“Racism is the Only Reason McCain Might Beat Him”

Over at Slate, Jacob Weisberg, raises some important points about the racial implications of Senator Obama’s campaign, especially why he might lose and what the impact might be. The latter question is one rarely discussed in the mass media so far.

Weisberg reiterates a point we have made with social science data on whites’ racist thinking on this site before:

To some white voters (14 percent in the CBS/New York Times poll), Obama is someone who, as president, would favor blacks over whites. Or he is an “elitist” who cannot understand ordinary (read: white) people because he isn’t one of them.

Then he discusses overt white-racist stuff that gets very little critical attention in the media or from politicians:

In May, Pat Buchanan, who writes books about the European-Americans losing control of their country, ranted on MSNBC in defense of white West Virginians voting on the basis of racial solidarity. The No. 1 best-seller in America, Obama Nation by Jerome R. Corsi, Ph.D., leeringly notes that Obama’s white mother always preferred that her “mate” be “a man of color.” John McCain has yet to get around to denouncing this vile book.

Why don’t these pundits get the critical attention they deserve. Clearly, the media’s own racism seems to handicap them in an honest and critical examination of the racist ideas of such pundits.

In my view, in this country now we need to end this sweeping racism under the rug. We need a huge and candid public discussion of white racism, its great and continuing toxic reality, and of our need for anti-racist action on a large scale. And we need that large scale organizing for that anti-racist action now if we are to see a Black man as president.

Weisberg closes with some rather insightful discussion of the positive effects of an Obama victory, but then asks out loud about the impacts of his losing:

If Obama loses, our children will grow up thinking of equal opportunity as a myth. His defeat would say that when handed a perfect opportunity to put the worst part of our history behind us, we chose not to. In this event, the world’s judgment will be severe and inescapable: The United States had its day but, in the end, couldn’t put its own self-interest ahead of its crazy irrationality over race.

I am inclined to agree with all but the “crazy irrationality” part. Systemic racism is about material inequality, white power and privilege, and a strong white racial framing to protect white interests, now over nearly four centuries, and not about some wild-racist irrationality.

What do you think of Weisberg’s comments?


  1. I’ve thought often of what happens if Obama loses. It would definitely destroy the hopes and dreams of millions. And, it would definitely give the impression that many millions more still harbor deep racial resentment. It would just prove how far America is from its ideal.

  2. JDF

    Thanks for the posting; this Slate piece was very insightful, though you were correct, Joe, about the all-too familiar tendency of people to perceive racism as a product of irrationality or as a pathology/sickness. This line of thought towards racism, despite one’s intentions, helps whites (esp. white male elites) off the hook for their attempt to retain their power and privileges. The author is correct, nonetheless, in that Obama is the superior candidate, and the MSM bends backwards to make this race a close one (CNN’s coverage of the convention last night serves as a good case in point).

  3. GDAWG

    Excellent post Joe. It seems Mr. Weisberg is not drinking the Kool-Aid and is coming to grips with the realities being visited upon this nation. And it appears that the future is even more shaky, with the “wrong” leader in place as POTUS. I, personally, don’t think BO is the answer to these myriad of issues, especially with the likes of all of the clintonitas, Holbrooke, Albright, and that clique he’s surrounding himself with. And, obviously, I would not dare go with McCain.

  4. I think Weisberg is spot on. While his “what if” scenario is logical, i would frankly be surprised if “our children” even contemplate equal opportunity in this context. For the white ones un-critically think it already exists and the black ones know it never will.

    But i applaud the sentiments expressed in the piece. How much longer can it be until more of the msm run with this storyline.

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