The Daily Herald, a Chicago-area paper, waxed triumphant over the ascendancy of Barack Obama to the assumed position as the Democratic Party nominee for the presidency today. The article was filled with soaring pronouncements of the historical nature of this moment and what it means for America but, by the end of the piece, "Historic candidacy brings hope, obligation," one gets the feeling that the Daily Herald is saying that if you don't vote for Obama it's because you're a racist.
Of course, the Herald's piece is centered on America's past as a pretext to say that Obama might somehow deserve to become president because of our past history of oppression. Just as sure, the Herald completely ignores all the great strides in race relations since passage of the 1964 civil rights legislation that finally sent the country on the right course for race relations. Sadly, the Herald piece seems to assume the country hasn't changed at all since Lincoln took the oath of office.
Noting that Obama said that his moment was a moment for America, the Herald took that further.
He did not say "Black America" or "White America." Just "America." And that is how it should be, this moment so long in coming for a nation founded on the principle that "All men are created equal" even as it enslaved some, disenfranchised others, and restricted for too long many men and women from actively participating in the political process that ensures our nation's strength.
Of course, Obama didn't say "black America or white America," because he is smarter than that. But, this paragraph completely ignores the great strides this country has made in the last 45 years. Why is that, one wonders?
The Herald goes from Lincoln's dream of "a new birth of freedom" to Martin Luther King, Jr.'s later "I have a dream" dream, right to Obama taking the Democratic Party nomination for president as if nothing else happened. Apparently, Condi Rice, Colin Powell, Justice Thomas... even Justice Thurgood Marshall never happened. American blacks went from slavery, to Jim Crow to sudden freedom with a Barack nomination with no other stops in between in this meme. This sort of rhetoric ignores nearly 50 years of advancement in race relations. It ignores the fact that American blacks fill high positions in entertainment, sports, business, government, and education the country over. In fact, in every single area of American life, black Americans are seen as leaders and movers and shakers.
It is entirely disingenuous of the media to act as if we've gone from Jim Crow to Barack Obama in one fell swoop. But, it does fill the need of the media to over simplify the nature of American race relations and to keep blacks in thrall to past slights, unable to move philosophically into a future they already inhabit in reality.
Folks, this is the sort of starry-eyed triumphialism we will be seeing more and more as this candidacy rolls on. You can bet that this media narrative will trump about anything that McCain can come up with.
After recounting America's racist past, the Herald goes on to make it seem as if we still haven't dealt with any of it. Without naming names, the Herald claimed that some people "invoked racism and sexism" during the campaign so far.
But there were those who invoked racism and sexism with incendiary rhetoric, stirring emotions and discontent we clearly still need to address as a nation. Such discussion is paramount to true equality for all as we move forward, but nothing can take away from the historic precedents set by Clinton's primary candidacy and by Obama's ultimate achievement.
Yes, Daily Herald, and most of it came from the campaign of the very candidate you are lauding, Barack Obama! Obama's surrogates like Wright and Father Pfleger have been the ones to ramp up the racism drama, not anyone else.
Remember, Herald, that Obama could not possibly have gotten where he is right now without the support of millions of white voters. I'd dare say that this singular fact, that millions of whites freely and happily voted for this black candidate, makes the lie to the Herald's claim that we haven't "addressed" racism as a nation.
And then comes the Daily Herald's final hectoring of the American electorate.
The obligation is on each of us to participate as the presidential campaign moves to the next level. Learn as much as you can about each party's candidate, assess them without regard to race or religion but by ability, and then make sure you are registered so you can vote.
Once again, the Herald seems to feel that America needs to be reminded that we shouldn't vote based on "race or religion" -- as if this warning is needed. The primaries themselves have proven wrong the Herald's assumption that everyone is a racist. And votes on that basis.
Like I said, be ready for this to be the media's meme. You are a racist if you vote against Obama. Obama's candidacy is the only good thing that has happened to race relations since MLK strode the Earth. Race relations have not changed in America since 1964. These are the things we will be slammed with until November.
The media will tell us over and over that we deserve no credit for the long way we've come since slave traders bought and sold blacks in America. Obama is a sudden dawn of enlightenment that will ignore all the hard work done by millions of Americans prior to his candidacy.
In effect, the media agrees with Michelle Obama. They have never been proud of America until Barack became a candidate for president either.
(Photo Credit: REUTERS/Rick Wilking)