Obama uses “tough love” tactic on black community issues

The Washington Post reports this morning about Senator Barack Obama’s reaching out to the black community by openly airing out a little dirty laundry:

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) is delivering pointed critiques of the African American community as he campaigns for its votes, lamenting that many of his generation are “disenfranchising” themselves because they don’t vote, taking rappers to task for their language, and decrying “anti-intellectualism” in the black community, including black children telling peers who get good grades that they are “acting white.”

As he travels around the country in his effort to become the nation’s first black president, Obama has engaged in an intense competition for black voters — a crucial Democratic Party constituency that accounts for as much as half the electorate in some key primary states such as South Carolina. But the first-term senator, who has sought to present himself as an agent of change eager to challenge political convention, has taken the unusual route of publicly criticizing his own community.

In a brief interview, Obama said he is simply giving broader exposure to the problems that African Americans discuss with great frankness in private. “It’s what we talk about in the barbershops in the South Side of Chicago,” Obama said, adding that he talks about these problems more in the black community because they are more pronounced there. “There’s an old saying that if America has a cold, we have pneumonia,” he said.

Aides say there is no specific strategy to target black voters by injecting these themes into the race and note that Obama speaks to white audiences about the importance of parents turning off their kids’ televisions and demanding that they finish their homework. Obama says he is echoing the concerns he hears from and shares with other African Americans.

Ok. First, I won’t knock any black politician or other public figure who goes against the grain when talking about issues facing the black community. I don’t have any fondness at all for Senator Obama, but more power to him if he can shed some light and become a part of the solution, instead of being part of the problem. And by “solution” I don’t mean a government solution. I mean by encouraging personal responsibility.

That said, you may be wondering why the Washington Post is treating the Senator as though it’s rare for a prominent black figure to publicly speak out about and propose solutions for the problems facing the black community, because the types of problems facing the black community are issues that other prominent black figures like Larry Elder, Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, Star Parker, La Shawn Barber, Shelby Steele, Michael Steele (no relation to Shelby, as far as I know), and many other black conservatives have been talking about for years in similar – and in some cases stronger – terms than the Senator has used.

The ‘difference’ between them and Obama, of course, is that he’s a Democrat so he must be ‘sincere.’ Conservative black people are routinely criticized and denigrated as ‘traitors’ or ‘Uncle Toms’ or ‘Oreos’ – or any combination of the above, and more, because they dared to stray off the liberal black plantation and identify themselves as more in line with conservative ideals of personal responsibility and accountability rather than the liberal ideals of ‘government responsiblity’ and ‘group think.’ For that, they are not taken seriously in the black community and furthermore are not respected by Democrats in general who view them as ‘sell outs.’

But let a black Democrat come out and essentially say the same thing black conservatives have said routinely over the years? Now that’s news.

Come to think of it, maybe the Washington Post is right to treat this as a significant development. I mean, after all, how often do you hear a Democrat of any color actually advocating personal responsibility in any community, black or otherwise?

Related: Just read that Thomas Sowell has released a memoir titled A Man of Letters – here’s an overview:

A Man of Letters traces the life, career, and commentaries on controversial issues of Thomas Sowell over a period of more than four decades through his letters to and from family, friends, and public figures ranging from Milton Friedman to Clarence Thomas, David Riesman, Arthur Ashe, William Proxmire, Vernon Jordan, Charles Murray, Shelby Steele, and Condoleezza Rice. These letters begin with Sowell as a graduate student at the University of Chicago in 1960 and conclude with a reflective letter to his fellow economist and longtime friend Walter Williams in 2005.

Much of the social history of the United States during one of its most rapidly changing eras is covered in letters written as that history was unfolding. The beginnings of the civil rights movement, changes and crises on academic campuses in the 1960s, the controversies over race and IQ, and the effects of minimum wage laws are just some of the issues dealt with in these very candid and sometimes pungent letters. Personal development, political controversies, and personal and family crises are also part of the story told in these letters, which go from the humorous to the poignant, sometimes spiced with anger.

Should be fascinating!

Interested in buying a copy? Go here.

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