Sun 1 Feb, 2009
Tags: Barack Obama, Presidential election, Racism
Conservative commentator Armstrong Williams has a perplexing column in tomorrow’s Washington Times in which he claims that with the election of Barack Obama, “all the ‘-isms’ that were born from racism, reparations, and white guilt are now dead and buried.”
This is an argument which, as regular readers of this blog are aware, has been presented frequently since the election of the nation’s first black president back in November.
However much Obama’s election marks a genuine milestone in American race relations, this is also an argument which would seem to fly in the face of an overwhelming mountain of evidence that racial prejudice lingers in our society today. By explicitly invoking reparations, moreover, Williams takes on the added burden of arguing that the economic legacy of slavery and racial discrimation has been overcome or somehow rendered irrelevant, despite the seemingly indisputable existence of that legacy.
Williams, interestingly, makes no effort to explain or justify his claim, devoting the rest of his column to a call for all Americans, regardless of race, to embrace hard work, education, lawful behavior, and a mishmash of conservative political and social values. (The latter includes, for instance, a call for men, and only men, “to get an education and do what they can to make this country and the world even better”; the corresponding call for women, and only women, is to avoid engaging in sex outside of marriage.)
The Washington Times, however, has no illusions about what is notable in the column, headlining it (at least online), “The final chapter to racial politics and racism: Obama’s election closes the book on all the ‘-isms’.”
Since I can’t quote any argument from Williams about this belief, here he is in his own words, elaborating on the consequences of Obama’s ascendance to the highest office in the land:
No longer can liberal, race-based organizations and the race hustlers blame white men and a racist government going forward for their plight and lack of economic opportunities in America. … [T]he boogeyman exists no longer, and you must now rise and fall on your own merit, choices made, work ethics, discipline, sacrifices and thrift in this land of opportunity.