Esoteric Dissertations from a One-Track Mind

May 17, 2008

Obama and West Virginia

Filed under: culture, politics — Tags: , , — codesmithy @ 11:45 am

The Real News has a segment called “Obama faces racism in West Virgina.”  The piece created a lengthy discussion on reddit.  As such, I thought there were a couple themes worth addressing.

First, some people called the segment cherry-picking.  We can compare and contrast it to Jay Leno’s “Jaywalking” segments which is obviously cherry-picking.

Here is a typical segment “Jaywalking.”

One thing to notice is that Leno really prods the interviewee to answer.  Many times, it is obvious that the interviewee is aware of their own ignorance and just answers to get it over with.  It is also obvious that their answers are sometimes made in jest.  Matthew Palevsky doesn’t press the people he interviews for answers.  They opine directly and authoritatively on the questions they were asked.  Tracy, the one wearing a “Hillary” sticker, declared that Obama is a Muslim, apparently in opposition to the fact that Obama has been a member of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago for over a decade.

Others tried to draw an equivalence between black people voting for Obama because of his race, and people who won’t vote for him because of his race.  As I wrote before about “Hillary Clinton and Female Solidarity,” I do not see the moral equivalence.  The argument rests on a few factors, but a parallel argument can be made.  Racism exists in society today as a real, measurable phenomenon.  The group in question has not achieved proportional representation in the halls of power.  The question of the morality is not over the means, but rather the ends.  Is the solidarity being used in such a way to disenfranchise a group of people or to properly secure their rights as citizens?  In 2006, blacks made up around 12% of the population.  In the 109th Congress, 42 Representatives are black and 1 Senator (Barack Obama).  I’m not saying that there is some quota.  However, voting against a candidate, solely because he is black has the effect of further disenfranchising a race that is barely achieving proportional representation.  The converse, voting for a candidate solely because he is black helps maintain the balance.  Admittedly, it is not an ideal solution and one has to accept the fact that racism is a real phenomena.   There are arguments against this view, although in some ways I find them as disingenuous as some of the responses from the West Virginia voters.

Another commenter dismissed The Real News report because they had a “very specific political agenda” they didn’t agree with and was therefore, most likely, biased.  What exactly that political agenda is, who knows.  I just find it odd because I was accused of having an “agenda” before.  Honestly, Martinsburg just seems like a small town in Eastern West Virginia.  It didn’t look like Palevsky had to search that hard, he just talked to various people in the town.  How many people were there to cherry-pick from?  Around 16,000?

Finally, one commenter remembered:

During his 1956 presidential campaign, a woman called out to Adlai E. Stevenson: “Senator, you have the vote of every thinking person!” Stevenson called back “That’s not enough, madam, we need a majority!”

We’ll see if we are actually in better shape 52 years after Stevenson made his cynical comment.


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