What is the right way to respond to the inauguration of a black president?

The below discussion was originally located in another entry. It concerns the way mainstream conservatives, in the name of race blindness, inevitably end up cheering the inauguration of a black as a black, and thus lose their race blindness.

N. writes:

Just a few moments ago I was greeted in a place of business by the proprietor with “Happy Obama Day.” He said it twice, and I was basically too flummoxed to reply. The obvious assumption was that everyone must be delighted with this empty barrel, celebrating the color of his skin rather than the content of his character. I expect more of this in the days to come.

So how should one reply? I do not wish to be rude, as the “Bush=Hitler” left was, nor do I wish to provoke confrontation casually. These are people I see every day, or every week, and I do wish to live in peace with them. However, I also refuse to lie. The only thought that has come to mind so far is to look the individual straight in the eye and say:

“Every day is Obama day, now,”


“For the next four years, it will be Obama day,”

in order to bring home to them the implications of the inauguration: Obama now is responsible for the defense of these United States.

Any suggestions are welcome.

Bruce B. writes:

N. wrote:

“The obvious assumption was that everyone must be delighted with this empty barrel, celebrating the color of his skin rather than the content of his character,.”


“Any suggestions are welcome.”

Regarding the latter, may I suggest the former? Why not say to these people that consistent with Saint Martin’s most quoted words, “I judge people by the content of their character NOT the color of their skin.”

LA replies:

Excellent. Because, in truth, the celebrations about Obama are entirely about the color of his skin. It’s the sheer fact that he’s “black” that makes his inauguration a world historical event. All these people, including pathetically incoherent “conservatives” such as David Horowitz, who are celebrating Obama’s presidency as an event of the ages, are race worshippers, whether they realize it or not. I’ll quote Horowitz again:

What matters today is that many Americans have begun to join their country’s cause, and conservatives should celebrate that fact and encourage it. What matters now is that the American dream with its enormous power to inspire at home and abroad is back in business. What it means is that the race card has been played out and America can once again see itself—and be seen—for what it is: a land of incomparable opportunity, incomparable tolerance, and justice for all. Conservative values—individual responsibility, equal opportunity, racial and ethnic pluralism, and family—are now symbolically embedded in the American White House. As a result, a great dimension of American power has been restored. Will these values be supported, strengthened, put into practice? It is up to us to see that they are.

Horowitz says that the “race card has been played out,” even as he also says that this wondrous consummation could only have happened through the election of a black—a black who, moreover, has no intention of challenging America’s race-conscious preference system. And it is only through the presence of a loving black family in the White House—a black family that lovingly followed for many years a white-hating black minister until political necessity forced them to drop him—that Horowitz’s highest ideals of race equality have been realized.

How, then, given Horowitz’s unacceptable contradictions, would an intellectually consistent race-blind conservative or right-liberal react to the election of the first nonwhite as president? Answer: he wouldn’t make a huge deal of it. He would say, “Starting in the 1960s America ceased to place arbitrary obstacles in the way of people because of race, and the election of Obama proves what has been the case in this country for a long time.” And that would be it. Going further than that, launching into an ecstatic celebration of Obama’s presidency, inevitably becomes a celebration of Obama BECAUSE he is nonwhite, which contradicts the right-liberal belief that race doesn’t matter.

Right-liberalism says that we should judge people solely by their individual character. Left-liberalism embraces nonwhites as nonwhites, thus putting down whites, who do not get such favored treatment and who in fact are the obstacle to black advance. And so the whites end up getting told, at the inaugural ceremony itself, that they are “not right” and need to “get right.”

So you can’t have it both ways. You can’t say that race doesn’t matter, and then, as David Horowitz has done, applaud the election of a black man because he is black. Right-liberals who do the latter only show the ease with which race-neutral right-liberalism turns into anti-white left-liberalism, as I’ve often pointed out.

