vendredi, mars 28, 2008

The appearance of balance

It wasn't until I read Matt Bai's blog on the 2008 campaign this evening that I was able to think articulate what bothered me so much about the Barack Obama comment made while addressing the Jeremiah Wright contretemps.

His grandmother was a "typical white person," in her reactions to black people, specially young black men, he asserted. OK, that was a revealing comment. Some of us white folks don't get nervous and want to cross the street when we see a group of young black men walking towards us. Or any more nervous than if they were a group of young white men-in certain circumstances.

But what really bugged me was Obama's need to balance one criticism, that of Rev. Wright, with the other he implied-that of his white grandmother. There was some kind of covert signalling going on there-I suspect Obama was reassuring the black community that he wasn't slamming them to make whites feel good.

Yes-he gets a lot of credit for raising the topic of race in the sophisticated and open way that he did.

However, I still don't think he needed to bring his grandmother into the conversation. A more general reference to white fears would have done the same thing without dragging in someone with whom he admittedly had a challenging relationship..

We seem to believe that if we allow for competing voices, diverse points of view, we create balance.

Yet in fact, we are left with competing voices-each whispering to their particular target group what they really would like to hear.

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