March 23, 2008

Newsweek's Jonathan Alter to African-Americans: Don't be so black; be more Barack!

Newsweek's liberal columnist Jonathan Alter makes explicit one of the underlying motivations for Obamamania:

While Obama can do much to guide white Americans toward a better racial future and a greater appreciation that poor kids are not, as he says, "someone else's children," his most exciting potential for moral leadership could be in the African-American community.

Remember the 1998 movie "Bulworth," where Warren Beatty plays a U.S. senator suffering a nervous breakdown? When Beatty's character tells astonished black Democrats that it's time for them to "put down the chicken and the malt liquor," it's final proof that Jay Bulworth is crazy and suicidal. But consider what happened late last month in Beaumont, Texas, when I covered Obama speaking before an African-American audience. A woman asked about health care and Obama explained how, for the first time in human history, thousands of obese children, many of them black, were being diagnosed with adult-onset diabetes—a disease that is killing millions and helping bankrupt the health-care system. He told the crowd that kids couldn't keep on "drinking eight sodas a day," then went in Bulworth's direction. "I know some of y'all got that cold Popeye's [chicken] out for breakfast. I know," Obama said with a smile. He continued: "That's why y'all laughing. You can't do that. Children have to have proper nutrition. That affects also how they study, how they learn in school … It's not good enough for you to say to your child, 'Do good in school,' and then when that child comes home, you got the TV set on, you got the radio on, you don't check their homework, there is not a book in the house, you've got the videogame playing." Instead of being jeered, he was cheered wildly.

Obviously, not all black adults and children would suddenly start doing exactly what President Obama tells them. As he said in his Philadelphia speech, he's not naive enough to believe that one politician will transform American attitudes. But it must make at least some difference when Obama tells African-American audiences, as he did this year on Martin Luther King Jr. Day at Atlanta's Ebenezer Baptist Church, that they need to stop being homophobic and anti-Semitic.

I call this theory, "Don't be so black; be more Barack!"

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

35 comments:

Garland said...

Black audiences always cheer those kinds of remarks, at least if they're coming from black people. Occasionally liberals will witness an assembly of blacks cheering for good values and they think there's been some kind of breakthrough.

Grizzlie Antagonist said...

Yeah, Jesse Jackson was occasionally making the same observations in front of black audiences.

I'm not exactly sure why Bill Cosby was excommunicated for doing the same thing.

mansizedtarget said...

We shouldn't be utterly hopeless. If in response to this Wright mess he moves in this direction and uses his prestige to try to reform some of the pathologies of black America and move it back in the healthy direction it was under the leadership of the early NAACP and Booker T. Washington and people of that caliber, then it would be a good thing. It would the best possible side effect of his election. People change. Culture changes. Blacks were not always in the degraded cultural condition they're in now. But I'm not sure he has it in him. As a biracial guy with identity issues, I think he'll always back down when the heat comes his way, unlike someone like Bill Cosby. Plus I think he buys all that socialist nonsense, which is genuinely scary for everyone.

Johnson said...

It's truly a tragedy that Obama's words will still ultimately be words. Despite the people cheering him, there's still the limits of biology and the left side of the black bell curve that didn't attend his speech and won't listen.

I don't think we can really blame Obama for trying to bridge the gap. It's really an almost intractable problem.

Anonymous said...

Happy Easter! I hope you had a good one.

While some of this stuff can be cheered, the examples of say, Bill Cosby should be sobering for Obama. And likely informed his attitudes towards Wright and his refusal to throw him under the bus with his willingness to throw Granny under.

What's cited is about as far as he can go. [Dalrymple cited that years ago btw, that one can eat not only better and healthier but far cheaper with decent home cooked meals. Comparing native White Britons who are as dysfunctional btw as the Black urban community with Indian emigres and rich white yuppies buying fruits, vegetables, and rice at prices far below supermarket prices.]

Sort of "stuff whiter people like" ... white yuppies will go off and haunt ethnic markets for cheap/good ingredients for ethnic food, such as Pad Thai, and watch Food Network, scour internet recipe sites, etc. Hang about Williams Sonoma (check it out, almost all White yuppies). I see no other ethnic group doing that.

Most "whiter people" i.e. those on the blog site can identify Bobby Flay and who he is. I doubt anyone outside that rich white yuppie group could. And it's interesting that a whole cuisine and love for cooking just got lost among the Black community post-segregation. Not that Soul cooking is particularly healthy. But it is ... delicious. It's a shame it's been lost.

Appeal to Reason said...

