Rev. Wright and my random thoughts on Blacks and Jews
March 14, 2008
I am often infuriated by Daniel Larison’s obsessions with Obama, but I am with him 100% in this defense of the Rev. Wright controversy.
I’ll leave aside for the moment why this makes it to me all the more bizarre that so many of my conservative friends are in a lather having convinced themselves rather erroneously that Obama is out to vindicate the Brookings Institution. Not that I’m not also appalled by the things Rev. Wright stands for, I certainly am, but leave it to Larison to give me some perspective on what I have found specifically unsettling about Wright.
What I have always envied about the blacks is how they have, largely in just the last several years, cast off the last vestiges of militancy for a total embrace of bourgeois values, in a way we Jews have not and desperately need to. Could most black people today even begin to imagine a world in which the Panthers had managed to wrest control of one or two of the Sea Islands and the NAACP transformed into a lobby for vast military subsidies to said regime for, among othe purposes, raining terror upon the remaining white inhabitants? How did the Jewish counter-scenario come to pass?
This, of course, leads me to my gut reaction to Rev. Wright, advocating a destructive black mirror image of Jewish parochialism and anti-assimilationism. Yet Obama, in spite of his idiosyncrasies, is the unmistakable symbol of the black embrace of bourgeois values.
The last gasp of the militant is instructive, with the wave of commercialized Afro-centrism that dominated in the early to mid-90s, with such ultimately farcical political demonstrations as the Rodney King riots and the Million Man March. Nothing reminds me of this so much today as the similarly inchoate and probably last gasps of the current “orthodox hipster” fad (broadly defined here to be sure) represented most prominently by Jewcy.com. The fact that they are largely on the right side in the Middle East and beyond makes it more ultimately vain.
For myself, I remain nonetheless more culturally conservative than this tirade might suggest, and so on a certain level I can empathize with Obama for precisely that sense of honor for which Larison praises him in sticking by Rev. Wright. Obama probably feels about him much as someone like Philip Weiss would about an old Zionist leftist like Michael Walzer, someone who deeply impacted him at a formative stage but is increasingly a raging embarrassment.
So may we all head into the glorious bourgeois future together. Yes we can (sips kool-aid).