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Keyes: Obama owes success to cowardice Holder decries

According to Eric Holder (Holder: US is nation of cowards on racial matters) “in things racial we [Americans] have always been and continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards.” I find myself quite unexpectedly agreeing with him, but I couldn’t help but see the profound irony of that remark, especially coming from someone in his position. He claims the title of Attorney General of the United States by appointment from a man whose victory in the last election was mainly due to that kind of cowardice; a man whose constitutional eligibility for the office of President remains under a debilitating cloud of suspicion, because of that kind of cowardice; a man whose whole career as a left-wing activist and politician has exploited that kind of cowardice. Though Holder purports to see this cowardice in other Americans, I wonder whether he sees, or would honestly admit, how much it has influenced and determined the outlook and activities of left-wing and liberal blacks like himself and his new boss.

Because it so well served their purposes of self-advancement, the liberal black elite became adept at exploiting the fear of perceived racism so prevalent since the Civil Rights movement’s conquest of America’s conscience in the 1960s. In the process they actually strengthened and perpetuated negative stereotypes, to such a degree that black Americans fell into the trap of seeing their ethnic identity in almost entirely negative terms. Years ago, in my essay Masters of the Dream, I described the tragically self-defeating nature of the liberal black establishment’s negative pre-occupation with racism.

…the belief that the black identity has no positive content means that, in dealing with the problems of the black community, one neglects to think about policies based on the community’s internal values, institutions and resources. Instead, one assumes that the solutions must come from without. The passive victims of history become the passive beneficiaries of philanthropy, the passive clients of bureaucracy, the passive subjects of the domineering welfare state. Despite all good intentions to the contrary, this type of liberalism pushes black Americans back toward a condition of endless childhood, servitude and subjection. Liberal hope becomes liberal slavery.

In reaction against racial prejudice the black elite unwittingly embraced race and racism as the defining preoccupation of the black American identity. This leads them to be blind to the development of a distinctly positive black American identity, rooted in the assumption that personal moral and spiritual worth persist despite all the demeaning assaults predicated on racial inferiority. The history of that moral identity reveals an incessant spiritual guerrilla war against the devaluation of their humanity that centered ultimately around a simple and unyielding faith in God as the true standard of human worth, and Christ as the one whose suffering, sacrifice and resurrection validated the Godly dignity of every human being willing to put their faith in Him.

Instead of embracing this moral identity the liberal black elite aped the snobby (and often atheistic) scientific materialism that became increasingly characteristic of the American liberal establishment in the course of the twentieth century. They jumped on the bandwagon of leftist social analyses that defined groups in terms of quantifiable characteristics. Apparently they do not realize how much this implicitly validates the dehumanizing practice of classifying beings by physical characteristics, to which practice all truly racist ideologies owe their repugnant pedigree.

In the introduction to the essay quoted above I allude to the deadly effects of this surrender of moral identity.

Already, generations of black children have grown up without any sense of their true heritage. Consciously or unconsciously, their minds are influenced by those who, for whatever reason, spread the doctrine that racists ripped black Americans from our African roots, stripped us of our values and institutions, and left us with no shred of our own culture or humanity. Leaders like Louis Farrakhan, who claim to be strong enemies of racism, have taken this demeaning doctrine as a major premise of their creed. Ironically, in order to prove the worst in others, it requires that we deny the best in ourselves.

The black American liberal elites celebrate the election of Barak Obama as some kind of breakthrough for black Americans. This is the ultimate and deeply self-abasing fruit of their moral surrender. Except for the physical characteristics derived from his biological heritage, I cannot see what connection Obama has with the positive, moral identity of Black Americans. Black Americans are in fact a physically motley ethnic group. But despite physical differences, a common spirit and heart were refined, forged and tempered in the historic experiences of slavery, “Jim Crow” segregation and the stifling environment of pervasive racial prejudice. Many of the deepest emotional struggles, and the strong spiritual resources arising from the reality of that heritage take root during childhood and adolescence, formative years during which Obama was being raised in contexts devoid of the need to confront and deal with it. Though Holder laments American cowardice with respect to racial matters, Obama is the ultimate concession to that cowardice. Defined in racial terms he is a man whites need not fear- with dark skin but devoid of the spiritual tension characteristic of black Americans- W.E.B. Dubois’ “two souls in one body” that pull between resentment and affiliation: the smoldering despair that true justice will ever really be served battling with the undying faith that God’s love will ultimately and truly transform the American heart, the human heart, to be open to the race we all have in common.