White people and black conservatives say they want blacks to get their act together and take responsibility for themselves, but do they really? After all, Louis Farrakhan has done more to help poor blacks get back on their feet than all the the exhortations of Ward Connerly, Clarence Thomas, Walter Williams, Thomas Sowell, Shelby Steele, and all of white America combined, yet Farrakhan is the most vilified man in America, although by now Dr. Wright must be a close second. You say you want blacks to get their act together. Well, the "hate whitey" message seems to work better than anything else anybody's come up with. You got a better idea?

Danindc said...

"Don't be so black; be more Barack"...that may not catch on in the MSM- just a guess.

Anonymous said...

Not their fault. Everyone who isn't a crazed racist knows that Popeye's was concocted in the CIA kitchen while the guys down the hall were cooking up HIV/AIDS in the lab.

Tom Merle said...

The Civil Rights Act, paradoxically, sounded the death knell for a functional black community. Has anyone seen that documentary of Black Baltimore before WWII? A thriving set of neighborhoods. But that was because the brighter, more ambitious members of this part of the city couldn't exit and start assimilating. Once this happened, Baltimore gradually became the dysfunctional place captured on HBO by The Wire (war profiteers all of those white film makers).

I agree with grizzlie; there are no effective solutions, except for Brave New World sort of drugs that modify the personalities and capacities of inner city blacks.

abe said...

Sailer's commentary makes no sense. Are we to believe that there's something "black" about overfeeding your children?

Anonymous said...

Abe, your comment make no sense. that was Jonathan Alter's commentary on What Obama said/ Unless you are saying that Obama makes no sense.

Anonymous said...

What I don't get is why there is not more said about the fact that Obama is half white.

Even if his dad was talented, Obama's success as a black man can be diminished by pointing out that he is after all half white.

Doesn't this bug blacks? And doesn't it cause the guilty whites to feel hypocritical?

Anonymous said...

Abe -- see my comment. It's common to Britain's white underclass as well. Read Dalrymple's "Life at the Bottom." Nearly everything that applies to inner city blacks applies to underclass British whites. Appalling.

And contradicts the Bell Curve evidence. Cultural issues tend to matter more -- no surprise they are the largest environmental factor in people's lives.

As far as Farrakhan, no he's a dead end. Blaming others for your problems to promote a false, fragile, and non-expansive unity is no solution. Yes he provides "unity" for Inner City Blacks, but only a few. He can't provide unity for more than a few, while promoting self-destructive culture. He merely extorts more money out of whites from governmental handouts. He won't address the base issues and change culture.

Yes the end of segregation ended decent life for inner city Blacks. But again the unity of segregation was a "false" unity -- borne of oppression by segregation and Jim Crow, rather than a real unity of shared values. No wonder things fell apart as soon as the enemy gave up. But the cultural aspects of "blame Whitey(tm)" should not be ignored either. It's toxic -- "learning" is "white" and discouraged, so too monogamy, etc.

Appeal to Reason said...

Anon-

You can agree or disagree with Farrakhan's ideology. But I don't see how you can argue with the results. Its indisputable that the Nation of Islam has helped thousands of black people learn how to respect themselves and other blacks. The NOI takes Black men straight out of prison and turns them into respectable human beings. You want blacks to stop drinking malt liquor and eating fatty foods? Well, which religion forbids alcohol (and all drugs) and pork? Also, statistics show that black Muslims have lower crime rates than their non-Muslim counterparts.
So why do you oppose this? Because the Muslims hurts your feelings as a white man?

Garland said...

"I'm not exactly sure why Bill Cosby was excommunicated for doing the same thing."

Well, cause he made clear that he really meant it, in the sense of prioritizing it and repeating it constantly. He explicitly said "I dont want to hear about white racism any more." _That's_ a breakthrough.

green mamba said...

What I don't get is why there is not more said about the fact that Obama is half white.

Even if his dad was talented, Obama's success as a black man can be diminished by pointing out that he is after all half white.

Doesn't this bug blacks? And doesn't it cause the guilty whites to feel hypocritical?


I think what you say in paragraphs two and three answers the question implicit in paragraph one.

benn franklyn said...

Well, white Americans feel the need to be "oppressed" by Communism or Arab Terrorists or Indians or whatever the case may be. It's human nature to unite against a perceived common enemy, and politicians use that.

Do poor African-Americans feed their kids junk? Oh ye clueless whiterperson, if only those kids' pantry shelves were not stocked with Kool Aid, sugar cereals, sodas, and Pop Tarts. When they are stocked at all.

And the Nation of Islam types do tend to be the most clean cut folk in the Hood. It's just another fact of life, for better or worse.

