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.