Can we assume that Barack Obama feels that it is the job of a president to heal racial wounds that were inflicted centuries ago? From his own remarks its a safe bet that he does.

In Obama’s beautifully crafted oration on race this week he made some very obvious points: poor people are stuck in a cycle of poverty; less educated people get poorer paying jobs; many public schools are dishing out substandard education. He made these points with special emphasis on the black community and very clearly stated:

“We do not need to recite here the history of racial injustice in this country. But we do need to remind ourselves that so many of the disparities that exist in the African-American community today can be directly traced to inequalities passed on from an earlier generation that suffered under the brutal legacy of slavery and Jim Crow.”

Why, you may be asking yourself do we need to remind ourselves about past inequities? That, at any rate, is what I’m asking myself! How does that help?

Obama then went on to say:

“This is where we are right now. It’s a racial stalemate we’ve been stuck in for years. Contrary to the claims of some of my critics, black and white, I have never been so naïve as to believe that we can get beyond our racial divisions in a single election cycle, or with a single candidacy – particularly a candidacy as imperfect as my own.”

‘Fixing’ Racism From the Oval Office

Look beyond the oratory and beyond the humble facade in this last statement and you will see that Obama truly believes that racism in the U.S. today is a problem that the president and the U.S. government can somehow, eventually, legislate out of existence. Not, he said “in a single election cycle” and not “with a single candidacy” but the implication is clear — he believes that, over time, the government should and can fix it!

It is the stark absurdity of this proposition that should raise eyebrows (and blood pressures). Racial inequality, as well as inequality based on gender, ethnicity, religious beliefs and personal preferences are not problems that will ever be solved with the stroke of a pen — not in the next administration or in any administration following that — provided we are still living in a Democracy and we are still bound by the Constitution.

Today, thanks to government prohibitions on discrimination in the workplace and in public facilities of all kinds, institutionalized racism is as dead as it can be in a free and democratic society. If we are to move beyond that we will be in a territory that we do not want to enter. Forcing people to coexist in public is one thing but that, as we all know, is not where racism ‘lives.’ Racism lives in the head and the heart! It will not be erased by presidential edict or by any legislation that could possibly be considered legal under our Constitution.

The Specter of Quotas

The only “tool” the government has left to address racial inequality is the racial quota; and the quota, as evil as racism itself, is not dead yet.

The majority of Americans are intelligent enough to realize that a particular ratio of white to black to brown faces in a school, college, university or work place will not enhance anyone’s education or make a company run more efficiently. If schools with a majority of black students provide substandard education, it is the problem with the schools that needs to be addressed not the colors of the students. If a company bases its hiring decisions on race and not on the qualifications of the applicants, that company will either fail due to its own ineptness or it will eventually wise up and revise its hiring practices.

Racial quotas accomplish only one thing, they stir up resentment: resentment from the person who is benefited by a quota and who knows, deep down inside, that he or she has accomplished nothing, they’ve just been “thrown a bone;” and resentment from the person who was denied an admission or a job just because they were not the right color.

Links:

CBS News: Transcript: Barack Obama’s Speech On Race

The American Spectator: Taking the Civil Rights Initiative

Blog Links:

All Things In Their Place: Obama’s Race Speech: Critically Acclaimed Flop, Or Ballot Box Office Gold?

Wolf Pangloss: The Speech Obama Didn’t Give

Whymrhymer’s P.O.V. can also be found at the My View from the Center at the American Chronicle and now also at Blogcritics Magazine.

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