Thursday, March 27, 2008

John McWhorter & Glenn Loury diavlog

[updated 2008.4.4]

I've been collecting various reactions to Senator Obama's 3.18.2008 "More Perfect Union" speech.

I keep coming back to the 3.20.2008 diavlog (56:51) between Glenn Loury and John McWhorter. So it gets its own post.

Some excerpts:

Update 3.31.2008: Loury, TPM Café A fuller account of Professor Loury's views. Without elaborating, let me say that I think Professor Loury is being disingenuous in accusing Senator Obama of being disingenuous merely because Obama's words about Rev. Wright's humanity, intelligence, etc., could equally well be applied to Louis Farrakhan (in Professor Loury's view). Even if true, that is not nearly a complete response to Obama's distinction between Wright and Farrakhan; but Professor Loury is pretending that it is, at least enough to justify flinging a serious word like 'disingenuous' at Senator Obama.

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{{:no exit comment 2008.4.4}}
As for Obama's position on Farrakahn and Wright, it is identical. He has stated clearly that he does not agree with some of their sentiments while refusing to denounce them personally. There is no difference. Wright has been his pastor and friend for twenty some odd years, i am glad he didn't 'throw him under the bus' yet i am also happy to hear he does not uncritically accept some of Wright's most inflammatory rhetoric ...."
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But what really bugged me was the accusation that Obama is being 'hypocritical' by allegedly 'exploiting a single-minded racial voting reflex among black Americans.' So, the alleged hypocrisy is that Obama does not want to be defined as 'the black candidate,' yet gladly accepts the votes of black people who choose to vote for him?

Come again? He is an African-American who wishes to be viewed primarily as a person, an American. He wishes to bring people together, and to become President of the United States. He may have preferences as to why people should vote for him, but that is ultimately none of his business. What is it Professor Loury thinks Obama should do to avoid this 'hypocrisy'? He is setting up a contrived choice that Obama allegedly has to make between "OK, you got me, I'm the black candidate" and "I'm not really black; all ye voters who reflexively vote for black candidates, my honesty and candor and desire to avoid charges of hypocrisy compel me to advise you of this."

That is a false choice, and I do not perceive any 'profound irony.' Senator Obama is perfectly entitled to portray himself as a person, an American, an African-American, a Christian, a father, etc., all of which are true about him, and are mutually consistent things a person can be. He has no choice but to accept the votes cast for him, by anybody, for whatever reasons.

Professor Loury also takes Senator Obama to task for failing to say "directly and explicitly what (beyond "the old ways of Washington politics") are the nature and dimensions of the failure [of the "old ways"], and how will what has gone so horribly wrong ever be remedied. Instead he simply calls for 'change.'"

I incorporate by reference everything Obama has actually said. The burden is not on the reader here. There is sufficient prima facie material in the record [e.g.] to have long since shifted the burden to those, like Professor Loury, who are willing to stand up and declare the absence of a substantive message. Obama has been very clear about what he means by 'change' in the context of this election. Change means greatly increasing the transparency of government, increasing accountability and oversight, restoring of the rule of law, eliminating undue influence by corporate and special interests in government. That kind of thing. Obama uses the word 'change' to mean something like what Professor Lessig means by it [e.g.]. How about responding substantively to what Senator Obama has actually said, rather than merely declaring that he hasn't said enough, or hasn't said it clearly enough, or provided a precise enough roadmap, or whatever?

And "stealthy revolutionary"? C'mon. That's just Rovean framing. Et tu, Professor Loury?

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  • Flash Forward: 2008.11.04

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