Monday, March 19, 2007

And While He Was at It, He Even Dissed Magic Johnson, Too

This site has made its endorsement of Barack Obama fully clear, probably tiresomely so. I figure it therefore has some measure of responsibility to respond to David Ehrenstein's "Obama the 'Magic Negro'" in the Op-Ed section of today's LA Times. An excerpt:

"Like a comic-book superhero, Obama is there to help, out of the sheer goodness of a heart we need not know or understand. For as with all Magic Negroes, the less real he seems, the more desirable he becomes. If he were real, white America couldn't project all its fantasies of curative black benevolence on him."

To get the full picture, you of course have to read the whole piece, but that paragraph sort of sums it up.

This kind of thing disillusions the hell out of me. Is there any other way to read something like this than, "This guy is a sellout and an Oreo and anyone who likes him secretly just wants to preserve oppressive racial hierarchies"?

There's a truth to Ehrenstein's argument that Obama will garner support from people of various backgrounds who harbor racial prejudice against African Americans. But I don't know why that makes it necessary to rip the man to shreads and brand all his followers dealers in the new slave trade.

I do have two guesses, though:

1) Instead of attempting to propose one's own solution for a systemic problem, it's a whole lot easier to stand back and criticize those who are actually trying to do so.

2) This type of stuff sells newspapers.

I wish I had it in me to put up a more thorough defense, but in the face of such fatalistic mockery, it can be really difficult to justify making the effort.

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