I agree with Holder that we need to get beyond this cowardice. It will require that we get beyond the idea that Obama’s election is the historic breakthrough that carries America out of the shadow of racism. Maybe that’s the larger meaning of the doubt as to his identity that hangs over his claim to the Presidency. Even if he ultimately shows proof that he is a natural born citizen, as the Constitution requires, that will still not be enough to prove that he is what he and so many others falsely proclaim him to be. For in the end the burden from racism in America isn’t about physical appearances- it’s about moral and spiritual realities. It’s about trying to do what’s right regardless of racial feelings and perceptions. From this perspective, Obama’s rejection of the simple premise that all human beings are created equal (including our nascent offspring) means that his election rather reasserts than transcends the ruthless disregard for humanity that made race and racism such potent instruments of evil.

{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Laura March 7, 2009, 2:49 pm

    I am very interested in actually talking about race. After working in teen pregnancy work for some years, I one day noticed that no black women had been among my workers. I kept waiting for the large black church in town to respond to my invitations for workers. None ever came.

    I previously thought that the black community had a lot of spiritual giftings within it. I now have a whole lot of doubts. Can black Christians be trusted to be Christian first? or will they stand together as this persecuted victim of hated white society? What happened here?

  • Gilbert February 21, 2009, 11:40 pm

    Oooook… WOW! I came back to comment because for two days, NO one wanted to address your blog here on racism. I did not know I would find that some had not been tucked in with their Abilify last night…

    Anyway, I see you are correct here Brother Keyes. Not only are people scared to talk about the issue at hand (as typical of “liberals”), but they think you are crazy AND change the subject as usual (typical with “liberals”).

    Does the one man know that not many years ago he could have been taken to the gallows for such behavior? Wanting America to become communist. Please! Why not just move? What kind of person would stay in THIS country when they could move to any number of countries and get that type of government – AND be far away from you?

    You did not win the Illinois Senate race because that election was stolen by TACTICAL maneuvering. Everyone knows that. It was in the papers; the tricks they used. But as I have said before we are back to the comprehension thing again… That is why they cannot get the severity of what has taken place.

    Even if Barak WAS AMERICAN, how could we put our trust in someone who has NO RECORD and turn our back on someone like John McCain, who has served this country faithfully for many years? I mean honestly he shot himself in the foot with a lot of the stupid “bi-partisan” legislation he helped with, but America elected someone with the same beginning track record of Adolf Hitler. Another ruse of trying to work across the isle by “liberals” – this campaign finance mess. They know they had that planned for a while.

    Anyone with any sense knows that Barak is not even in that White House because of ANYTHING he has done besides talk A LOT. That election is all due to the rich WHITE people that put him there – the same ones that, along with the cleverly disguised reparations he is giving to minority and illegal voters, are receiving millions from the criminulus package.

    The black people in this country are soon to see which color is dominant in him AND JUST HOW RACIST HE CAN BE…

    Boy I am saddened to think what George Washington would think after as hard as he fought for us and did not even know us…

  • kenshei February 21, 2009, 2:00 am


    After going through your blog (and looking at your picture) I don’t think you’ve really got the right to criticize anyone for supposedly being crazy.

    If you are going to engage someone because you don’t like something they’ve got to say, then address what they’ve got to say. Don’t act like a child; I think that you’re probably twice my age, so you really don’t have much of an excuse.

  • dv8ed1 February 20, 2009, 8:57 pm

    Alan, I listened to your latest delusional diatribe on TV about PRESIDENT Barack Obama’s birth place AGAIN!

    I like many many others laughed our collective behinds off watching you take yourself seriously while even the reporters laughed in your face.

    Like your many runs at public office, this urban legend has been debunked many times and I can’t believe you’re still bringing it up.

