Analysis of media issues, politics and current events.
Some of you may remember that, last year, current presidential candidate Newt Gingrich talked about how President Obama’s “Kenyan, anti-colonialism behavior” affects his “worldview” as president. There was uproar. And there should be. It’s like saying your polish background and worldview makes you a stupid choice for president because, “you know how those people are.”
And now it seems that Dr. Cornel West has also done the same about President Barack Obama. Cornell complained that “My dear brother Barack Obama has a certain fear of free black men.”
Pardon me if I’m mistaken, but for all Dr. West’s respected Harvard and Princeton background; his books, lectures and wisdom, his phrase translated to English is “Obama is an Uncle Tom.” A guy trying to fit in with white people. An idea furthered when West reported told a reporter, “Obama is ‘a white man with black skin.”
Newt’s and Dr. West’s words share the same faulty and racist premise: that your ethnic background or birthright creates fate in or somehow obligates your future actions to be in line with that ethnicity. For Gingrich, the false premise of President Obama’s “Kenyan anti-colonial” roots from his Kenyan father, must only mean he has a hatred for the American way of life. He may be an American by birth, but in reality, he’ll always be black and a different thinking person. A Kenyan thinker (really code for black) who will do Kenyan (black) things. And if that’s the case, where does Mr. Gingrich of Scottish, Switzerland and Germany heritage find his true allegiances?
Cornel West is following the same argument. But instead of saying Mr. Obama is not a real American and hates the American way of life, West uses the word, “black”in place of “American.” That to be really black, there are deeply embedded and instinctive actions you must fulfill in order to be black. Otherwise, you are denying your roots for fear of embracing the ideas of the true black men “free black men.”
Even coming from two respected professors, both ideas are as racist as they are shockingly small minded. Both treat being black as some kind of franchise. Like a McDonald’s. In order to be part of the franchise, you have to make the fries a certain way, offer the same menu, act like all the others in the franchise.
That view looks at race or ethnic background as destiny. Not heritage. As a country that is a melting point of people from different lands and backgrounds, to subscribe to the professors’ point of view is to say to people like Italians, Irish, Spanish, Germans that you cannot really be part of this country or be real American because of your backgrounds. You can never be American, you will always be a product of your past. Which, of course is stupid and flies in the face of the melting point idea of being American.