A few thoughts on the Tavis Smiley controversy

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I’ve seen some interesting commentary on Tavis Smiley deciding to bring back a black discussion forum on Obama’s. CPL over at Jack and Jill Politics and also Shanti over at WEE SEE YOU. Here is my take:

Given the remorseless hate, vitriolic racism and disingenuous histrionics that rain down on President Obama from the right, it is hard not to give in to the impulse to rally around the flag and reflexively defend his every action. Some on the left, especially the gay community, seem to think that projecting their hostility and frustration onto their Negro president, instead of fellow whites that have rejected every marriage referendum, will magically produce the civil rights they long for.

The same could be said of the “fauxgressives”—yawl’s word, frustrated by the health care stalemate. White fear, stoked by misinformation, is killing the progress that could be made in a progressive direction by this president. He has made some mistakes along the way. For example, he’s allowed himself to believe that he could work toward consensus with the insurance industry and bad actors on the right, but what really seems to be driving the debate about all things progressive are the ridiculous fears of some whitefolks that President Obama is somehow out to get them.

Support is collapsing for health care reform in some Democratic quarters on Capital Hill because some members of congress don’t have the intestinal fortitude to push back against the smears and are reluctant to confront the ignorance, racism and fear enveloping their constituents back home. They would rather cut and run or just plain cave in and validate the fear.

It is easy to be lulled into a sense of false security that an urbane, sophisticated, and intelligent President will come out on top no matter what happens, or that the compromises he inevitably makes will preserve the progressive change that people overwhelmingly voted for—that would be wrong. President Obama will only be as good as the pressure we apply. Holding the President accountable, as Tavis suggests, doesn’t mean that we don’t love and admire him and Michelle; it is that our love for them is not a substitute for progressive policy and will not sustain black and brown communities under siege by recession and centuries of racism and economic injustice.

While it is true that Barack Obama has done some great things, like the stimulus package, we need him to do some truly astounding things because times are so damn bad. In order for him to be the president we need him to be we can’t be afraid of criticizing him when it is warranted. Agreeing to a bailout of Wall Street with no strings attached was not the best move, lets be honest. Failing to stem the foreclosure crisis which is hitting black and brown communities particularly hard is yet another. Nobody has to like Tavis Smiley, you don’t even have to agree with him, but you should at least listen when he makes a valid point about a black agenda.

Let’s not mimic some whitefolks and project our anger and frustration over a lack of progressive progress onto those that don’t deserve it. We really ain’t mad at each other or Tavis Smiley for pointing out the lack of a black agenda. We’re mad at those on the right attempting to stymie what little progressive progress this president is willing to fight for. And, if we’re honest with ourselves, we are a little peeved with Obama for not fighting harder.

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The Endorsement Speech

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Anne Kornblut wrote an interesting piece for the Washington Post’s Trail blog. I quote some of it below, but for me, what was more illuminating was what came after it. The comment section was filled with the bitterest Hillarycrat and GOP trolls ever. These people make it seem as if Obama supporters are delusional in believing that the brotha has a shot in the General Election.

Hat Tip: By Anne Kornblut, Washington Post

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, the most successful female presidential candidate in U.S. history, officially left the race on Saturday with a forceful promise to help elect Sen. Barack Obama — and a powerful declaration that, even in defeat, a gender barrier had been crossed.

Four days after Obama secured the delegates to win the Democratic nomination, Clinton gave him her unqualified endorsement, finally putting to rest questions about whether she would help unite the party for the general election. In generous and at times soaring terms, Clinton described her cause as united with Obama’s, saying that only electing him would achieve the goals of universal health care, a strong economy and the end of the war in Iraq.

“We may have started on separate journeys, but today our paths have merged,” Clinton said. She discouraged rehashing the long and divisive Democratic primary campaign, instead asking her supporters — some of whom, still resentful, booed when she mentioned her former rival during the speech — to “take our energy, our passion, our strength and to do all we can to help elect Barack Obama the next president of the United States.”

“When you hear people saying, or think to yourself, ‘if only’ or ‘what if,’ I say — please don’t go there,” Clinton said. “Every moment wasted looking back keeps us from moving forward.”

She continued: “Life is too short, time is too precious, and the stakes are too high to dwell on what might have been. We have to work together for what still can be. And that is why I will work my heart out to make sure that Sen. Obama is our next president, and I hope and pray that all of you will join me in that effort.”

The trolls were in rare form today on this blog post:

“Sorry Mrs. Clinton, this life long democrat will vote Republican for the first time ever. After your speech today, I gave a donation to John McCain. He has my vote as well.

Obama is wrong for this country and I won’t be part of that choice. He will lose. He deserves to lose. He’s an empty suit.”

Posted by: Pansycritter | June 7, 2008 7:32 PM

“Well, there’s one thing for sure: NO MORE RACE CARDS!!!! If/when the U.S. elects a black President, then thankfully no more cries of discrimination. Nominating and/or electing a black President speaks volumes – that effectively, there is no more discrimination against blacks. Finally, an end to the whining.”

Posted by: tellthetruthnow | June 7, 2008 7:32 PM

“Hopefully, some time soon, people will recognize Obama for what he is. They’ll look back and see his trail of crooked, biggoted friends; the nuance that leaves us wondering what his hope for us is; his socialists [sic] friends.”

“His 20 year comfort in isolation with all of the above should give answer to why he is spiritually devoted to Africa? (A continent of perpetual revolution, starvation, disease, and murder.) We should see now, before it’s too late, that what he prays to be liberated from is the nation our forefathers built to provide us with the opportunities that initiative and hard work provide. Even worse is that he prays for our liberation from the fruits of our labor in order for him to provide the desires of his brethren.”

Posted by: rpatoh | June 7, 2008 7:31 PM

“I supported Hillary. There is no way in jell [sic] am going to vote for Barrack. He’s a liar and closet racist. No way!!”

Posted by: Lou | June 7, 2008 7:29 PM

What are your thoughts about the speech and these posters reactions to it?