Saturday, March 22, 2008

Conservatives on race

The debate on race that Barack Obama helped begin with his speech in Philadelphia has started to take some interesting turns, particularly among conservatives. I know lots of conservatives who are not racist and recognize the burdens that African Americans face. Some conservatives don't like affirmative action. That's a legitimate topic of debate. Affirmative action is one of those things that we will know is successful when we can do away with it. The question is, when will that be? And there are some conservatives who are disgusted with Jeremiah Wright's apparently anti-American rants. Again, honest differences of opinion. Some people denounce him completely for his comments, others try to understand where he's coming from, and see the whole man.

But then there's Pat Buchanan. This is mind-boggling.

First, America has been the best country on earth for black folks. It was here that 600,000 black people, brought from Africa in slave ships, grew into a community of 40 million, were introduced to Christian salvation, and reached the greatest levels of freedom and prosperity blacks have ever known.

I'll be the one of the first liberals to acknowledge that one of the great virtues of American society is that we have lots of opportunities to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps - I'm the product of people who did exactly that. And Barack and Michelle Obama are both clearly examples of people who have done that, as well. And Buchanan is technicaly correct that lots of African Americans have prospered. But he seems to think that, once the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act were passed in the 60's, all racism and its effects simply vanished, and that whatever problems African Americans have is strictly their own fault. That's beyond ridiculous.

He thinks that black people in America owe whites thanks:

We hear the grievances. Where is the gratitude?

Seriously? Barack Obama is running for President of the United States of America. Does Buchanan think he's doing that just as a joyride? He's doing it because he loves this country, and he thinks he can make it better. He's incredibly grateful for the opportunities he has had. He makes that clear. If Pat Buchanan thinks otherwise, he's not listening. Which, of course, would not be surprising.

Buchanan claims that he's hearing the grievances, but he doesn't seem to give them any credence. He doesn't seem to think that the grievances have any legitimacy. Which is absurd and incredibly insulting to African Americans. Yes, there have been great strides in redressing the sins of the past in this country. But forty years of opportunity is not much time to make up 350 years of oppression. If Pat Buchanan wants to hear expressions of gratitude from African Americans about all the wonderful things white people have done for them, he could start by stop whining about the problems of being a white American male.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow. So I suppose if another country thought it was better than ours and had the one true religion, they could justify taking Pat and his kids on slave ships, rape them, put them in servitude, beat them, etc and Pat would praise them to high heaven with thanks. Cool, Pat, cool.