Archive for the ‘racism’ Tag

a breakthrough, not a breakdown

Now Victor Davis Hanson is on about it:

This is what the triangulation of Obama has helped to unleash: most Americans will now doubt the moral authority of the African-American intellectual and religious community not just to question the questionable racial remarks of a Bill Clinton, Ed Rendell, or Geraldine Ferraro, but also the Wright-like crudity of a Don Imus or a Michael Richards. Context is now king.

This disastrous regression in race relations is the natural dividend of liberal identity politics, most recently brought to the fore by the wife of the first “black President”, the first “transracial” black Presidential candidate, and the “prophet” and “healer” Reverend Wright.

Why are people decrying the truth getting out? All that’s happening is Americans are finally seeing what’s been going on all this time, that racism is not just something white people feel, but something quite common in the black community as well. Hiding it, giving black racists unquestioned moral authority, WAS the disaster.

Now we are seeing what I hope will be an awakening, a realization that we MUST question the moral authority of black leaders, and white leaders, and Asian leaders, male and female leaders, in fact, we MUST QUESTION ALL AUTHORITY. That which passes the test, we should hold in high regard. That which doesn’t, i.e., that authority which is being misused by racists and sexists and other bigots, should be dashed against the rocks. That is the only way forward, the only way towards racial conciliation in this nation.

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H/t Instapundit

Cf. just rhetoric? what?

just rhetoric? what?

All of the hooplah about Obama’s spiritual advisor has generated a little blogstorm it seems. The Anchoress, whom I very much respect, says this is destructive:

I was in the car today and flipped on Sean Hannity and heard him really carrying on, saying that because Obama “sat in those pews for 20 years,” even if he repudiated Wright it would not be “credible.”

. . .

Is Hannity suggesting that a politician must review a pastor’s sermons each week and run around denouncing and deserting those preachers who might cause him a little bit of political heat? Wouldn’t that be both extreme behavior and a bit dis-crediting?

. . .

Wright’s rhetoric is extreme, but it’s just rhetoric.

This issue is pretty thoroughly hashed out in the comments and, whichever side you are on, I highly recommend them. The Anchoress’ comments in response to opponents especially made me think about this issue.

But that’s not what this post is about. This post is about that last line up there, “it’s just rhetoric.”

Nonsense. Rhetoric is the art of persuasion, and it is rarely empty. All a political campaign is, for example, is rhetoric. Nothing more. Even the showy parts, wearing a flag pin (or not), kissing babies, making policy speeches, debates, these are all rhetoric. If the Anchoress means that Wright’s rhetoric is hyperbolic, that’s one thing. To say it’s just rhetoric, as if there is no meaning imparted, as if no one’s mind could possibly be changed by it, is false and dangerous. It was ignoring Hitler’s rhetoric that resulted in WWII. It was ignoring Al Qaeda’s rhetoric that probably led us to fail to predict the 9/11 attacks. It’s been ignoring the racist, hateful, divisive rhetoric of certain black preachers and the Nation of Islam that has strengthened racial division in the US and prevented healing and reconciliation to a certain extent.

Rhetoric should be treated seriously. When the results of one’s words have real consequences, one can stick to his guns or modify his words. Either way, it is only by taking words seriously and acting on what our fellow citizens say that we find out whether the words were truly meaningful or empty rhetoric.

(This post will have a follow-up.) Update 2008 June 21: Or maybe not. It’s been too long to even remember what I wanted to follow up with. I blame grad school.