Barack Obama Should Denounce Affirmative Action and Race-Based Politics

Does Obama Have an Asian Problem? – TIME

In California, where Asian-Americans make up 8% of the electorate, a CNN exit poll found they voted three to one in her favor. In New York, the Asian American Legal Defense Fund’s exit poll concluded that 87% of Asian-American Democrats backed their state’s Senator. In New Jersey, it was 73%. From no other group did Clinton command that kind of loyalty; she won 69% of Latino voters in California, for example, compared to 75% of Asians. Publications including some local editions of ethnic newspapers like Sing Tao have endorsed her, as have prominent politicians including former Gov. Gary Locke of Washington and Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii.

In 2 Battlegrounds, Voters Say, Not Yet – New York Times

Clinton advisers said her decisive victory in Ohio and her narrow one in Texas — where exit polls showed her winning the votes of women, whites and Hispanics in an extremely close race — were more than enough to argue that she should go forward to the April 22 primary in the Ohio-esque Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, even if Mr. Obama has more delegates after Tuesday night.

The identity politics in the Democratic primaries certainly is strange. The mixed-race descendent of slaveholder who spent some of his childhood in Asia somehow is being positioned as the African-American candidate, and thus is gaining very strong levels of support from that racial group. Yet Obama’s hold is strong only in that third largest group, with whites, hispanics, and asians largely skeptical from the Illinois Senator. Why?

It seems reasonable that Affirmative Action and other race-based programs may be at fault. The only racial group that Obama consistently wins has done very well through rentier politics, redirecting public and private goods to themselves through a deft combination of institutional organization, turn-out, and violence. The groups that Obama has trouble with (whites) or typically loses (hispanics and asians) either presently suffer greatly, presently suffer significantly, or will soon suffer from Affirmative Action and its concept of privileged blood.

While denouncing Affirmative Action certainly would hurt him among his only racial consistency, it probably would be a none-issue among his other supporters (high-income whites and the young), while doing much to reconcile him to electoral blocs that fear ancestry-based confiscatory government policies. Even better, denouncing affirmative action would go a long way to ending racism in the country.

I like Barack Obama, but on policy he is either weaker than John McCain (the Surge, free trade), Hillary Clinton (Health Care), or both the war). Denouncing Affirmative Action would not only be the right thing for Barack Obama to do morally and politically — it also would make him the best candidate on an actual issue.

38 thoughts on “Barack Obama Should Denounce Affirmative Action and Race-Based Politics”

  1. I’m no supporter of Affirmative Action, but I’m skeptical that this has to do with his lack of support in the Asian American block. Doesn’t Hillary support Affirmative Action? Obama is weaker on Health Care and Iraq than Hillary is? Maybe the Dems. would agree that he’s weaker on Health Care, but he loves reminding us that he’s the more-anti-war candidate.

  2. There is no way he will do this.

    He would drive a stake through the heart of his two strongest sources of support: African Americans and wealthy liberal white people.

    Obama has shown us three policy positions: 1. He is hostile to trade (tear up NAFTA)
    2. He has committed to a one-year time-table to withdraw completely from Iraq
    3. He wants massive tax and spending increases

    He is McGovern on 2 and 3. He is Senators Smoot and Hawley on 1.

    You get the worst of the ’70s and the early ’30s in one soothing package.

    There is nothing to like about this guy.

    I don’t have a TV. That helps. I never hear him speak, I just read the text. The text is usually a nullity on substance, but at the heart of the fog is a bucket of pure poison.

    McCain ’08, baby. Hoping.

  3. Some notes on Affirmative Action, as it actually exists: [1]

    “Over the years, affirmative action stirred competition between blacks and browns as they often competed for the same slots. Alfredo Blanco, 56, is a machinist with the Teamsters union in Houston, and an adamant Clinton supporter. His union leadership supports Sen. Obama, but he doesn’t. When it comes to government jobs, he complains, “Blacks get into places we’re not allowed to get in.”

    But for many Latinos and blacks, political anger against Republicans trumps any lingering racial resentment, especially in the wake of redistricting in the state.