Horowitz would of course say that it’s absurd to argue that he’s anti-white. On the surface, that statement may seem correct. But the deeper reality is that once a person puts a value on blackness as Horowitz has done, and even if he has done so in the name of achieving race neutrality, he has placed himself on the left-liberal continuum that demands the steady disempowerment of whites for the purpose of empowering blacks. This is proved by Horowitz’s off-the-planet claim that Obama’s presidency represents the triumph of equal treatment, when in reality the country still has the full panoply of pro-minority, anti-white race preferences that Horowitz used to condemn. At the very moment of celebrating Obama, Horowitz forgets and thus casts aside his opposition to the black privileges system and the entire anti-white reconstruction of America that goes with it.

So there’s no middle ground. Either you’re race neutral or you’re not.

Speaking in the context of today’s highly racially mixed America, I myself support the idea of race-neutrality in the area of government’s relations with citizens, and citizens’ relations with each other in the public square. In those areas, we should deal with each other as individuals and Americans. In this, my position is somewhat similar to that of Ward Connerly, who, while insisting on race-blind government (though I think he takes that idea too far), wisely allows for private areas of life where we do not demand race blindness. There is much more to a society than government’s relationship with citizens. There is the area of private relationships, family, community, and voluntary associations. There is the area of culture, which includes a shared identity, historical memory, and way of being. There is the racial composition of the society as a whole, which is a result of immigration policy. In all these areas, race ineluctably does matter. As I’ve said many times, liberalism (race neutrality being a a type of liberalism) can only operate in a non-destructive way within a culture that is itself non-liberal. In other words, for people to relate together as citizens, they must adhere to the shared standards of a majority culture, which means that the standards of a particular ethnocultural majority must be dominant. Of course this “mixed” model of limited liberalism operating under a dominant cultural majority breaks down when there is too much diversity, or when the majority loses its self-confidence, as happened in America during the Civil Rights period. (See my article, “How the 1964 Civil Rights Act made racial group entitlements inevitable,” where I discuss how America’s race problem could have been dealt with in a way that did not lead to the delegitimization of the majority culture.) In my view, the only kind of race-neutrality that can reasonably be expected and demanded, and that is really necessary for civil existence in a multiracial society, is a race neutrality that is limited to government and the public square. But Horowitz, while claiming to be race neutral not just in the limited sense I have outlined but across the board, violates race neutrality in the one area where it is valid and necessary, in the area of government and political life, by treating the election of a black president as a great thing in itself. And once the election of a black candidate becomes a good thing, doesn’t that mean that the defeat of a white candidate is a good thing? In the same way, if the undeserved advance of blacks through race preferences is good, the undeserved holding back of whites through race preferences is also good.

In the end, the supposed race-neutrality of right-liberalism always collapses into race-conscious left-liberalism, because the very reason that race-neutrality was adopted in the first place was not to achieve race-neutrality for its own sake, but to help advance blacks and eliminate white dominance. Thoroughgoing race-neutrality is impossible in this world. In any society with two or more conspicuously different racial groups, one group will define the majority culture and the others will not. Therefore, when a culturally dominant racial majority group embraces race-neutrality as its highest moral principle, it is in reality preparing to hand over the leadership of the culture and the nation to some other racial group or groups. Which is proved by the mainstream “conservatives” who in the name of race equality are celebrating a presidential inauguration that culminated with an anti-white prayer

Bruce B. writes:

Just to elaborate, N. might either quote MLK and then say “Obama hasn’t shown us enough yet to judge the content of his character, and certainly not to justify the orgasmic levels of adoration.” Or he might go on the attack and say that “I have judged him by the content of his character (supports infanticide, embraces a hateful, divisive minister, etc.) and judge him to be of poor character.”

Sage McLaughlin writes:

“You can’t say that race doesn’t matter, and then, as David Horowitz has done, celebrate the election of a black man because he is black.” Which is why, as you have said, right liberalism will always morph into the leftist kind sooner or later. If you ever need proof of this, just try actually getting a liberal to judge MLK by the content of his character.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at January 21, 2009 05:48 PM | Send

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