Anonymous said...

I bet Jonathan Alter didn't read the NJ section of Sunday's NY Times ("Glimmers of Progress: A Failing School in Newark Tests New Approaches". The first paragraph may remind some of an old racist joke:

THIRD grade has always been a hard year for Rahmana Muhammad’s children, and therefore for her. All of a sudden, it seems to this mother of four, their textbooks have fewer pictures, their homework lasts for hours, and their test scores plummet.

The Occam's Razor conclusion one takes away from this article, where one of the "glimmers of progress" is Ms. Muhammad's daughter Dyshirah earning an average of 51% on her class math tests (up from 17% at the start of the marking period) is that these kids aren't very intelligent. To the extent that this is true in general of most inner-city blacks, it raises the question of how many of their obstacles in life are due to racism and how many are due to a plain lack of ability.

- Juan

braindead said...

Im' dreading the first honeymoon months of his presidency. The press swooning will be unbearable. Eventually the whole farce will come crashing down and then people will notice that they have just another hood pol in the WH. Kinda scary if you think about it.

Paul K. said...

How many times do blacks have to hear these sorts of self-help messages? Do they ever make any difference? Pregnant blacks have such a record of failing to take advantage of free pre-natal and post natal care to the point that black politicians have suggested paying them to do so. Is that what we have to do? Pay them for each and every effort they make in their own self interest?

I remember back in the 1970s Jesse Jackson was known for lecturing blacks to get their act together. Eventually they got tired of it so he transitioned to the ever-popular (and far more profitable) blame-whitey theme.

By the way, is there some Asian leader exhorting Asians to do well in school and to be entrepreneurial? If not, where the heck do they come up with those ideas?

Anonymous said...

Problem is that Barack is way out in front. He is 50% white, the average African American is only about 18% white.

David said...

contradicts the Bell Curve evidence. Cultural issues tend to matter more

Just show them the way - the correct and healthy culture (originating from where?) - and they'll behave as you wish, eh? Balderdash.

"Contradicts the Bell Curve evidence." How?

Anonymous said...

Its easy for a Jewish guy like Alter to admonish blacks,"Dont be homophobic or anti-Semitic".Tose are extremely PC attitudes. Let him tell blacks "Dont be anti-white" and Jon will be under the bus with Granny!!

headache said...

anonymous sed:
"Doesn't this bug blacks? And doesn't it cause the guilty whites to feel hypocritical?"

The reason for this is that blacks and liberals apply the one-drop-rule. To them Obama is black, period, regardless of where he got his talents from.

migraine said...

"Obviously, not all black adults and children would suddenly start doing exactly what President Obama tells them."

Nice to see that Alter has already decided who the prez will be. Maybe he knows someting we don't. Maybe the press has already decided the outcome of the "democratic" election for us. Maybe they are now just open in their partisanship and absolute disdain for the ordinary American.

Anonymous said...

Appeal to reason said:

"So why do you oppose this? Because the Muslims hurts [sic] your feelings as a white man?"

I think most white Americans would welcome improved standards of behavior and industriousness, but not at the expense of their adopting an overtly racist ideology that promotes hatred of whites like the NOI. The NOI is not a solution to black problems. If most blacks took it seriously, it could only lead to more racial anamosity and violence, not less.

Appeal to Reason said...

anon said:

I think most white Americans would welcome improved standards of behavior and industriousness, but not at the expense of their adopting an overtly racist ideology that promotes hatred of whites like the NOI. The NOI is not a solution to black problems. If most blacks took it seriously, it could only lead to more racial anamosity and violence, not less.

Look, the fact is that Black Muslims and others like them have done a good job cleaning up the hood. If you have a better idea, let me hear it. Otherwise, stop complaining.
In fact, one of the main reasons why NOI gets things done is because rather than despite, their hatred of whites. The reason will be readily understandable to any regular reader of this blog. It's simple human nature. Human beings are prone to cooperating in groups, but only when they see a clear benefit that would arise from their cooperation. One of the easiest ways to convince people to cooperate with each other is to unite them around a common enemy. The most natural enemy for black people is whites. Thus, the NOI tells its followers not to take drugs, drink, or engage in prostitution because these things are the "white man's poison." It tells black men not to kill or steal from each other because they are only "playing into the white man's hands," and so forth. Everything is a conspiracy against black people, so black people need to be careful not to fall into a trap. It doesn't matter whether its true or not. It works. It works better than all the conservative appeals to "personal responsibility" in the world. It works better than black conservatism because Blacks perceive that black conservatives are only seeking approval from white people, which is probably true.

