[Marxism] Ta-Nehisi Coates on Obama

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Jul 21 11:28:36 MDT 2010

(Coates urged an Obama vote in 2008 on a panel discussion with 
Doug Henwood.)

Taking it all in, it must be said that the landscape is as 
follows: We have an administration that will contort itself to 
defend a movement whose convention speakers call for the 
reinstatement of the tools of segregation. That same 
administration will swiftly jettison an appointee, herself the 
victim of homegrown terrorism, for echoing the kind of message of 
redemption and personal responsibility that has become the 
president's hallmark on race. Andrew Breitbart says that Sherrod's 
speech, not the Tea Party's rhetoric, is the real racism. It is an 
argument that is as old as American white supremacy, and one that 
this administration, through its actions over the past week, has 
tacitly endorsed.

The argument has been made that this isn't Obama, just the people 
working under him. That theory elides the responsibility of 
leaders to set a tone. The tone that Obama has set, in regards to 
race, is to retreat with great velocity in the face of anything 
that can be defined as "racial." Granted, this has been 
politically smart. Also granted, Obama has done it with nuance. 
But it can not be expected that the president's subordinates will 
share that nuance.

More disturbingly, this is what happens when you treat the arrest 
of a black man, in his home, as something that can be fixed over 
beers. This is what happens when you silently ascent to the notion 
that racism and its victims are somehow equally wrong. The ground, 
itself, is rigged with a narrative of inversion that goes back 
centuries. When you treat the two side as equals, expect not just 
more of the same. Expect worse.


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