Geraldine Ferraro, long adored by the liberal elite, was quickly thrown to the wolves this week for daring to discuss race as an issue in this election. Here’s her statement that drew so much ire from the Obama camp:
“If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position,” she continued. “And if he was a woman (of any color) he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept.”
These remarks, of course, drew instant rebuke from Obama supporters and pundits alike (hard to tell the difference nowadays) who took to referring to Ferraro as a bigot who was typical of the Clinton campaign’s “racist kneecapping.” Ferraro’s words were of course, interpreted for the easily gullible to mean “Obama’s lucky to be a black man.”
As I commented on a post at Forgotten Beatitudes, that is clearly not what Ferraro said. What she said was that Obama is lucky to be who he is, not what he is. As in, who he is at this point in time. Not how he got there. Not whatever privations he may have suffered as the child of a single mother. Not the racism he encountered along his path to success. No, her point was that at this point in history, with so many groups of American Society feeling disenfranchised, it’s extremely fortuitous that he is so different from the current president–and yes, that includes skin color.
Just because I happen to agree to a point with what Ferraro said doesn’t mean she’s necessarily correct. But misconstruing her position as racist will only hurt the Democratic Party in the long run. She obviously was not clear enough in her thought process for a nation that feeds its mind with sound bytes. What’s truly astounding about all of this is that we cannot even discuss whether race is a factor in the nomination process without being branded as racists. Following that line of reasoning to its logical conclusion, one should not be able to discuss whether religion is a factor, either, without being branded apostates; should not be able to discuss whether candidates personal financing is a factor, without being branded classists; should not be able to discuss anything without being branded something else.
As QJ said,
Ferraro’s point [was] that long time Clinton supporters are jumping ship on the flimsiest of excuses for no other reason that Obama is black and Hillary is white. How legitimate that point is, I’m not sure, but wouldn’t it be nice if we could actually consider it instead of reaching for the long knives?
That would require a mature discussion of race in this country.
For once, someone at the Huffington Post gets it right on this:
The great strength of the Obama campaign has rested squarely on his pitch that he’s the post-civil rights guy, with a broad based, issue driven, non-racial appeal. That’s the front door, image enhancing spin. The back door, under the table pitch is to subtly play race at every turn. Whether it’s getting Oprah to nakedly and blatantly rev up blacks on the campaign trail, or hint to black audiences about his poverty and civil rights work, or to cast a different cadence of speech when he’s talking to black groups, or most importantly to snatch at every chance to turn even the slightest reference to race by Clinton or anyone in her camp, such as Ferraro, into a federal case.
This tired act is wearing thin and thankfully a few that have not totally abandoned all sense of reason are seeing through this melodrama. In an editorial, “Obama and the Race Card,” the Wall Street Journal got it right. It blistered Obama for the wrong headed, and self-serving dictum that if anybody white dares bring up race they automatically will be branded as the second coming of David Duke (my characterization). Yet, it’s totally permissible ala the Lyndon Johnson blast at Clinton for the Obama campaign to bring up race when and wherever it’s deemed in their interest. —Earl Ofari Hutchinson
Ah, the politics of change: do as I say, not as I do. Second verse, same as the first.
I ask you, is it not inherently racist to say, “You can’t discuss race if you’re white?” Because that is exactly what the essence of this boils down to.
Geraldine Ferraro, former Vice Presidential candidate herself, congresswoman, and tireless advocate of civil rights–vetted by the Democratic party 20 years ago–painted as a racist for merely acknowleding that in the current climate, Obama’s race is helping him in the nomination process. Yet Obama’s own pastor, a man he’s quoted as calling “a mentor” as well as a “an old uncle who sometimes will say things that I (Obama) don’t agree with,” can discuss race until the cows come home without half of the scorn from those who objected so much to Ferraro’s remarks.
Where I think Ferraro missed the mark, however, was in failing to take her point further. Obama’s luck isn’t merely in who he is and how he is positioned at this point in history. His real luck lies in this country’s extreme dissatisfaction with the norm, and his mass appeal as potentially the nation’s first PC President. And Ferraro was right: Obama would not be where he is right now if not in part for his skin color, his sex, and his age.
We seem to forget that even in this country, African-Americans had the constitutional right to vote over fifty years before women did. We are a nation that has been historically more sexist than racist. Those are plain, cold facts that uppity-minded liberals refuse to admit because they’re distasteful. Was voting easy for blacks? Obviously not. But no woman in the USA could vote until 1918. The youth of today aren’t constantly barraged with messages they recognize as sexism–at least not nearly so much as those they recognize as racism. And while neither prejudice is better or worse than the other, it is the more obvious racism that draws youth to object loudly and flock to a banner, without really recognizing the struggle that goes on for women to this very day.
“Change” is very appealing to youth, as has been historically demonstrated by the trend of Americans to vote more liberally in their youth than in their later years. Given the choice between two candidates, young voters will chose the one who more obviously embodies the PC solution to what they perceive as societal inequality.
And once again the women get left behind.