Cheat-Seeking Missles

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Is Obama Ready For A Dialog On Race?

The wonders of the Internet! It lets me go to memeorandum to see a compilation of news from around the world and bloggers' comments on it, and launching from there, I go from my breakfast nook in South Orange County to Pittsburgh and the student newspaper from Carnegie Mellon U., a paper I would never have read were it not for the Internet.

And there, in coverage of an off-off-mainline political event featuring Michelle Obama and a smallish crowd of supporters, I find that the Obamas are not ready for a truthful dialog on race in this country, no matter what Barack Obama said in his flag-saturated speech on race. Truth, it seems, is no where to be found.
While the crowd was indeed diverse, some students at the event questioned the practices of Mrs. Obama’s event coordinators, who handpicked the crowd sitting behind Mrs. Obama. The Tartan’s correspondents observed one event coordinator say to another, “Get me more white people, we need more white people.” To an Asian girl sitting in the back row, one coordinator said, “We’re moving you, sorry. It’s going to look so pretty, though.”

“I didn’t know they would say, ‘We need a white person here,’ ” said attendee and senior psychology major Shayna Watson, who sat in the crowd behind Mrs. Obama. “I understood they would want a show of diversity, but to pick up people and to reseat them, I didn’t know it would be so outright.”
Of course, this is standard political showmanship, the carefully constructed crowd. No one ugly in the front row. And not too many blacks in front -- they might scare away white voters. (Unless it's a white candidate, then it's not too many whites in front.)

If Obama were indeed a change-engine instead of just an ultra-liberal hack in change clothing, he would let the people who cared the most be the people framing the shot. Instead, each stop is carefully orchestrated to create a sense of comfort, trust and normalcy, while in fact it is staged, false and contrived.

So this is our great new dialog on race made possible by Obama? I thought so. It's the kind of dialog unsubstantial candidates really like: One between carefully selected, like-minded people.

Those of us who think differently -- who think race is not of great consequence, who think huge government solves nothing, who know we'll never tax our way to paradise -- well, we'll fare worse than the Asian gal above. We won't just be moved from the back row; we won't be let into the room.

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