Sunday, April 13, 2008

A Fish Story That's More Than A Fish Story

From Jimmy by Bruce A. Jacobs:

I have written before that I think a lot of Obama's success -- or, better put, his lack of vulnerability on standard "black" grounds -- has to do with his nimbly leapfrogging white mainstream and media anxiety about the political "bad nigger:" you know, the black ex-slave with an attitude. Deep in official Washington, and I suspect in the fearful center-right of much of the Democratic leadership, is a suspicion that a passionately popular black candidate has got to be hiding some bad nigger in him somewhere, and that when it finally emerges it will scare the hair off of white America, like a fast-moving black kid who suddenly jumps onto their elevator. I'm not much enamored of Obama's actual politics -- he's soft on banks, private-sector-protective on health care, and more protest than policy on Iraq -- but I believe there is a body of official wisdom poised to nail the ostensible "bad nigger" in Obama. Reverend Jeremiah Wright is now that designated bad Obama nigger: angry, preachy, unrepentantly accusatory, and, by the way, absolutely correct on the subject of America's moral and political hypocrisies. Wright's ceaselessly-soundbited "God damn America" quote, for instance, if you read or listen to the sermon from whence it comes, is in fact part of an extended reference to the failure of a long line of world empires to live up to the demands of a just God. It is clearly not a call for Locusts and Inferno to visit upon Washington. But the "bad nigger" script calls for a vengeful escaped slave behind the spectacularly appealing Obama persona. And if Obama himself cannot be successfully tagged with the feared role, then the search turns to his associates.

Mr. Jacobs is the author of Race Manners for the 21st Century: Navigating the Minefield Between Black and White Americans in an Age of Fear.

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