Saturday, December 20, 2008

Who woulda thunk?

There's an unwritten hierarchy when it comes to subaltern, oppressed classes theory. And Blacks normally sit at the peak of it, mostly because of the history of slavery in America. The way some of the recent cases of overt and not-so-subtle white racism have panned out, e.g., Don Imus's firing, Dog the Bounty Hunter's show cancellation etc., have reinforced this order. There's no doubt that leashing these tendencies are in the interest of American society, but the downside is that this has also engendered an undercurrent of discontent among whites. 

Rev. Jeremiah Wright was the obverse of this tendency, namely, he was and continues to be perhaps, a Black racist. And an anti-Semite. There's a history of Black anti-Semitism, too, but that's a different issue for another time. The oppressed, suppressed, enslaved, and exploited too have their own bigotry. Nothing surprising about that. 

Which is why election of Barack Obama is a big event. An even bigger one for Blacks. Obama got the most black vote ever. The Black community rallied like never before to get him elected. It was symbolic above all to have a first black president.  The opportunist black leaders of civil rights era were initially fidgety about crossing over to Obama since they were rooting for the establishment candidate, Hillary Clinton. But as their constituents shifted towards Obama, so did these so-called leaders.  They had no option but to answer their natural calling: their survival instinct. Jesse Jackson, Charles Rangel, and some prominent southern black politicians made this switch late in the campaign mostly for survival. When Obama gave his victory speech they even showed Jesse Jackson crying. There's no way to know if those were genuine tears, or if he was crying only because he was expected to cry. 

Anyway, the only reason to cite all this recent history is to explain another phenomenon. Because of the historical election of Barack Obama, there is virtually unanimous black consensus to protect and justify actions of Obama. How long Obama's honeymoon with the genral populace will last is anybody's guess, but there are two constituencies that will cheer for him even longer, if not forever: the American media and the black population. 

Recently Obama took a supposedly controversial decision. He invited evangelical pastor Rick Warren to officiate his inauguration ceremony("to deliver the invocation" to be precise).

This pastor guy is, just like other evangelicals, against homsexuality. Now, some of Obama's big fundraisers in California were organized by gay groups. Among Obama's early cheerleaders are openly gay mediamen like Andrew Sullivan. And the gays are understandably furious at the selection of Rick Warren. Moreso because the evangelicals vote Republican in large numbers while the gay groups were "toiling" for Obama victory. They see it as a betrayal. What worst, for gays, is that pastor Rick Warren supported Proposition 8 (an anti-gay marriage ballot measure in California) which passed successfully. Meaning the state of California banned gay marriage, which was only recently revoked by a California court. The gay groups blamed Mormons, evangelicals, and blacks for their debacle. Blacks may be oppressed and all that but they mostly are influenced by the fundamentalist Christianity of American South. When the blacks came out enmasse to vote for Obama, they also voted for the gay marriage ban. 

The result is we get to witness an unprecedented theater, a mudfest between gays and blacks, while both groups are supporters of Obama, and largely voted Democrats. 

One (black) columnist at Washington Post, Colbert King, wrote in a column today justifying Obama's invitation to Rick Warren. The comments section is animated by guilt-tripping barbs from all sides, but more prominently by gays. 

The gays are playing the victims, and the blacks are being shown to be bigoted. And this is unusual. the traditional hierarchy of victimhood is being jolted. All this is surreal. And funny to boot.

P.S.: Obama's inclusion of Rick Warren is obviously not altruistic. He is merely bowing to the existent power structure, evangelicals being a powerful voting group, certainly more powerful and influential than the numbers and money that gays can ever get him. He is already eyeing 2012 re-election. Only history will tell if Obama's politics of appeasement will carry him all the way to White House, again, come next election.

2 comments:

Dosabandit said...

I think the black enthusiasm in Obama is a little misplaced. Obama does not exactly share the same black American history. His ancestry does not share the same dark history. Neither is his upbringing and the circumstances or environment in which he grew up the same.

socal said...

It is quite possible that Blacks might not exactly be enamored of their choice four yrs. hence. But they will mostly condone his lapses, and probably justify them more acutely. Symbolism is more important for them.