    “We witnessed the re-segregation of Texas. It was raw and it was brutal,” recalls Ron Kirk, the former mayor of Dallas and 2002 Democratic candidate for Senate. Mr. Kirk, an African-American, ran with Hispanic banker Tony Sanchez of Laredo, the party’s candidate for governor. Both Democrats lost in 2002, a year when Republicans made gains across the country in the run-up to the Iraq war. However, both candidates showed they could draw sweeping majorities from each other’s core constituencies. Almost 820,000 Latinos cast votes in Texas that year, with nearly 80% supporting Ron Kirk. On the black side, nearly 90% of African-American voters cast their ballots for Mr. Sanchez.”

    [1] http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120451476846207025.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

  4. Dan,

    For some reason I’m on the 80-20 Initiative’s email distro list (maybe because I’m a science graduate of the Univ. of Calif.? :-), so I’ve seen the vitriol Mr. Woo has directed at Sen. Obama.

    But since the Senator belatedly affirmed the 80-20 PAC’s goals [1], they have cozied up to him a bit more (hence their demand for the CNN “retraction and correction” when the network implied that Asian-Americans were anti-Obama).

    [1] http://www.80-20initiative.net/news/preselect2008_obama.asp

  5. Dan Tdaxp, I like your new blog. It is much nicer and more streamlined than your last one.

    This is an interesting post. I enjoyed reading it. However, I disagree with its premise that “denouncing affirmative action would go a long way to ending racism in the country.”

    On the contrary, if Obama denounced the idea of the “white race”–a historically constructed social category–and the individuals who partake in the privileges of whiteness, he would go a long way to ending racism in the United States.[1] But, to demand that Obama to denounce the “white race” is to ask too much. Instead, we must demand that he asks every “white person” he meets to commit treason against the “white race” by refusing to partake in the privileges that the color of their skin grants them. If he does this, he will go a long way to ending racism in the United States.

    [1] http://racetraitor.org/abolish.html

  6. Politically viable only after he defeats Hillary.

    A good idea though. Class is where its at right now, not race. The sooner we level that playing field we’ll make far more progress than we have with affirmative action.

  7. Eddie,

    My post argues that it’s politically viable now, because Obama’s weakest among those groups that fear the current AA structure the most, while the one group that unambiguously benefits from already supports him. To put it another way, Obama’s going to have the pledged delegate lead no matter what: denouncing AA gives him a chance to win some Clinton states, as well.

    Ortho Stice,

    Thanks for the kind words on the blog! And also for your post [1]!

    Not sure what you mean by “historically constructed social category” — could you clarify?

    Certainly your plan is an interesting way for Clinton to take the nomination!

    Deichmans,

    Thanks for the link. My view of race-identity groups is pretty dim, so I’m quite sure that they can be bought and sold. I think widespread asian suspicion of Obama is a bit deeper than that, however.

    [1] http://baudrillardsbastard.blogspot.com/2008/03/bush-dancing-and-political-demands.html

  8. “Instead, we must demand that he asks every “white person” he meets to commit treason against the “white race” by refusing to partake in the privileges that the color of their skin grants them.”

    Ever since I found out that I was “privileged” for being a descendant of Europeans, I’ve been searching drastically to find out where I can sign up for these “privileges?” Where is the application to cash in on these privileges? Maybe someone here can give my a link?

    There are two privileged groups in America. The first is the socioeconomic elite. George Bush would never have went to Yale, ran an oil company, become a governor, or been President if not for his family’s social position. The other privileged group are racial minorities. If there was ever a case of “institutionalized racism,” we find it here. There are actual laws put into place that gives these people real privileges. Because these people are of the “proper” geo-genetic cluster (GGC), they’re entitled to enter college despite having lower grades and SAT scores than the people with the “wrong” geo-genetic cluster (GGC). Many times these GGC’s have their educations paid for as well. Even more disturbing, after they graduate from college, private entities are forced to hire a certain number of these GGC’s even if these people are less qualified than those with the wrong GGC. Failure to do so can result in a shakedown by people who specialize in this trade(These specialist usually moonlight as clergy as well).

