No He Can't

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Fellow Americans,

know: I am black; I grew up in the segregated South. I did not vote
for Barack Obama; I wrote in Ron Paul's name as my choice for president.
Most importantly, I am not race conscious. I do not require a black
president to know that I am a person of worth, and that life is
worth living. I do not require a black president to love the ideal
of America.

I cannot
join you in your celebration. I feel no elation. There is no smile
on my face. I am not jumping with joy. There are no tears of triumph
in my eyes. For such emotions and behavior to come from me, I would
have to deny all that I know about the requirements of human flourishing
and survival — all that I know about the history of the United States
of America, all that I know about American race relations, and all
that I know about Barack Obama as a politician. I would have to
deny the nature of the "change" that Obama asserts has
come to America. Most importantly, I would have to abnegate my certain
understanding that you have chosen to sprint down the road to serfdom
that we have been on for over a century. I would have to pretend
that individual liberty has no value for the success of a human
life. I would have to evade your rejection of the slender reed of
capitalism on which your success and mine depend. I would have to
think it somehow rational that 94 percent of the 12 million blacks
in this country voted for a man because he looks like them (that
blacks are permitted to play the race card), and that they were
joined by self-declared "progressive" whites who voted
for him because he doesn't look like them. I would have to be wipe
my mind clean of all that I know about the kind of people who have
advised and taught Barack Obama and will fill posts in his administration
— political intellectuals like my former colleagues at the Harvard
University's Kennedy School of Government.

I would
have to believe that "fairness" is equivalent of justice.
I would have to believe that man who asks me to "go forward
in a new spirit of service, in a new service of sacrifice"
is speaking in my interest. I would have to accept the premise of
a man that economic prosperity comes from the "bottom up,"
and who arrogantly believes that he can will it into existence by
the use of government force. I would have to admire a man who thinks
the standard of living of the masses can be improved by destroying
the most productive and the generators of wealth.

Americans, I would have to erase from my consciousness the scene
of 125,000 screaming, crying, cheering people in Grant Park, Chicago
irrationally chanting "Yes We Can!" Finally, I would have
to wipe all memory of all the times I have heard politicians, pundits,
journalists, editorialists, bloggers and intellectuals declare that
capitalism is dead — and no one, including especially Alan
Greenspan, objected to their assumption that the particular version
of the anti-capitalistic mentality that they want to replace with
their own version of anti-capitalism is anything remotely equivalent
to capitalism.

So you
have made history, Americans. You and your children have elected
a black man to the office of the president of the United States,
the wounded giant of the world. The battle between John Wayne and
Jane Fonda is over — and that Fonda won. Eugene McCarthy and George
McGovern must be very happy men. Jimmie Carter, too. And the Kennedys
have at last gotten their Kennedy look-a-like. The self-righteous
welfare statists in the suburbs can feel warm moments of satisfaction
for having elected a black person. So, toast yourselves: 60s countercultural
radicals, 80s yuppies and 90s bourgeois bohemians. Toast yourselves,
Black America. Shout your glee Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Duke, Stanford,
and Berkeley. You have elected not an individual who is qualified
to be president, but a black man who, like the pragmatist Franklin
Roosevelt, promises to — Do Something! You now have someone who
has picked up the baton of Lyndon Johnson's Great Society. But you
have also foolishly traded your freedom and mine — what little there
is left — for the chance to feel good. There is nothing in me that
can share your happy obliviousness.

6, 2008

Wortham [send her mail] is
an individualist liberal who happens to be black and American.

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