Saturday, September 27, 2008

What Elephant?

You know the cliché, the one about not seeing the elephant in the room? That is the situation we’ve got with the Presidential race. Read this piece by Leonard Pitts:

Judged on the Content of His Character

Mr. Pitts makes several good points, but misses the elephant.

The “Bradley Effect” is what we now call it; the fact that racism still lies beneath the placid surface of America. It was identified when Tom Bradley drew a lot fewer votes in his California governor's race than the polls had predicted. The analyses concluded that it was because people say one thing then do another in the privacy of the voting booth. No one will tell a pollster that they will vote against someone because of their race, but they will.

The conclusion was that racism was operative and while people profess to be egalitarian they really harbor deep-rooted aversion to black candidates which they won't publicly admit. The reality, however, seems less a question of race than a more complex mixture of qualifications, political maneuvering, regional tendencies and changing positions over time. Obama won his party's primary race by a narrow margin and there were a lot of cross-over votes in open primary states coupled with a lot of Clinton aversion within his own party. Yet, the race issue is on the table.

The elephant might be ignored by most Americans, but unlike the routine analogy for the statement, the problem here is that one side of the debate doesn’t care about the elephant and the other side continually points and shouts that they are introducing the elephant to the process.

The elephant of racism is irrelevant to this election except that Sen. Obama repeatedly keeps pointing to it. It is as though he has worn an outrageously funny hat into a serious meeting and then takes umbrage when nobody points out that he has a funny hat atop his head. He accuses his opponent of probably planning to mention that he doesn’t look like all of the men on our currency, in anticipation of the event which had never occurred. He raps about, “oh and did you notice, I’m black…” as though we hadn’t noticed.

The core issue isn’t that we aren’t still, somewhere deep within out national psyche, racist. We are. The point is that if Sen. Obama’s side expects that we should ignore the elephant, not bring it up, recognize that it doesn’t make a difference, then he has to stop bleating about it. For most of us, it doesn’t make a difference. The difference comes when Pitts, Jackson, Wright, Sharpton, Farrakhan, and Obama keep bringing it up as justification for other short-comings.

There surely is an elephant in the room, but he isn’t bothering anybody and he won’t start to interfere unless someone keeps bringing him up.

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