    People with the wrong GGC have to compete with people within their own GGC, people who are qualified within the right GGC’s, and people who are unqualified within the right GGC’s.

    The least privileged of all are poor rural European Americans. These people don’t have the advantages of agglomeration that urban areas bring which makes it much more difficult to find a job compared to people from urban areas. Most of the time, they don’t have public transportation when they can’t afford a car. But most important, they don’t have special programs to help them because they lack the proper GGC. American society is encouraged to insult this group with terms such as trailer trash, white trash, or rednecks. Somehow the women who lives in a trailer who has 3 kids is “privileged” but the Obama’s are not?

    The biggest privilege that racial minorities enjoy relates to explanations for failure or bad behavior. If the right GGC gets mad about something, they have the right to tear the city apart and pull people of the wrong GGC out of their cars and beat them. Then, some lady on NPR will say these people are “oppressed” so they’re excused for this.

    If ever one wants to point out “White Supremacy” it is here. Every now and then, a Bobcat will come out of the Rocky mountains and attack some little kid in some subdivision. The same NPR reporter will then point out how its societies’ fault for destroying the cats habitat. Society has “oppressed” the bobcat. The same argument is made when the people of the right GGC pull people from the wrong GGC out of their cars for a beating. Without knowing it, the NPR reporter is showing us that he/she thinks that the people of the right GGC are nothing more than animals who can’t control their behavior, just like the bobcat. This is the ultimate form of white supremacy.

  9. Seerov – I only live on the borders of the South, and I’d say its pretty clear I’m privileged as a white person. I’d love for someone to do a scientific survey of the disparity in sentencing the local traffic court judge gives to people who look like me and the Hispanic and black people in line before me. (Hey, I’m a bad driver, I pay for it)

    But of more immediate importance, I noticed that I no longer get e-mailed when some comments after me on a tdaxp post in the new incarnation 🙁

  10. “its pretty clear I’m privileged as a white person.” (-Adam)

    Again, all I’m asking is for someone to tell me where I can find these privileges? Do I need to learn a secret handshake or password or something?

    Until I’m accepted into this secret order of the eternal brotherhood of white privilege, can you at least tell me how we can measure these privileges? What does it look like?

    How is the Obama family less privileged than the white lady who lives in a trailer with 3 kids in rural West Virgina?

  11. Ignoring Seerov’s ignorance for a bit, Dan I am interested in your take on McCain’s refusal to denounce Hagee and his ilk in the same way that he did back in 2000. Does it impact your support at all?

  12. Seerov,

    I assume other commentators are using “privilege” to mean “group with a mean in socially desirable categories over the mean for the population as a whole.”

    Adam,

    Thanks for notifying me that the new blog doesn’t email-out updates to threads. I’ll take a look at that.

    Adrian,

    I was uncomfortable with McCain’s attacks on Pat Robertson et al. in 2000, and am happier he is calmer this cycle. I don’t see what is gained by attack others for their theological beliefs, but clearly much is lost.

  13. “Ignoring Seerov’s ignorance for a bit”
    (-Adrian)

    OK, fair enough, I’m “ignorant.” So since you’re a person of superior intellect, and one who is fully committed to the doctrine of “white privilege,” can you please try to explain this concept to me?

    How am I, as an American with European Geo-Genetic Cluster (GGC) origins, “privileged” compared to people who do not share this GGC??

    Now go slow, because as you pointed out, I’m “ignorant”……Very-very “ignorant.”

    My positions on this subject can be found in the above posts. Feel free to critique these posts while you enlighten me on your orthodoxy.

  14. Seerov,

    “How am I, as an American with European Geo-Genetic Cluster (GGC) origins, “privileged” compared to people who do not share this GGC??”

    If you were convinced that your heritage (let’s say, biological and cultural) correlates with high general intelligence, would you grant this as privilege?

    To the Anti-Seerovs,

    Would you?

