Chauncey’s back at it again. Whitewashing the Obama administration. I honestly don’t get it. At this point, three quarters of the eight year term, it would seem to be a time for critical candor among black intellectuals and pundits about this administration’s accomplishments and failures and, more important for its impact upon the trajectory of this government, some recognition of its criminality. I monitor We are respectable negroes as a part of an experiment I undertook a couple of years ago to find out why black people were avid supporters of Obama despite his pursuit of a highly conservative agenda on all fronts. I wanted to know how they rationalized this to themselves and We are respectable negroes was the ideal specimen of a black pro-Obama blog, the perfect place to explore this question. I continue my critique of Chauncey DeVega’s affection for Obama, though I am banned from the site and therefore cannot comment there. Nevertheless I still follow his blog in an effort to discern what it is about Obama that generates such loyalty in De Vega and, by extension, the great majority of black people. I present my commentary here from time to time.
Chauncey doesn’t come right out and advocate for Obama. Policy wise there is nothing pro-black there to recommend. To say nothing of pro-poor. (And in this racist society blacks are mostly poor.) Policy wise there is nothing to recommend Obama to black people. Chauncey’s approach is more subtle. What does generate support for Obama is to point out how he is racially discriminated against by Republicans. That infuriates black people because every black person in America, except for Morgan Freeman, knows how that feels. And it is an insult to us all to have the highest office holder in the land discriminated against because of the color of his skin. DeVega plays upon that visceral affinity in all black Americans (except of course Morgan Freeman) and leads his readers down the logical fallacy hole that a common background of racial discrimination justifies black support for the neo-liberal polices, warmongering and mass surveillance embodied in Obama.
Barack Obama is approaching the end of his second term as President of the United States. As we assess Obama’s performance and record, I wonder, was our black street musician a prophet? The Right-wing noise machine, with the help of some African-Americans in the media and elsewhere, has conjured up a new meme and talking point which suggests that “Black Americans are doing worse under Barack Obama than they were in 2008 under Bush”. This is an insincere lie and misrepresentation of empirical reality where “white” and “gray” propaganda– what is a mix of “facts” and “half-facts”–are used to slur black people as politically unsophisticated and stupid, as well as to suggest that Romney and company would have done better by black Americans than Barack Obama. The subtext of the Right-wing media’s “black folks would have done better without Obama” talking point is that African-Americans are practicing “racial tribalism” against white Republicans. Consequently, anti-white “racism” by African-Americans has created self-inflicted wounds; voting for the Democratic Party is an act of political self-flagellation. The most effective propaganda mixes “facts” with “common sense”: such a combination makes the lie that much harder to rebut. The White Right’s newest meme about Obama’s performance as it relates to the relative health of Black America should be framed as one of alternatives, where the premise and question is the more accurate, “how much worse would black and brown folks be doing if Republicans had been elected to the White House in 2008 and 2012?” How would you rebut or respond to the White Right’s talking point that Obama has left Black Americans worse off than the alternative that was/is a Tea Party GOP President and Vice President? http://www.chaunceydevega.com/2014/07/a-broken-saxophone-playing-hail-to.html
I don’t think there is any question that blacks are worse off under Obama than they were under Bush. This is not to say that that Bush’s policies were more favorable, by any means. It’s just that the deplorable condition of the black community that prevailed during the Bush administration has been allowed to get even worse under Obama’s ironic benign neglect. Nor does it follow that blacks would have been even worse off under a Republican administration. Republicans would not have been able to neutralize the Left, as Obama has done. Liberals would be vigorously fighting back against regressive policies put forth by a Republican administration. With liberals putting up a fight they might have even won some battles, thus making things better in spite of a Republican at the helm. Under Obama they put up virtually no fight at all and instead fell in line behind and rolled over for the same kinds of regressive policies under Obama. The most conservative president in the history of this nation.