## Wednesday, March 12, 2008

### PC witch hunts: Geraldine Ferraro

Geraldine Ferraro, the 1984 Democratic vice-presidential candidate, was asked why the support for Obama is so strong. And she said something that must be absolutely obvious to hundreds of millions of people in the world: it is partly because he is black. It's the concept that the country - and maybe the world - started to like. Barack wouldn't be where he is if he were white. It's just very fashionable to support a prospective African American president these days.

PC witch hunts began instantly. The lady is clearly a courageous character - so far I would say more so than e.g. Larry Summers.

In the interview above, she also proves that the opinion has nothing to do with her personal interests. Quite frankly, she also admits that she wouldn't have appeared on the 1984 Democratic ticket if she were a man with the same record. In 1984, it was already a "hot trend" to promote women in politics and elsewhere. She could probably do the job well but she realizes that her nomination was partially due to positive discrimination.

Women in politics are rare but they are no longer viewed as a sensation. Times are changing pretty fast. I remember that in 2001, we would talk about these - and many other things - with Jochen Brocks. He was enthusiastic about Hillary Clinton, claiming that she was the real "brain" behind the presidency of Bill Clinton. I was a bit skeptical but I always respected this presidential pair, to a large extent.

The situation has changed. A woman in the White House is not "quite" such a historical event anymore. And millions of people want something really "cool" or "nice" which is why Obama enjoys a much stronger support from the media and many other relevant entities than Hillary does. Meanwhile, Hillary has become a conventional candidate protecting America as we have known it for a century or two, a candidate imagining politics as a competition between ideas, programs, and interests. It seems that much of the U.S. nation wants something entirely different: a fuzzy post-democracy controlled by the P.C. police.

In some sense, Geraldine Ferraro is saying, in a much more careful, peaceful, and cautious way, the same thing as Ann Coulter: the liberals are thrilled that they could find a black man who can walk and talk so they want to put something that they secretly consider an amazing anomaly in the White House. There's a lot of provoking exaggeration in Coulter's words but she is essentially right.

I have nothing much against Obama but his career is a huge bubble of hot air driven largely by his colorful ethnic origin. He is also viewed as a candidate of reconciliation - but it is only because there are thousands of journalists and other semi-influential pundits and officials at various places who treat him as a pet and who instantly attack all of his critics.

In such circumstances, it is pretty easy to behave peacefully but I am not sure whether it is exactly a good recipe to preserve democracy and freedom in America or whether it is a strategy to produce another Zimbabwe, after a few years. The hysterical attacks against men and women such as Geraldine Ferraro - who is a Democrat and a traditional darling of the "progressive" ideals herself - don't look terribly promising for America.

It is great that Ferraro doesn't allow those activists to intimidate her but people like that are in a somewhat difficult situation. Naturally, the conservatives should be those who should be defending people against unjust "progressive" attacks. However, most of the conservatives don't seem too eager to defend a Democrat and some of them have become "progressives" themselves.

Incidentally, the weird Harvard professor who wrote the New York Times op-ed about the skin color and hair color of actors in the Clinton 3 a.m. commercial - the op-ed that Ferraro referred to - is Orlando Patterson. The op-ed is absolutely crazy. It creates a hypothesis that some kids in the dark in the ad could actually have been Hispanic and if it is true, then it proves that the Clinton campaign is racist.

These "sub-conscious" games with symbols are absolutely amazing and resemble the old-fashioned witch hunts many centuries ago. When I am saying that Obama is where he is mostly because of his skin color, it is not a speculation based on homeopathy of invisible sub-conscious symbols interpreted in a surreal and convoluted way. It is a direct reflection of facts - thousands or millions of people who explicitly say that they would vote for Obama because it is a historical decision to be voting for a black guy.

I am - and Geraldine Ferraro is - just saying the very same thing that they are saying, with the appropriate grammar modifications needed to talk about a third person. But suddenly, the very same indisputable fact becomes controversial when someone else says it. How is it possible? Is the truth so relative that it must be celebrated when one person says it - that it is great to send a message by choosing a non-white president - while others must be burned at stake when they say the very same thing with a lower degree of excitement?