  15. Dan,

    People who abide by the anti-Seerov doctrine don’t base their theories on facts. Just like Rev. Hagee, this belief is based on faith.

    If I were to ask Rev. Hagee how it is possible for the universe to be only 6 thousand years old, he would tell me that the bible says so. Its the same thing with the anti-Seerovs. The only difference is what they consider to be their authority.

    For Hagee, the authority is the Bible or the church. For the anti-Seerovs, the authority comes from various social science professors or so called “civil rights” activists. They both follow blindly but most importantly, they both consider people who don’t follow this faith to be heretics.

    To Hagee, we’re all born sinners who can only find salvation through the doctrine of Jesus Christ. For the anti-Seerovs, we’re all born racists who can only find salvation through the doctrine of Political Correctness. Four hundred years ago the anti-Seerovs would be the people in the town square screaming “burn the witch.” Today, these are the people screaming for the careers or reputations of those who practice dissent from the Political Correctness doctrine.

  16. Steve French,

    The Baltimore Sun [1]. It’s not relevant to the question of whether he should be President, of course. But this embrace of identity politics and politically correct ancestry is strange…

    Who would have thought a mixed-race son of an immigrant and white does well? Well, anyone. Along with Indian-Americans, that’s a generally over-represented cohort. But I don’t see anything about “mixed-race privilege,” or how much Senator Obama should be paying in reparations.

    Seerov,

    I posted about the Standard Social Science Model and its critics before [2].

    [1] http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/nationworld/politics/bal-te.obama02mar02,0,3453027.story
    [2] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2007/07/15/evolutionary-psychology-and-behavioral-genetics.html

  17. the black value system is just a system promoting self help among blacks. theyve had a rough time in this country and the system just encourages them to better themselves. if whites had been oppressed for hundreds of years, theyd have a white value system and no one would complain. except maybe those who are ignorant on race issues in the usa.

  18. Ortho,

    Your comments would be more useful to me, if they weren’t rhetorically clever but substantially ambiguous (as of now) or personal attacks (as yours commonly are).

  19. Dear Dan,

    I did not realize that recommending a text [1] that will improve how an individual understands the history of the Second KKK [2] and/or his attempts to use that history in an analogical argument [3], could be construed as “substantially ambiguous … or [a] personal attack …” [4].

    When you read Moore you shall learn that emergence of the Second Klan in Indiana had little to do with “uneducated whites.” Instead, middle-class white Protestants led the Klan’s resurgence. They directed their anger towards elites, and ethnic, racial, and religious minorities. Their bread-and-butter issues were drunkenness, prostitution, political corruption, schools, and “traditional” family values. The Klan drew support not just from “uneducated whites,” but from a large segment of the white middle class. Nancy K. MacLean, in Behind the Mask of Chivalry: The Making of the Second Ku Klux Klan, finds a similar middle-class support base for the Klan in 1920s Georgia [see footnote 2].

    [1] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2008/03/05/barack-obama-should-denounced-affirmative-action-and-race-based-politics.html#comment-59369
    [2] http://www.amazon.com/Behind-Mask-Chivalry-Making-Second/dp/0195098366
    [3] See comment 23 above.
    [4] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2008/03/05/barack-obama-should-denounced-affirmative-action-and-race-based-politics.html#comment-59433

  20. Ortho,

    Thank you for being less ambiguous in your follow-up comment.

    Of course, your above comment was not a personal attack. Nor did I claim it to be.

    The analogy of the Black Values System to the Second Klan holds. in both cases, a politico-religious movement of newly enriched members of a traditionally marginalized class expounds a list of socially progressive and racist ideals.

  21. Again during the last debate he edged towards rebuking affirmative action in its present form, noting how his daughters are privileged and wouldn’t seem to deserve it, whereas he could think of white teens in difficult or adverse circumstances who would seem to deserve such a program.

  22. Eddie,

    The point being, of course, that Obama supports racial preferences that discriminate against latinos, whites, asians, and jews relative to blacks.

