Let's Face It: Obama's No Jackie Robinson
By WALTER E. WILLIAMS | Posted Wednesday, March 26, 2008 4:30 PM PT
Some pundits ask whether America is ready for Sen. Barack Obama. The much more important question is whether Obama is ready for America and even more important is whether black people can afford Obama. Let's look at it in the context of a historical tidbit.
In 1947, Jackie Robinson, signing a contract with the Brooklyn Dodgers, broke the color barrier in major league baseball. He encountered open racist taunts and slurs from fans, opposing team players and even some players on his own team.
Despite that, he hit .297 in his first year, led the National League in stolen bases and won the first-ever Rookie of the Year Award. Without question, he was an exceptional player.
There's no sense of justice that should require that a player be as good as Robinson in order to be a rookie in the major leagues, but the hard fact of the matter is, as the first black player, he had to be.
In 1947, black people could not afford a stumblebum ballplayer. By contrast, today black people can afford stumblebum black players. The simple reason is that as a result of the excellence of Robinson, as well those who immediately followed him, there's no one in his right mind who might watch the incompetence of a particular black player and say, "Those blacks can't play baseball." Whether we like it or not, whether for good reason or bad reason, people make stereotypes and stereotypes can have effects.
For the nation and for black people, the first black president should be the caliber of a Jackie Robinson, and Obama is not. Obama has charisma, but in terms of character, values and understanding, he is no Jackie Robinson.
By now, many have heard the racist and anti-American tirades of Obama's minister and spiritual counselor. There's no way Obama could have been a 20-year member of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's church and not been aware of his statements.
Wright's racist and anti-American ideas aren't unique. They're held by many leftist professors and taught to our young people. The basic difference between Obama, Wright and the professors is simply a matter of style and language.
The senator's Philadelphia speech demonstrated his clever style; he merely changed the subject. The controversy was not about race. It was about his longtime association with such a hatemonger and whether he shared the reverend's vision.
Obama's success is truly a remarkable commentary on the goodness of Americans and how far we've come in resolving race matters.
I'm 72. For almost all of my life, a black having a real chance at becoming president was at best a pipe dream. Obama has convincingly won primaries in states with insignificant black populations. As such, it further confirms what I've often said: The civil rights struggle in America is over, and it's won. At one time black Americans did not have the constitutional guarantees enjoyed by white Americans; now we do.
The fact that the civil rights struggle is over and won does not mean that there are not major problems confronting many members of the black community, but they are not civil rights problems and have little or nothing to do with racial discrimination.
While not every single vestige of racial discrimination is gone, Obama and Wright are absolutely wrong in suggesting it is anywhere near the major problem confronting a large segment of the black community.
Its problems are: family breakdown, illegitimacy, fraudulent education and a high crime rate. To confront these issues, which are not the fault of the larger society, requires political courage, and that's an attribute that Obama and most other politicians lack.
Copyright 2008 Creators Syndicate, Inchttp://www.ibdeditorials.com/IBDArticles.aspx?id=291416988280797