Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Your Black World: Racists Find Refuge In Obama -- By Glen Ford

Pandering to Racists

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

"Those who attempt to discredit the Bradley Effect are, in reality, seeking to declare racism in America a non-issue."

With unseemly haste, the corporate media consensus seems to have rushed to the conclusion that the so-called "Bradley Effect" is a myth; that white covert racism will not be a significant factor on November 4, and that the polls are accurately reflecting a looming landslide for Barack Obama.

Obama may, indeed, win by a landslide, but such an outcome most certainly would not signal that race and racism are no longer huge factors in American political life in general, or in this election cycle, in particular. Indeed, the zeal with which corporate pundits seek to declare the end of race as a defining element of U.S. politics serves only to confirm its overarching presence in the political culture.

The Bradley Effect refers to the tendency of some whites to lie to pollsters about their intentions to vote for a Black candidate. Not only is it asserted that the Bradley Effect is no longer operative - that whites are telling pollsters the truth this time around - but some pundits claim that the phenomenon is an urban legend. As a journalist since 1970, I have observed "The Effect" in action on many occasions, with white votes for Black candidates in local races consistently lower than the polls predicted. The Bradley Effect is an historical reality, one that every political campaign in racially mixed jurisdictions has taken into account. Those who attempt to discredit the Bradley Effect are, in reality, seeking to declare racism in America a non-issue, unworthy of further attention. They have seized on Barack Obama's campaign as proof that Black agitation is outdated and even harmful to the national interest.

"Barack Obama is successful because he coddles racists."

Obama has encouraged whites to believe that, once he is in the White House, Black complaints about racism in public life can be deemed irrelevant; that the long debate over white skin privilege and entrenched institutional racism will be over. The most shameless proponent of this baseless notion is Frank Rich, a supposedly liberal columnist for the New York Times. In a piece titled "In Defense of White Americans," Rich cites Obama's high polling marks as sufficiently compelling to declare that "It's past time to come to the unfairly maligned white America's defense." Rich ridicules the idea that "a black guy is doomed among Reagan Democrats, Joe Sixpacks, rednecks, Joe the Plumbers or whichever condescending term you want to choose."

Well, Rednecks, Reagan Democrats and all kinds of racists may well vote for Obama. He has praised their hero, Ronald Reagan, effectively declaring that the world-class race-baiter wasn't a racist, after all. Obama has blamed his own former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and every other Black that complains about racism for creating harmful diversions that stand in the way of solving the nation's "real" problems. Barack Obama is successful because he coddles racists, in hopes of getting their vote. But a Black candidate's willingness to malign other Blacks and pander to racists does not signal the end of racism. Rather, it confirms that race is central to U.S. political life. Racists can vote for Obama, and feel good about themselves. But you won't find me celebrating.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.comThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

Originally Appeared on Black Agenda Report

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