Have you ever noticed that there is no grey in American politics? Everything is in stark contrast. Everything is defined within strict parameters. As President Bush so famously said: “You’re either for us or against us.”
This unfortunate dichotomy has once again taken center stage with the publication of racially-charged statements by Jeremiah Wright, Barack Obama’s pastor.
Rex Murphy had a very good column in The Globe and Mail this past Saturday about this week’s events, including Obama’s incredible speech on racial politics in the United States. You owe it to yourself to read his speech. I posted a small section of it a couple of days ago, but you have to read it in its entirety. It’s a significant speech that will probably become more significant as time passes – hopefully.
Basically Murphy contends that for the past year or so, Obama has been able to ‘transcend’ race. He was able to gather support from all corners of America, creating a movement united for change. But that has completely changed in the past couple of weeks. Now the politics of race has taken center stage; or as Murphy says, “so must for postracial politics.”
Previously, Obama’s biggest racial criticism were whether or not he was ‘black’ enough because his mother is white. Now he is considered black, but one who must once again prove he is ‘good enough’ to win the White House. What an incredible about-face considering his past momentum.
Racism continues to deeply divide America, even in the 21st century. And we are foolish to think that Canada is not the same.
I just hope Murphy’s last sentence does not come true:
If Barack Obama can honestly turn this moment not to his own, but to his country’s advantage, he will deserve the presidency.
If he can not, this once so promising campaign will leave scars on American politics on the matter of race not seen since the turbulent days of the civil rights movement.