Thursday, May 21, 2015

President Obama's Racist Legacy

I was to the University of Washington's Meany Center for the Performing Arts last night to hear Rhiannon Giddens. Giddens is a 2000 graduate of Oberlin and she's parlayed her opera degree into a nice little gig doing bluegrass.

What with the opera training, Giddens has a fine singing voice, and she also plays violin and banjo.

Did you know that the banjo was invented by African Americans?

But guess what, this privileged lady is now doing protest, so she contributed to We Are Not For Sale: Songs of Protest by the NC Music Love Army.

Gotta love these Oberlin liberals: their echo chamber lets them say and sing the darndest things!

Hey Rhiannon! When you are performing at the UW World Series isn't it a bit racist to be talking about 4-year-old Chinese child workers? Are there any 4-year-old Chinese workers? Google doesn't seem to think so. But there is this youTube of a 5-year-old Chinese boy operating his Dad's frontloader. Yes, we should definitely put a stop to that! Why pretty soon every 5-year-old All American boy will be demanding to be allowed to do the same!

But here's what I took away from the concert.

President Obama has flown African Americans up a box canyon. The man that talked about ending America's divisions had divided us. Well, what do you expect: he's a politician. Not one, but two of Giddens's sidemen gave us the Black Lives Matter line that the po-lice are targeting African American young men. One of them sang a song about dear old Huey P. Newton.

Look, it's a free country, although we should thank our lucky stars that Giddens's group wasn't a bunch of crazy whites babbling racist hate speech about Waco or Ruby Ridge. Imagine!

Did I mention that Rhiannon Giddens was African American? Who knew? She presents herself as a nice middle-class girl that might be any combination of mixed race -- rather like Cablinasian Tiger Woods. But she did go to Oberlin. That explains a lot.

The thing about politics is, as I like to say, that politics is division. Any professional politician is an expert in dividing up the cake so that he gets 51% of the vote and the other guy is let with the remainder. But the measure of any man is how he rises above the ordinary.

The measure of a general is to rise above merely using his troops as food for powder. He knows that in order to win the battle or the war he is going to use up many of the lives of the young men assembled under military discipline in his command. Can he use those mothers' sons for a worthy cause or are they going to be complete wasted, men dying by the roadside of hunger or sickness -- the usual fate of the soldier -- or shattered in the holocaust of battle?

Same thing with the CEO. The measure of a CEO is to rise above merely using his employees as cannon fodder for the market wars. Can he rise above that? Can he generate a corporate culture that actually helps his employees grow and flourish?

Then there's the politician. Is he just a divider? President Bush's famous line that he was a uniter, not a divider, is actually a sheepish admission of the politician's art. He is a divider, but every politician nurses in his heart the faith that all this dividing is really for a higher, better cause: to unite his nation and lead it from the dusty plains into sunlit uplands.

I don't know what President Obama thinks about the calling of the politician. With any public figure I assume that I know nothing about him, because any public figure is a social construct, a creation of publicity. But the evidence of his actions suggests that he is not a man that has risen above the dust and grime of his calling to something higher and better.

That's a shame: for African Americans -- who he has confirmed in their racism and victimology -- for America --which has not flourished on his watch -- and for the world -- which has not become more peaceful during his leadership.

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