    That he combines this with sensible means-tested entitlements doesn’t make his support any less politically foolish, societally dangerous, or morally disgraceful.

    If “A” is bad, then it remains bad even if a good “B” exists alongside it.

  23. Dan, the analogy remains weak [1].

    a) It is constructed in a vacuum and pays no attention to historical context.
    b) It telescopes over a half-century’s worth of U.S. history.

    The French poet, René Char [2], once wrote, “Eliminating distance kills” [3] In the case of your analogy, eliminating historical context and difference kills.

    [1] See comment 23 above.
    [2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ren%C3%A9_Char
    [3] As quoted by Paul Virilio, Open Sky (London: Verso, 2008), 22.

  24. Ortho,

    Thank you for your comment.

    “Dan, the analogy remains weak [1].”

    Please demonstrate this.

    “a) It is constructed in a vacuum and pays no attention to historical context.”

    False.

    “b) It telescopes over a half-century’s worth of U.S. history.”

    If by this you mean it analogizes a racist-progressive movement in the present day to one a century ago, then trivially true.

    “The French poet, René Char [2], once wrote, “Eliminating distance kills” [3] ”

    Argument to authority.

    “In the case of your analogy, eliminating historical context and difference kills.”

    Undemonstrated.

  25. Dan, thank you for your response.

    Dan wrote: “Please demonstrate this.”

    I did.

    Dan claimed: “At least for uneducated whites, the WVS equivalent of Trinity UCC was the Second Klan.”

    I have provided you with sources, which demonstrate the weakness of your analogy. The analogy is based upon an ahistorical stereotype of the Second KKK. Historians who have examined membership lists of the Second Klan have demonstrated that the membership was far from uneducated. See the books I footnoted in my previous comment. You can probably find both books at Love Library.

    Dan wrote: False, in response to “It [the analogy in comment 23] is constructed in a vacuum and pays no attention to historical context.”

    Obviously, my statement is true. Your analogy is based upon a textual comparison that fails to pay attention to historical context and provides no evidence for its veracity. The evidence you attempt to provide, a Wikipedia article, does not support the analogy.

    You can strengthen your analogy by providing evidence to support it. For instance you could provide evidence of a “white value system” that members of the Second Klan produced and enacted. Or, you could contextualize your implication that the Trinity United Church of Christ is a racist organization, like the second Klan. You could do this by providing evidence that demonstrates members of Trinity United Church of Christ run white people out of their neighborhoods, burn crosses in white neighborhoods, murder white people because of their race, lynch white soldiers returning from war, murder whites who attempt to vote, assassinate political enemies, and control educational and employment opportunities for whites. Again, this evidence will provide context for your analogy and improve your understanding of the Second Klan and Trinity United Church of Christ. Until you provide the suggested context and evidence your analogy shall remain weak and continue to fruitlessly compare “apples to oranges.”

    Your current analogy is based upon a common rhetorical strategy of tdaxp.com: one which rips words out of context in an attempt to discredit individuals or organizations that the author is ideologically opposed to [1].

    Dan wrote: Argument to authority.

    No, argument through metaphor.

    Dan wrote: Undemonstrated.

    Demonstrated.

    [1] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2008/03/30/white-folks-greed-runs-a-world-in-need.html

  26. Seerov,

    I found your comments interesting, and for the most part, I agree with you. And it is interesting how for many, if you dare violate the “political correctness” orthodoxy then you are obviously ignorant, out of step, and no doubt a racist.

    I have had the privilege to have many minority, and foreign, friends, and as a manager and executive, over the years I have also hired, fired, and promoted many of the same. And, let me tell you that if you are a well educated minority with a first class mind, the world is yours. Virtually every company is looking for you and has a place for you. And I might add, in most of these companies, when a job or promotion is available and there is a tie between a minority, especially a black minority, and a white, the black minority almost without fail wins. And the shame is, that when a black person succeeds on their own merit they are often tagged with the AA label.

