|I'm not sure that some Black leaders understand how unhelpful they can be to Barack Obama's campaign. Or maybe they do, and they just don't care.
Perhaps Louis Farrakhan thinks that singing Obama's praises is a good thing -- for him. It gets him publicity, keeps his name in the news, and allows him to associate himself with a popular political leader. But, and this is the big "but" ... Farrakhan has GOT to know that his pronouncements of favor are the opposite of helpful for Barack, who is already fighting ignorant drifters who insist he's a Muslim even though he's a Christian (and who don't know the difference between a Muslim and a member of the Nation of Islam, anyway...) and who can't seem to grasp that he's running a campaign that is not centered on race.
Farrakhan's "endorsement" is made all the more suspect because as a rule, members of the Nation don't participate in the political process -- in other words, they don't vote ... on purpose ... so his support is meaningless to Barack as a method of getting more votes, which at the end of the day is the only thing that counts.
Given that, Farrakhan's remarks can only be interpreted as either self-serving, or spontaneously thoughtless, because they can only attract the knee-jerk, negative reaction that the media always gives to anything the Minister has to say. (sigh)
This is of a piece with members of the Black intelligentsia who for a long time derided Barack for not clinging to them, not going to them for anointment. Tavis Smiley is still nursing a grudge, because Barack was not willing to marginalize his candidacy by announcing it at last year's "State of the Black Union" conference, and because he refused to go back to Louisiana, a state he had won weeks earlier, neglecting Ohio and Texas, which he is trying to win next week, to be at the conference this year.
It's as if some Black folk insist that in order to get our support, Barack must steep himself in the kind of racial politics that would guarantee he won't succeed. But if he does that and fails, as he surely would, then what's the point. Mercifully, most African-Americans have grown beyond this over the months of Barack's campaign, realizing that he has to run for the presidency of the entire United States, without the burden of having to prove something to Black folk, and that if he truly doesn't have a racial chip on his shoulder, which anyone who has observed him can see he does not (his family's lack of a slavery narrative still bothers some Black Americans) then he should be himself, and leave the identity politics to others.
That's what he's doing, and that's why he's winning. Black people are rightly proud of Barack Obama. But at a certain point, we need to stand down and let him win, for the entire country's sake, not just our own.
Labels: 2008 election, Barack Obama, presidential candidates