Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Barack Obama Disses His Grandma

Maybe it's just me, but Obama never seemed less authentically black then when he trashed his grandmother in that "A More Perfect Union" speech yesterday (transcript courtesy of the Washington Post).

"I can no more disown [Rev. Dr. Wright] than I can disown the black
community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother – a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe."

The anecdote about his grandmother can be found on pages 88 and 89 of Obama's autobiography (Dreams of My Father) and it consists of this: one day when Obama was about 16, his grandmother, who was the main income earner for his family, and who rode the bus to her job at a bank, complained to her husband that she was being harassed by a bum at the bus stop. Obama's grandfather, an Old School lefty, chastised his wife for her presumed racial prejudice (since the bum was black) and refused to drive her to her job.

Judge for yourself whether that story qualifies as cringe-making racial or ethnic stereotyping. Or whether it doesn't really tell you more about his lazy and judgmental grandfather than it does about his grandmother.

Personally, I don't know any black man who would diss his mother or grandmother as Obama has done in his books and speeches. That simply is not typical behavior of an American black man. It is, however, typical behavior of privileged white yuppies, a social description that is a much better fit to Obama's cultural background of prep schools, Columbia University, and Harvard Law School.

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