Opinion

Obama’s Race Gambit

In the heady atmosphere leading up to the 2008 presidential election, a messianic Senator Barack Obama proclaimed he was “five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.” That transformation, echoed by Michelle Obama, was to change the conversation, change our traditions, change our history, and move the nation to a different place. That place—an America without the stain of injustice and discrimination, without the disconnect between ideals and reality—would at long last realize “America’s improbable experiment in democracy.”

To get to there, Americans had to embrace the engine of his transformation—a forced march toward the extreme left—which we soon learned would be run largely on the fuel of race. It was on race that President Obama would hang all of America’s ills—economic inequality, police corruption, institutional bias, criminal justice inequity; not to mention everyday discrimination in housing, employment, education, and opportunity . . . even in the words we use. The result—on the eve of the 2016 presidential election, Americans find themselves facing a racial divide and political polarization at a level of animus that hasn’t been seen since the 1950s and 1960s.

How did we get here from there?

By zealously pursuing a collectivist agenda and choosing race as the common denominator in our political and social interactions, President Obama has effectively blunted the very thing that fights racism best—individualism and individual rights. Consider his infamous assertion: “If you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. . . . If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.” On its face this is a foolish statement—diminishing producers, innovators and entrepreneurs, the very people who take risks, produce wealth, and create jobs—but ever the café socialist, Mr. Obama was subtly affirming his belief that the individual and his achievements are subordinate to the collective good and that the true seat of power, rights, and moral authority is the state. As he has preached since Joe the Plumber, there is a fundamental “unfairness” to our capitalist system, and to expiate our sins of avarice and white privilege we must renounce individual wealth and redistribute it to those more deserving—it’s not ours anyway.

From the beginning, to gain greater purchase for his collectivist/racial program, President Obama took the unprecedented step of airing America’s failings to an international audience. Starting with his so-called Apology Tour in 2009—also referred to as the Confession Tour and Self-Loathing Tour—he systematically cast America as an imperfect, arrogant nation that, in its darker periods (of slavery and segregation), veered off course and sacrificed its values. At the United Nations, he spoke of “our own racial and ethnic tensions” in “the small American city of Ferguson, Missouri”—trying to equate that event to ISIS and Russian aggression. In a press conference with the prime minister of Japan, he opined on the death of Freddie Gray: “Since Ferguson . . . we have seen too many instances of what appears to be police officers interacting with individuals — primarily African American, often poor — in ways that have raised troubling questions.” What rises to the surface from his overall strategy is that American racism almost always has a white face.

By making race so primary to his governance, President Obama has virtually institutionalized the idea that white racism is a crime, whereas black or other minority forms of racism are expressions of ethnic pride and legitimate responses to oppression—which cannot be understood by whites and cannot be considered racism because minorities lack political power.

Yes, race and ethnicity have always mattered in the American confluence, but in reality they are imposed constructs that have no standing in human biology and are terms rejected by anthropologists. As such, individual racism remains a moral issue, not a legal one, and should be fought privately by economic and social means.

In the end, to divide a people racially and ideologically is a dangerous gambit, and by doing so President Obama is leaving us in a dystopian free-for-all—where any party, any minority, any tribe, any kind of pressure group can, and do, make claims for exclusive rights, preferences and special considerations—all the while bargaining away our future on an un-American vision of ourselves.