    So you’re not going to call him president? Booo hooo, I bet he’s broken hearted. Does that make you feel special for once? Face it, you’ll never win anything this important Alan, because only the fringe lunatics would ever think of following your hyperbole and support you.

    The last president that believed in you had Alzheimer’s, what’s that tell you Alan?

    Face it Keyes you lost in Chicago and got your backside rubbed raw. He was an unknown younger man with a funny name and he beat you like a rented mule. And you’re still seething from that deep and painful butt whooping?

    My suggestion is to FINALLY take it like a man and face the facts that for the next EIGHT YEARS PRESIDENT OBAMA will continue to laugh at your silliness with the rest of us, all at your expense.

    And as far as PRESIDENT OBAMA instituting communism in the US I would welcome it as long as its so far away from this Republican utopia that your former party and fellow cronies has made of this country (Yes, you’re responsible because you jumped ship just recently). ANYTHING has to be better than this garbage that you and your cohorts have done to and with this country.

    No sane country would ever let you have any office higher than dog catcher. You’re old enough to know that, just look at all your losses. What a waste of time and money. Not even the Republican’s want you any more Alan.

    Just hang it up…you’ve become irrelevant and a comical caricature of a man and his pathetic ineptitude at seeing his own fate.

  • ctgentleman February 20, 2009, 8:13 pm

    dear mr. keyes,
    please answer the following question. do the voices in your head make you act like the ass you are? or is there another reason?

  • Gilbert February 19, 2009, 1:34 am

    Dr. Keyes, I have spent the last hour & 1/2 being amazed at where key words will get you with Google. While we were over here trying to figure out who we were as a nation, constantly caught up in racial turmoil we refuse to let go of, Barak Obama was in Kenya (possibly breaking federal laws) promoting a murderous politician (who supports black on black racism) to be president of Kenya while covering with US government related business – HIV/AIDS. Of course, paid for by US TAXPAYER $$$$$ (he was not on the plane by himself…) But then as a presidential candidate over here, he wants to act as if he is above racism. He is going to deliver us… What a joke! I saw Wright's sermons on BET…

    I do not agree entirely with the cowardice notion when it comes to race. My black friends respect me for speaking my mind – sometimes more after they cool down and realize I can only speak what I know. Of course, most of my friends are Christian and we talk about a lot of things. My older black friends explain to me why black people feel the way they do towards republicans. I try to understand – BUT WE DO TALK UNADULTERATED. And hang out in places after church!

    I have found that the subject always stops because the word racist is used. I think because that is the easy way out. Like when I have seen you or Thomas Sowell on TV and I hear a black person degrade you both because they do not agree. So you have to be racist.

    Or like when I hear white people (Sean Hannity for example) have to be reduced to a racist by an angry and bitter rep from Farrakhan's crew, when he has an audience of millions and could have a mature and far reaching conversation but decides to stop it with racism.

    I was saddened to watch the Black Republicans and see how under supported they were and how many black people do not like them. The black democrats use the term racist again. Of course, I was even more saddened though (sick, actually) to see how you were treated by the Republican party.

    Only because of your stance on God and religion in America during the debates were you treated unfairly – I believe the main reason anyway.

    Anyway, what I am trying to say is that it always seems to be like children arguing. Neither know what is right and what is wrong because they have no moral compass, so they resort to name calling and then just do not hang around with each other anymore. They go find someone who agrees with them and then it just becomes a bigger fight. Unless, of course, you were raised by a mom who made you hug each other and say, "I love you" – making you realize just how silly you were being.

    Barak is not that type of person though and neither is Holder. They will never embrace America because they believe it is their destiny to perfect us. I was amazed that the first thing we really hear from him is something along the lines of name calling. AND THE AMERICAN PUBLIC? I mean come on… which nation does he think makes it possible for him to be where he is today? No respect! Do cowards put their lives on the line for one another as we have done over the past 200 + years? Things ain't perfect, but like I always heard, the guilty pig always squeals first! Maybe he should look in the mirror – if he ain't a coward.

    Thank you for your words of wisdom, sir. I really do enjoy reading your columns and listening to you via internet. I still sincerely hope you will be our REAL first black president.

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