Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Oppression impressions

By Carl

I'd like to expand on my thoughts regarding Obama's speech yesterday, and why I think there's an enormous gap in his thinking.

If Obama had spoken truthfully, and he touched upon this in his speech, he would have said the following:

I repudiate and denounce Rev. Wright's specific comments, and make no apologies or defense for them. Further, I apologize to Senator Clinton, because his comments make it sound as though she has never been discriminated against. They were wrong-headed and stupid.

However, some of the issues he raises, about inequality, are issues we Democrats have been trying to address for decades. We've been trying to level the playing field, to make opportunity possible for all, regardless of race, religion, gender, or orientation. That the issues coalesce around race is a function of the simple ability to identify a black man or woman by sight.

And gone on from there. There's a speech that truly speaks to unity, to making people understand that it's not about black or white, female or male, poor or rich.

It's about equality. Fairness. Justice.

Go read his speech. Not once, NOT ONCE, does he mention being a woman in America, or being gay, or being anything else but African American (he does have one instance of talking about the working classes, in passing).

Rev. Wright's hideous comments deserved to be repudiated, and then expanded upon to mine the kernel of truth within. People are hurting in George Bush's America. People are hurting a LOT more in George Bush's America than they were in Bill Clinton's America, despite Obama's attempts to rewrite history to suit his purposes.

If your campaign is based solely on words, and those words themselves are found lacking and half-hearted, then what's to be made of your candidacy and your heart?

Imagine John Edwards making this same speech. He would not have limited himself to describing the "black experience" but would have correctly pointed out that this describes Two Americas. It was the one big reason I voted for Edwards in 2004 and the one big reason he remained in my considerations going into the primary season this year.

He gets it. I see this all around me. America is supposed to be about opportunity, but America is slipping away from those who have had a hard time keeping up.

Indeed, I'd make the case that America is turning its back on those who can't keep up.

It's not about minorities, because in truth, any equality program would begin with the majority who suffer degradations in this society: women.

African Americans make up, what? Less than a quarter of America's population?

Women make up 51%, and you can look that up. By addressing only the "black experience," Obama foolishly leaves out an entire group of Americans that can speak bigger volumes about repression, degradations, discrimination, even physical and mental abuse.

It's about levelling the playing field. Again, Bill Clinton's legacy. Instead of spending so much time defending the indefensible, he could have easily done 26 minutes on how the poor and working class see their jobs lost, with no hope of a better future even for their children through education and training.

How in this country, the quiet shame is that the largest group of poverty stricken Americans is not blacks or whites, but single mothers. Women. How economic "opportunity" for them usually means choosing between losing a job or taking care of a sick child.

He squandered a golden moment in American history to speak about how race is no longer codified in law, but in money, and how to break those chains requires an intensive effort to move the country forward in economics, not in some ethereal dialogue regarding "scary black men," as one commenter at my blog put it.

But what really got my knickers in a twist was how he so off-handedly claimed the mantle of repression as the "black experience" when in truth, women have had it far worse, for far longer, and have only recently made up some of the grounds that African Americans have taken from American white male hegemony.

How many women can sit alone in a bar reading a book and not worry about how many eyes are mentally undressing her? Or walk down a street, for that matter?

How many women can run for President without being called a "bitch" or "Hitlery" or "cunt"? How many women can attain an executive office in a corporation without having smears of "sleeping her way up" being launched?

Why does a woman have to act "like a man" to be taken seriously?

Hell, we even joke about how long it takes for a woman to pee in a public place, which by all rights should be an insult to anyone! If blacks had to queue up for the few toilets while whites had a few dozen, there'd be marching in the street.

Even Obama himself, blinded by the log in his eye even as he speaks about the mote in mine, has poopooed and denigrated Hillary Clinton, speaking of her "periodic outbursts," with little note in the popular press.

Why is that, do you think, that he's allowed to remind people that she has a menstruating vagina with all its entanglements like PMS with that kind of code, when if someone mentions, say, his "articulation" like Joe Biden did, the world goes crazy with charges of racism? Or why is it that Obama's minions go nuts if Bill Clinton calls him on his "fairy tale," assuming the Big Dog meant his candidacy, when he was very clear he was talking about the fallacy of his war opposition?

