Barack Obama doesn’t want America validated, at least not by the wrong people.
In taking a shot at Republicans Tim Scott and Nikki Haley, Obama told his former campaign manager, David Axelrod, in a podcast interview, “I think there’s a long history of African American or other minority candidates within the Republican Party who will validate America and say, ‘Everything’s great, and we can make it.'”
And who would want that dangerous message spreading across the land, poisoning young minds and misinforming the credulous?
Citing America’s racial history, Obama said: “If somebody is not proposing, both acknowledging and proposing elements that say, ‘No, we can’t just ignore all that and pretend as if everything’s equal and fair. We actually have to walk the walk and not just talk the talk.’ If they’re not doing that, then I think people are rightly skeptical.”
Obama’s statement was a classic expression of the disdain that progressives feel for minority conservatives. The left considers them traitors to their racial groups, who use their personal credibility to counter the conventional narrative on racism in a way that is profoundly threatening.
Scott replied to Obama with one of his characteristic lines, “The truth of my life disproves the lies of the radical left.”
There are several things to say about this exchange. First, it’s rich for Obama, the son of a white mother and a Kenyan economist, who attended a prestigious Hawaii prep school, to lecture the descendant of slaves about the realities of race in America.
Two, when the mood of the left was more optimistic and less obsessed with so-called white supremacy, Barack Obama used to sound a lot like Tim Scott. He emphasized uplift and how his success showed what’s possible in America.
Axelrod remarked on the similarity in his interview. It feels like an artifact from a different time that people actually chanted, “Race doesn’t matter” at Obama’s victory party when he won the 2008 South Carolina primary. Now, no one inclined to attend a party for a major national Democrat would dare think such a thing, let alone say it.
Three, it’s wrong to imply that Tim Scott doesn’t have a plan for the betterment of America and minorities, it’s just not the kind of plan that Obama supports as a man of the left who believes that the state is the essential agent of change.
Finally, Tim Scott’s more hopeful view of America is the correct one. Despite its past and its flaws, the country is open, fair-minded, and in no way the nightmarish regime of white privilege portrayed in left-wing caricature. Otherwise, one wonders, why would so many people who will be minorities in America be so eager to leave their own countries to come here?
As Wilfred Reilly of Kentucky State University noted in Commentary Magazine, Indian Americans have roughly double the median household income of white Americans. Ghanaians and the Guyanese earn more than whites, while Nigerians are the best educated group in the country and earn about the same as whites. The same is true of West Indians.
“West Indian English-speakers and second-generation Ghanaian Americans,” Reilly writes, “look and sound almost exactly like black Americans: Bigots are unlikely to put their prejudices aside when they meet one.” Yet, by and large, they thrive here.
“The relevant question for scholars and public intellectuals today,” he continues, “is not whether racism remains real (yes), but how large its effect actually is in a 39 percent minority society where 92 percent of white people appear not to be serious bigots. The honest answer appears to be: ‘not huge.'”
Back in his famous DNC speech in 2004, addressing a pre-“woke” Democratic Party, Obama said, “I stand here knowing that my story is part of the larger American story, that I owe a debt to all of those who came before me, and that, in no other country on earth, is my story even possible.”
He was right the first time.
(Rich Lowry is on Twitter @RichLowry)
(c) 2023 by King Features Syndicate