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Barack Obama: Not Black Enough By: Alan Nathan
FrontPageMagazine.com | Monday, January 29, 2007

On January 25, 2007, The Washington Post reported that African Americans are wondering if Senator Barak Obama, D-IL, is black enough because of his rising popularity with whites. What if Caucasian Americans in 1992 wondered if then Governor Bill Clinton, D-AR, was white enough because of his rising popularity with blacks? The press would have had a collective organ shutdown. Apparently, double-standard thinking is only an evil until it’s convenient for the convictions of the minority bigot and his media enablers.

Under the headline, “Obama’s Appeal to Blacks Remains an Open Question,” the Post’s unchallenging reportage of his strongest supporters exposed an ugly fact: white presidential candidates must see beyond color while the black ones better not.


They quoted popular backer Rev. B. Herbert Martin, “Will he continue to be an African American, or will he become some kind of new creation?”


They additionally cited Professor Melissa V Harris-Lacewell of Princeton University:


“You can be elected president as a black person only if you signal at some level that you are independent from black people.” – a move she said would be ‘guaranteed’ to make black people angry.


Correctly, we expect white candidates to demonstrate independence from their race. We want them embracing all because the winner is president of all. Don’t citizens also have the right to expect the same neutrality from minority candidates? How can our leaders personify equality, if they’re required to disproportionately accommodate the interests of one demographic over many others?


Conversely, that same candidate mustn’t shy away from helping his own – providing it’s not because they are his own. He should do so for the reason any community is helped, the legitimacy of their need.


Senator Obama’s racial identity is not easily categorized and folks should say hooray for that. His father was a black Muslim from Kenya while his mother is a white atheist from Kansas, and he was raised with both Muslim and Christian teachings.


The irony of course is that for all of its pretense of enlightenment, the press is far behind the evolved thinking of the American public on race. Most of us see people who happen to be a certain color; the media sees people through a prism of that color.


Apparently, only by characterizing folks as having monolithic worldviews can they keep alive the venomous politics of race-bating and victimhood.


My fellow centrists are national defense hawks and social progressives. Although many of us differ with Obama on the war and entitlement programs, he’ll resonate with some in other areas.


The important thing here is that one of the most exciting figures in a long time is getting subjected to a standard that’s based on a ridiculously flawed measure – is he black enough?


Those believing in the question point to a recent Washington Post/ABC News Poll showing that New York Senator Hillary Clinton has 60 percent of the black Democrats while Barak Obama has only 20 percent of them.


On the flip side, Clinton has 35 percent of the whites and Obama has 17 percent. If we’re truly serious about lessons to be learned from numbers, we should emphasize a few surprises. Yes, Clinton has much more support than does Obama from both blacks and whites combined. However, Clinton also has far more black support than she does white.


Also included in this poll were Senator John Kerry (MA), Former VP Al Gore, and, former Senator John Edwards (NC). Perhaps the most telling result from this survey is that Obama had the best parity of black/white support.


Personally, I’m for America’s Mayor, Rudy Giuliani. But I still respect this man, and despise the lunacy that continues basing political viability on race.

According to the press, if Senator Obama doesn’t lose because he’s black, he’ll lose because he’s not.

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Alan Nathan, a combative centrist and "militant moderate," a columnist, and the nationally syndicated talk show host of "Battle Line With Alan Nathan" on the Radio America Network.

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