Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Barack Obama's Race Problem: White Liberals

The white liberals who will decide the Democratic race are genuinely excited about the prospect of an African-American elected president.

They are equally, if not more, desperate not to be considered racist. But never underestimate the ability of a liberal to rationalize.

On the one hand they yearn to prove themselves racially virtuous; on the other hand is their conviction that other less enlightened Americans can't be trusted to give a black candidate a fair shake. On the one hand they claim to be champions of minorities; on the other they have developed a reflexive instinct to protect rather than promote minorities.
But won't guilty white liberals turn to Obama as a sacrament of racial absolution? Not necessarily.

Deep down, guilty white liberals feel guilty about other people's attitudes and behavior, not their own. To the contrary they are smugly certain of their own racial virtue; in fact, (they will tell themselves) they care so deeply about black people that they feel an obligation to protect them from an unenlightened electorate. Don't be surprised if many white liberals end up voting against Obama, while telling themselves they are doing it because they are so supportive of minority aspirations.

That's Obama's racial problem.

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