    The real problem in the black community is not that there are not enough government programs and AA, but that there is a bias against education, which is often viewed as trying to be “white”. And ironically, while many blacks are hard working people, especially rural black people, many blacks in cities and the suburbs view hard work as being “taken advantage of”, and it is sometimes a problem in an educational setting. I have also at times found this attitude to be a problem in the work place with well educated blacks. I view this as a serious problem in black society and an impediment to societal progress.

    On the other hand, education and hard work seem to be almost congenital in the Asian community – Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese. Of course, there are sometime societal issues among various ethnic groups. For example, I once had a programming staff with several male Chinese programmers reporting to my female Chinese programming manager. There seemed to be an inordinate amount of visible friction and upon investigating I determined the problem to be a cultural problem with the male Chinese reporting to and taking orders from a Chinese female.

    As an aside, I spent several years in Chicago and I found prejudice to be considerably worse there than what I saw in the South and much worse than in the Southwest. In fact, I was continually surprised at the ethnic consciousness of everyone in the Midwest and Northeast as opposed to the lack of ethnic consciousness in the rest of the country.

  27. Ortho,

    Thank you for your comment.

    Again, you have not demonstrated your claim.

    I have provided you with sources, which demonstrate the weakness of your analogy. The analogy is based upon an ahistorical stereotype of the Second KKK. Historians who have examined membership lists of the Second Klan have demonstrated that the membership was far from uneducated. See the books I footnoted in my previous comment. You can probably find both books at Love Library.

    Your contention, “Historians who have examined membership lists of the Second Klan have demonstrated that the membership was far from uneducated,” is granted, as I implied above [1].

    Dan wrote: False, in response to “It [the analogy in comment 23] is constructed in a vacuum and pays no attention to historical context.”

    Obviously, my statement is true. Your analogy is based upon a textual comparison that fails to pay attention to historical context and provides no evidence for its veracity. The evidence you attempt to provide, a Wikipedia article, does not support the analogy.

    You made a very strong assertion (that it was constructed in a vacuum), and have yet to demonstrate this.

    You can strengthen your analogy by providing evidence to support it. For instance you could provide evidence of a “white value system” that members of the Second Klan produced and enacted.

    I assume you will grant that the Second Klan was a racist organization, so I will not support that claim.

    I assume you will also grant the social progressive aspect of the Second Klan, though information is available on it in any easy-to-read medium.

    Therefore, I assume you grant the existence of a “white value “system,” similar in its racist and progressive aspects to the Black Value System of TUCC.

    What, then, are you arguing?

    “Or, you could contextualize your implication that the Trinity United Church of Christ is a racist organization, like the second Klan. You could do this by providing evidence that demonstrates members of Trinity United Church of Christ run white people out of their neighborhoods, burn crosses in white neighborhoods, murder white people because of their race, lynch white soldiers returning from war, murder whites who attempt to vote, assassinate political enemies, and control educational and employment opportunities for whites”

    As many klaverns of the Second Klan were non-violent, there is no need to do this. Contextualization should make an analogy stronger, not weaker.

    Now, if you’re argument is that TUCC cooperates and cross-promotes with racist-progressive organizations that do use violence, or espouses paranoid or violent theories about the identity, purpose,nature of federal policies, those are much easier to demonstrate.

    [1] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2008/03/05/barack-obama-should-denounced-affirmative-action-and-race-based-politics.html#comment-59454
    [2] http://www.reason.com/news/show/34134.html

  28. Seerov

    You are correct in assessing the two priveleged groups in the US. The missing part of your analysis is how desperately the first group fights for the priveleges of the second group.

    In the early days of AA in the late 1960s, the socioeconomic elite figured that they would give their chosen genetic beneficiary group benefits of exemption from merit based selection similar to the legacy placement slots in elite educational institutions that they and their children enjoyed.

    What has happened since then is that the intense competition for merit based admission to elite institutions has resulted in some extremely competent individuals becoming the norm for the student body of elite educational institutions. The obvious gap in abilities between students admitted on merit and legacy admissions would prove embarrassing if not for the the Affirmative Action admission students who’s primary function is to prevent the legacy students from being the dumbest people on campus.

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