Nothing New With Nothing to Offer

I just watched Obama’s acceptance speech, available here because the UK news networks wanted to share in the glory of the new world messiah.

Now I can’t say I watched it all that closely after a while, because I got bored with more of the same old thing. However, as the speech reached its crescendo, I listened just to marvel at how many sentences Obama and his speech writers could string together without actually saying anything.  The crowd was getting so excited at what he was saying and he wasn’t saying anything.

As he was being invested as a demi-god in the faux Greek temple, cheered in a football stadium by throngs of supporters, I marvelled once again at his rise. After a bit more than half a term in the US Senate and the equivalent of two terms in the Illinois Senate, he is the answer to all that troubles the world.

I thought it was particularly interesting that the news coverage talked to people who quoted Martin Luther King’s line from the “I Have a Dream” speech, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” But that’s exact what has happened. Barak Obama’s candidacy is not the fulfilment of King’s dream – or if he’s the fulfilment of King’s own dream, he’s not the fulfilment of King’s words. Obama is being judged by the colour of his skin.

After all, he is neither the descendant of the black American experience nor was did he grow up in his own experience of racial discrimination. But he’s black. He may be the first actual African-American every elected to any federal office. After all, his father was African and his mother is American. All of the other black elected officials I’ve known of were born to an American father and an American mother which makes them American-Americans, as best I can tell. So if people are wanting to elect an African-American, he’s about as authentic as they can get and about the only chance they are ever going to get.

If people are wanting to vindicate the slave heritage and the triumph of civil rights, then there is nothing remarkable or groundbreaking about his nomination. Denver was not, in the words of the Sky News, “The scene of an unprecedented night American history.” He has nothing in common with Martin Luther King, W.E.B. DuBois, Thurgood Marshall, James Meredith, or the Little Rock Nine, other than the amount of melanin in his skin.

Yet Another Apology for Slavery

When I saw on the CNN website that New Jersey was considering joining the misguided legislators of the Alabama, North Carolina, Virginia and Maryland in apologising for slavery, I thought, here we go again, more of liberal white folks and their politically correct guilt. Then I got curious.

The resolution is sponsored by Assemblymen William Payne and Craig Stanley. They are both black. Funny, CNN didn’t mention that. Why are they apologising for slavery? So it’s not so much that they feel guilty for slavery as they want to make other people feel guilty for it.

The resolution is being considered today by committee. The Assembly Appropriations Committee. When I saw that, I thought it seemed odd. There’s no spending involved in the resolution. Why would it get assigned to Appropriations? Somebody must have convinced the Assembly Speaker to send it to Appropriations. Will it get an easier ride there than somewhere else?

After all, the closest comparable legislation this session was ACR 175 which “Honors victims of the Holocaust forced to wear yellow badge with Star of David.” It was sent to the State Government Committee, where it died there without action. It was, however, introduced by two Republicans.

And maybe the Holocaust resolution wasn’t forceful enough. It was, after all, a modest five “Whereas” sentences long. ACR 270, the slavery resolution, with a verbosity that would make Al Sharpton proud, runs 26 paragraphs, some of them quite lengthy. See for yourself.

When I looked into why ACR 270 might get an easy ride in Appropriations, I saw that Chairwoman Nellie Pou had co-sponsored other legislation with Payne and Stanley, including extra money for the Wynona M. Lipman Ethnic Studies Center at Keen University. So you know me – I wanted to find out more about this facility. I found a report on the dedication of the center in 2003. It was in this report that I found a unique bit of journalism.

The daughter of the late Senator for whom the center is named spoke at the dedication. Or as the writer put it, “In memory of her mother, and in honor of the event, she read a stirring poem from the late poet, rapper and activist Tupac Shakur. . .” This is the same Tupac Shakur who shot two police officers, went to prison for a sexual assault that the judge descibed as “an act of brutal violence against a helpless woman”, went back to jail for an attack on a former employer, paid off a family in six figures for the death of their six-year-old son, had a former friend murdered execution-sytle, and finally beat the crap out the wrong person which led to Tupac’s death the same night in a drive-by shooting.

But for Assemblymen Payne and Stanley, all that is no doubt the fault of white people in the 18th and 19th century, so they want an apology.