in discussion is a bad day for Barack Obama. The media, however, overlooked a key question. They should not have asked “Did Barack Obama play the race card?”; instead, the appropriate question was “Should Barack Obama have played the race card?” The clear answer: YES!

Obama stated that he did not look like all the other presidents on dollar bills. This is true, for many reasons. He's not printed in green ink, he doesn't wear a powdered wig. Oh, and the most obvious difference between him and anyone who's ever been president, HE'S BLACK. This is a fact, and it's a fact that plays a role in this election. What's more, while the McCain campaign has not directly referred to Obama's race in order to make the electorate fear him, they have clearly taken advantage of a climate of racism and racial stereotypes to advance their candidate. To suggest that Obama should ignore such racially enabled attacks is deplorable.

Let's consider McCain's line of attack against Obama:

  • He's inexperienced. He's just not ready to lead.
  • He's presumptuous. He thinks he's already president.
  • He's all talk, no substance.
  • He's a celebrity.

In my eyes, this strategy reeks of racism. No, I'm not saying that John McCain is a racist. What I am saying is that he and his campaign are using racism to their advantage. Their attacks against Obama are nothing more than comfortably, “politically correct” rephrasings of familiar complaints and stereotypes against African Americans.
  • He's inexperienced. Or, in other words, he's just some kid. This is not his place, he doesn't deserve to be running for office. (I actually have a friend who is waiting for McCain to slip up and call Obama “boy”)
  • He's presumptuous. Or, in other words, he's uppity (don't know what that means? click here or here). Again, he just doesn't know his place. It's funny, it's not OK for Obama to act like he's president, but it's OK for McCain. McCain has gone as far as dispatching his own personal representatives to Georgia, as if he's the president sending ambassadors. It's not OK for Obama to take an overseas tour, but it's OK for McCain. Oh, by the way, McCain was the one who told Obama to go oversees.
  • He's all talk, no substance. Aren't all black famous people all glitter and gold with nothing substantial behind it? I mean, black athletes and entertainers, their talented, not smart. So, by this logic, Obama is a talented entertainer, a good speaker, nothing more. Just another smooth opperator, in fact...
  • He's a celebrity. I mean, come on. I'm not even going to dignify this attack with any further analysis.

The fact of the matter is that as a relatively young black male Senator Obama has build in obstacles to face in this election simply because he's black. Many voters will have existing fears and apprehensions about voting for an African American. Knowing this, John McCain had two options: exploit those fears and apprehensions or appeal to a better side of America and conduct a campaign based on honesty and integrity. Unfortunately, he chose the first of these two options. All Obama did was point this out, and in in fairly merciful way, I must add. If this constitutes playing the race card, than that's exactly what Obama did, and good for him.

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