Thursday, March 24, 2011

Acting White

Rob Kirkpatrick at HuffPost/AOL News writes a fine article that's ostensibly about college basketball, but is actually about some very serious racial problems besetting the African American community.

Kirkpatrick asks why there seems to be so much "hatred" of Duke's basketball program and cites evidence that the ill-feeling is due to the fact that the black players Duke recruits come from homes that have "white" values. Duke's coaches allegedly shy away from black players who have troubled backgrounds or a history that suggests that they'd be at academic risk. Evidently black players who take academics seriously, come from stable, two parent families, intend to graduate, and don't wear their pants at mid-buttock are considered sell-outs to their race. One commentator even called the Duke athletes Uncle Toms.

Kirkpatrick cites an excerpt from a book by political strategist Ron Christie:
As Ron Christie demonstrates in his recent book, Acting White: The Curious History of a Racial Slur, the notion that blacks who sought social, cultural or intellectual advancement were "acting white" was a slur that originated during slavery and Reconstruction as a way for whites to keep down so-called "uppity" blacks....Since then, the stereotype of "acting white" also has taken hold within the African-American community as a form of black-on-black rhetoric that threatens to subvert the social and economic gains for which generations of blacks have fought.

A successful political strategist who happens to be black, Christie writes that he himself has been labeled as someone who "acts white" because he is well-dressed and well-spoken. In one instance while volunteering as a tutor and mentor for at-risk elementary children, one student asked him, "Is it cool to study and act white like you do?" When Christie asked the student what he meant, the student explained that everyone in his school knew that "if you study, pay attention in class, and do well, you're ACTING WHITE."
This is just great. A significant number of American blacks have been brainwashed into thinking that the values and virtues that lead to success in this country are somehow incompatible with being black and that if a black person adopts them then he or she is somehow betraying the race.

Asians don't think this way. Hispanics don't think this way. Just blacks, and, thankfully, just some blacks. Why? What sense does it make? Do they really think that they're better off not taking advantage of the educational opportunities they're being provided by the larger society? Or is their rejection of the path to success taken by others just a pose that enables them to rationalize an inability to compete in an academic environment?

In any case, I can't think of anything better suited to insure that blacks remain at the bottom of the socio-economic pyramid than a refusal to do what they need to do to climb to a higher level of achievement because doing so would be "acting white".

Read the whole article, especially if you're a college basketball fan. I think you'll find it pretty interesting.

What They Should Have Said

Mr. Obama's Libyan adventure has certainly thrown the normal ideological categories into disarray. The President is getting criticism from both left and right for committing us to an act of war and for the uncertain, even incoherent, manner in which he seems to have done it.

Our stance in earlier posts was that we had no business going to war with Libya unless it was to avert a slaughter of civilians. The Obama administration evidently believed that just such a slaughter was imminent, and chose to intervene. If a massacre was indeed in the offing, he was right to try to protect people, but the manner of his intervention has been, it seems to me, needlessly destructive and counterproductive. We've now taken hold of the tar baby without having any good plan for extricating ourselves.

In fact, I think both Col. Qaddafi and President Obama have both bungled their handling of this conflict.

Here's what each of them should have said in order to accomplish their respective goals. Qaddafi first:

Setting aside the morality of his aims, Col. Qaddafi would have been wise to explain from the very beginning that he was under attack by armed insurgents, not peaceful demonstrators, and had the right to repel and defeat them. He then should have emphasized that he would take every possible precaution to prevent the loss of civilian life. It's hard to believe that, had he done this, the coalition that has coalesced to oppose him would have had any heart for the task. He could have insured his security from a coalition attack even more firmly had he invited U.N. observers into Libya to monitor the actions of his forces. He could have beaten back the rebels and no outsiders would have tried to stop him.

A Qaddafi sympathizer would have to conclude that attacking civilians was a blunder. It would have been a fatal blunder had he been confronted by someone other than President Obama.

Mr. Obama's blunder might have been even worse than Col. Qaddafi's. If the President had reason to believe that Qaddafi would show no mercy toward Libyans in the cities of the east, but would hunt them down and slaughter them, he should have "made it clear", as he is wont to say, that if Mr. Qaddafi proceeds to carry out that threat the U.S. will not waste time and money on "no-fly" zones and air attacks on Libyan military installations and soldiers. We will not spend billions to move a fleet offshore and maintain it there. We will, if Qaddafi initiates such an atrocity against his people, simply seek him out and kill him.

The prospect of being personally targeted by an American "bunker buster" would have had a sobering effect on the Libyan leader's ambitions and brought to an abrupt halt any thought of civilian massacres.

If Mr. Qaddafi was intimidated by the threat of certain death there would have been no civilian massacre. If he ignored the threat there would be no more Col. Qaddafi and minimal civilian casualties. Either way, Mr. Obama would have achieved his goal without squandering our resources and getting us entangled in yet another military action in the Arab world.

If such talk smacks of illegality or sounds too bellicose for the tender ears of the sensitive folk at the U.N. Mr. Obama could have couched his declaration in terms of the need to decapitate the Libyan chain of command. There would have been no uncertainty in Mr. Qaddafi's mind about what exactly that meant.

Instead, Mr. Obama and his spokespersons have issued conflicting and confusing statements as to what our goals are, insisting on the one hand that Qaddafi "must" leave and on the other that we're not really targeting the Libyan leader. The limited and ambiguous nature of our stated intentions has only managed to embolden Qaddafi and to enmesh us in a conflict that's beginning to look as if it can only end in abject embarrassment and confusion. The coalition, with no clear endgame in sight, is losing its will and falling apart, leaving Qaddafi holding on to both his life and power and continuing his crimes against his people - as well as the rest of the world.

Candidate Obama promised us "smart power". What he's delivered hardly measures up to this lofty promise.

Meanwhile, a video has come to light in which then Senator Joe Biden calls for President Bush's impeachment for doing in Iraq almost exactly what President Obama has done in Libya:
I wonder how Mr. Biden explains why he would have impeached Mr. Bush for attacking Iraq, but recoils from calls by members of his own party for Mr. Obama's impeachment.

It's no wonder politicians are held in such low esteem by the public.