Essay | Let Us Not Pat Our Backs So Hard

Previously, on the greatest spectator sport in the world: Barack Obama, as we have all expected for at least a month, has become the presumptive Democratic nominee for President of the United States. When it finally, finally, finally became official, the media could finally let loose all the stories about it being a historic first and world changing event that they've been holding in. Tim Russert exclaimed that he'd like to be a teacher in an inner-city school on that day. People were marveling at being part of history, about the possibility of electing the first black leader in a predominantly white country. Not just a first for the US, but for the entire western world.

That's great. It really is. But it strikes me that the rhetoric going around is starting to get awfully self-congratulatory. People, like Frank Schaeffer at the Huffington Post, are saying things such as, "All over the world our country ... looks immeasurably better because we have grown up enough to embrace a black candidate, our fraught and sordid racial history notwithstanding."

Worse yet, angry lawn protectors like Pat Buchanan have proclaimed that black people should be grateful because all that slavery & oppression has ultimately led to the most prominent black people in the world, as opposed to all that violence going on in the homeland (And white colonialism had nothing to do with that no siree)

There is a general air of, "Damn we're really progressive and great" that is going to be dangerous in the long run to even more progress. Look at the arguments today. When people try and argue that racism is not a problem in America, they point to ridiculous trivia like Oprah Winfrey and Barack Obama. While good signs, they are nothing more than that. Signs of getting better, not evidence that we are cured. They are exceptions and not the rule. Mouthpieces like Buchanan are effectively telling people, "You're not a slave anymore so what is left to complain about?"

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