And the Obombers aren't bothered one bit by this hypocrisy on the part of their candidate?

They aren't bothered by the fact that Geraldine Ferraro said effectively the same thing that Rev. Wright did, that there's a "black experience" in America that differs from the white experience, and they screamed bloody murder, while shooing away any criticism of Wright as being "irrelevant"?

Why do they give Obama a pass to be a white man in black skin on this stuff?

(Cross-posted to
Simply Left Behind.)

Labels: , , , ,

Bookmark and Share


  • But, Carl, he was was giving a speech on race and politics, not gender in politics, not sexual orientation and politics. Just because he focused on race doesn't mean he denies that woman have experienced similar oppression. How was this being insensitive to Clinton, or to women in general? Should he have broadened his message to include all oppressed groups? -- women, gays, Native Americans, etc. I'm sure that wouldn't have impressed you either, and, besides, it would have been far too wide-ranging. What's more, I think his speech can be applied to the experiences of other oppressed groups. Obama would hardly deny this. The Ashley story he told at the end is about race, but is it not also about gender and age and, more broadly, culture?

    I find it hard to believe that anyone could have come away from such an intelligent and inspiring speech -- one that was sorely needed in America -- without at least some respect for Obama. It was incredibly courageous of him to take up this issue, one that most Americans simply ignore, or would rather not think about, lest it raise some uncomfortable truths about the past and present, during an election campaign. Yes, he was forced to do so, as I mentioned in my reflections on the speech, but great leaders take full advantage of the opportunities presented to them. Obama did that. This is what sets him so far apart from pretty much ever other politician today, including Clinton. Bill pulled off a similar feat in '92, speaking in Michigan during the primaries, but this was on an even grander scale.

    By Blogger Michael J.W. Stickings, at 12:56 PM  

  • i am currently taking a deep breath. as a woman, i am finding it difficult to understand why, hillary clinton supporters in particular, folks are ganging up on mr. wright's words. what he said was true. he is being condemned for speaking the truth- out of frustration. i have not heard one word about the out-in-the-open racist comments from the right wing pundits. not only that- but this issue is about race. clinton's camp got the ball of wax started when they whispered muslim instead of black. when that didn't work- they used race overtly. forgive me if i am wrong- but obama has not once mentioned clinton's gender in this contest.

    is there genuine misogyny out there? absolutely. but it is camp clinton's responsibility to bring that out into the light. if she feels slighted by the press- she needs to speak to that. so far, it seems it's clinton's bloggers that feel that there is all of this misogyny out there- mostly on the blogs. it seems whenever anyone criticizes camp clinton on anything, her bloggers kick into the misogyny routine.

    again, i am not saying it doesn't exist- but i don't think it is barack obama's problem. he can't speak to misogyny the way he can to race- so again, if clinton has an issue- she should put her big girl panties on and deal with it herself. can't have it both ways.

    By Blogger billie, at 2:03 PM  

  • Wow, you actually got into the 'which is worse: racism or sexism' debate. That's an incredibly silly fight to have and it's demeaning to say that any particular oppressed group had it 'better.'

    And you're apparently not familiar with context. Obama was responding to the controversy about Wright and speaking from his own personal experiences. You wanted him to expand to include more marginalized groups. Okay, that's a fair desire. Then you had to ruin it by berating the man for not realizing the 'obvious' truth that women have it worse than African Americans.

    That may or may not be true but you do yourself a disservice when you act like he committed some heinous crime when he focuses on only one of the problems in America. Should we then heckle you for not speaking about the discrimination against transsexuals, Latinos, or Asians? Because I can't help but notice that you didn't talk about those groups. That was sarcasm by the way.

    You wanted to talk about the oppression of women. That's fine. I don't attribute any evil motivations to you that you seem content to sling at Obama.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 7:57 PM  

  • Carl, there is little I could add to the above comments except to say your arguments against Obama are irrational, biased, and growing more tedious with passing day. Next time, I will simply skip over your posts ... I have no more time or patience for this stuff.

    By Blogger Swampcracker, at 11:41 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home