I can give you piles of examples. For example, Gary Kamiya at salon.com (or most of LiveWire) wrote explicitly that he is voting Obama because he is black and if he were not black, Kamiya would vote for Hillary. Don't try to waste my time by asking me for thousands of other explicit examples like that but be sure you could have them. A bulk of Obama's base is similar.

1. Ms. Ferraro,

I am terribly disappointed. Your recent suggestion that Mr. Obamas’ success happened only because he is black is especially painful. To think that being black in America is a lucky thing strikes me as being inconsiderate.

I am a black person born the same year as Mr. Obamas’ wife 1964, and I can tell you there was no time in my life being black a lucky thing, or are you unaware of the sad and continuing legacy of American race relations. You disregard Mr. Obamas’ legitimate and laudable accomplishments by attributing them to one thing, and it’s the one thing Mr. Obama tries least to be – a man of race. Mr. Obama is a child of God, a husband, a father, a university graduate and a lawyer. Mr. Obama has been a stellar state representative of Illinois and he is currently a United States Senator, and great American. Somewhere probably in the high teens of the list of things Mr. Obama is would be black man.

The statements you have made and defend amount to making his race his primary attribute. You are playing the race card in a manner that is insulting, and quite frankly would be more expected from the kind of reactionary people America has hopefully outgrown.

In 1984 I was a student at the University of Southern California an institution with a traditionally conservative bent. I remember campaigning for and ardently defending a certain congressperson from New York as being more than just a woman, but a person regardless of gender worthy to potentially lead this country. I’m sorry to know now that I was wrong, and all the time any Gerard really would have sufficed.

thanks for your comment even though I am not Geraldine Ferraro. But if she were only getting polite comments like yours, she would be doing fine.

There are about 200+ million children of God, 100+ million fathers, 100+ million husbands in America, tens of millions of graduates and almost million of lawyers. So these things probably don't fully explain his success. ;-)

It was great you campaigned in 1984 even though it was against Ronald Reagan which is not the best person to be opposed. ;-) And again, your particular motivations could have been diverse and different from others.

But the fact that the presidential nominee chose her wasn't a coincidence either, as she clearly realizes today. It is conceivable that in 2032, Barack Obama will also be completely free to admit and explain the whole history without biases and taboos and he will acknowledge that he became a nominee in 2008 mostly because he was black and it was a very fashionable concept.

But in 2032, the progressive fads may already be more advanced than they are today. No women or blacks will be "in". A conventional black candidate in 2032 might have a lot of problems with a Siamese two-headed Martian candidate who will become really fashionable in the early 2030s. ;-)

So if you learn something from the history, you should already prepare Barack Obama that he will face serious problems and attacks in 2032 because I think that Obama is, in his very essence, a comparably realistic politician as Geraldine Ferraro.

Best
Lubos

3. Lubos,

Reading the fast comments, I notice a lot of people reference affirmative action (AA). I think that what AA has done to minorities, and especially blacks, is really unfair. A few years ago (while living in Decatur, GA), my wife needed a very special operation. The doctor who was to do it (at the Dekalb medical center) was one Dr Kevin Belcher (poor kid, growing up with that name!). When we went in to meet him, I saw that he was black (not an uncommon occurance in Georgia!), and my first (involuntary) reaction was to wonder how qualified he was. I was really irritated at myself for this reaction, although I have found that it is quite common, even among blacks.

I realized that the only thing to do was the same thing as I always do with other doctors -- normal due diligence: (Talk to the guy, see how he answers questions, shares information, look for red flags, etc. -- too involved to fully explain here.)

After 45 min with Dr. Belcher, I was convinced that there wasn't anyone else in the world I would rather have do my wife's operation: He had helped develop the operation, had done perhaps 40% of the ones so far done anywhere, was a real geek (good in a surgeon) -- only wanted to talk/explain about the operation, volunteered lots of information (like: How the operation could go wrong, how he would know what was happening and get things back on track, etc., etc., etc.)

So, Dr. Belcher did the operation and it was a complete success. I was really irritated at my initial questioning of his ability, and especially that this had to be a common reaction to a person who was probably 1st in the world in his speciality.

I hope to see the day when this kind of reaction is forgotten in the past, but I don't expect to see that as long as "Progressives" keep trying to fan the flames of separatism and victimization.