Monday, March 24, 2008


Pat Buchanan's recent article concerning Barack Obama's speech on race last week is pretty vintage Buchanan. Despite his over the top style at times, I am an admirer of the Buchananite philosophy of social traditionalism and economic patriotism. And I was proud to cast my vote for President in 2000 for "Pitch Fork" Pat. In this article, however, he went too far.

First, let me say that Obama's speech was a nice piece of speechmaking and, for the most part, was a rehashing of well worn calls for greater racial peace. The one thing that did make Obama's speech different was his own perspective as a bi-racial child growing up in America. He illustrated this well in his comments about the anger in black America that remains from a history of slavery and Jim Crow and the resentment of white America for racial set-asides and the seeming lack of acknowledgment for how far this nation has gone on the question of race. Obama spoke of both these sentiments with a certain authenticity that is quite foreign for politicos. I remain a bit bewildered by what Obama hoped to accomplish politically, but I am still impressed by his candor.

Few political talking-heads represent white resentment better than Buchanan. There is a certain truth to both claims by black and white America when it comes to race, but white America must remember that the state of race relations is largely our fault. Here is where Buchanan goes too far:
First, America has been the best country on earth for black folks. It was here that 600,000 black people, brought from Africa in slave ships, grew into a community of 40 million, were introduced to Christian salvation, and reached the greatest levels of freedom and prosperity blacks have ever known. [Rev. Jeremiah] Wright ought to go down on his knees and thank God he is an American.
It is simply too easy for some white people to gloss over the phrase "brought from Africa in slave ships" as if that was something that happened to all of us. And I find this sort of argument more often than not from white ethnics of Irish, Italian or Eastern European ancestry. We can acknowledge the unjust treatment of immigrant white ethnics at the turn of the century, but we cannot compare that experience to 200 years of slavery, segregation, lynchings and terrorism that black Americans have suffered and endured. White America cannot say "listen, we have all had it bad, just move on!"

Pat Buchanan and others who make such arguments are just plain wrong and cannot let their resentment over injustice be an excuse for white-washing history.

Mason Slidell

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