Nationalism has been one of the most successful organizing principle in human history, and black nationalism is no exception. As benn franklyn said:
It's human nature to unite against a perceived common enemy

Anybody who claims to take sociobiology seriously, including the vast majority of Steve's readers, should know that.
If black nationalism of the Wright and Farrakhan varieties, for example, works for blacks, it would be extremely selfish of me, as a white person, to oppose it just because they say some mean things about me.

braindead said...

appeal to reason,
The reason what you sed is "extremely selfish" is that the NOI and Wright rhetoric means whites get screwed in practice, via AA, crime, guilt-tripping. Your rant sounded like a convoluted excuse for hyping blacks at the expense of whitey without saying as much.

RobertHume said...

While sociology can drive people down, among those driven down, those with higher IQs will do better.

If the US has a poor culture, the average white will do better than the average black.

If this cannot be attributed to IQ then discrimination will be blamed and "anger" and counterproductive quotas and unhelpful educational emphasis based on color instead of on interests and IQ will result.

Nothing will change until the society recognizes the reality of average differences in IQ.

Anonymous said...

appeal to reason,

Here is the problem: whites have to oppose black nationalism as a matter of self interest. Black nationalism is far more concerned with shaking down whitey for every historical grievance from well before most black nationalists were born as it is about ethnic pride and self-sufficiency. If black nationalism really were about the latter as opposed to the former, I would be more sanguine about having a black nationalist in the White House with a bully pulpit and nuclear weapons.

And here's something else to consider: the track record for black governance is absolutely appalling. Can anyone tell me why it is in any white person's interest to hand political power to blacks? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

Anonymous said...

Appeal to reason said:

"In fact, one of the main reasons why NOI gets things done is because rather than despite, their hatred of whites. The reason will be readily understandable to any regular reader of this blog. It's simple human nature. Human beings are prone to cooperating in groups, but only when they see a clear benefit that would arise from their cooperation. One of the easiest ways to convince people to cooperate with each other is to unite them around a common enemy. The most natural enemy for black people is whites."

I don't disagree with anything you said, however, I still feel that NOI is a dead end. Even if riling up a hatred of whites gets blacks to behave a little better, I hope you understand that if the level of hostility to whites becomes unbearable, it will awaken whites' sense of ethnic identity and group awareness and whites will no longer accept or excuse black nationalism, hostility and economic and behavioral failings. Since blacks basically occupy a parasitic position in the US, receiving huge net transfer payments and occupational and educational preferences from whites, if whites develop a strong hostility to blacks and cut off this largesse, then blacks will be in a far worse position unless they can make a go of things themselves economically and socially, which no black population anywhere in the world has ever done. Maybe they can do it, but I don't see any indications.

Anonymous said...

"check it out, almost all White yuppies). I see no other ethnic group doing that."
I do it and I'm not rich at 50K in a large, east coast urban area. "Rich" has little to do with being "whiter." I don't know--maybe it could be IQ? Poor yuppies can't spend 50K on a brushed stainless steel kitchen, but we still like to read about them.
Reading costs nothing really.

Anonymous said...

"Nearly everything that applies to inner city blacks applies to underclass British whites. Appalling."

Don't be silly. The violent crime rate, especially rape, is no where near the aa american rates. This reminds me of when the irish immigrants were condemned for crime. Yeah--comparatively speaking they were unlawful, but among them, rape was almost unknown and murder fairly rare.

appeal to reason said...

For all of those white people drooling over Bill Cosby, why don't you actually the speech he gave instead of just fawning over it? In it, he said:

I’m saying, look at the Black Muslims. There are Black Muslims standing on the street corners and they say so forth and so on, and we’re laughing at them because they have bean pies and all that, but you don’t read, “Black Muslim gunned down while chastising drug dealer.” You don’t read that. They don’t shoot down Black Muslims. You understand me. Muslims tell you to get out of the neighborhood. When you want to clear your neighborhood out, first thing you do is go get the Black Muslims, bean pies and all. And your neighborhood is then clear. The police can’t do it. I’m telling you Christians, what’s wrong with you? Why can’t you hit the streets? Why can’t you clean it out yourselves?

Bob Andelman said...

You might also enjoy this Mr. Media radio interview with Jonathan Alter from May 19, 2010. He talks about his book, “The Promise,” President Obama, David Axelrod, Rahm Emanuel, FDR, “The Colbert Report,” his wife and even does an imitation of Joe Biden imitating Arkansas Senator John McClellan. Classic stuff!