Saturday, October 10, 2009

Daily Kos Reader: Progressive Criticism of Obama's Nobel Prize = Racism!

This is this ultimate GIVE ME A BREAK thread. I was skimming through Daily Kos and discovered this whopper in a diary written by "pvlb":
Apparently, among "progressives" unless the African American President of the United States of America does not satisfy the very exacting specifications of each individual's idea of what should be done, he is a sell-out do-nothing.

There's no conclusive way of determining what's at the root of that, but as I thought about it, I did come to an excruciating, embarrassing, and sad end to my contemplation.

As my mental wanderings led me down path after path in trying to find an explanation, I came to dead end after dead end. Only one seemed to provide any possibility of an explanation. Regretfully, I concluded that even among progressives, this is a racial thing. Even for them, President Obama has got to do more, do it better and in less time than anyone else on the planet, in order to prove that he is 'worthy' of the presidency, or our support or the Nobel Peace Prize . . . .
Normally, when I am discover such flawed reasoning, I fall into "teaching mode" and try to approach the proponent with diplomacy. But plvb's argument does not warrant such sympathetic treatment.

Committee Could Have Made a Better Choice
Pvlb's analysis is extraordinarily misguided (but gaining traction on Daily Kos). First, President Obama did not award himself the Nobel Peace Prize. Therefore, criticism of the award, at least from my perspective, is directed towards the prize committee -- not Obama.

Also, there are more deserving people the committee could have selected -- like Representative Barbara Lee, whose actual work embodies an actual commitment to peace. Lee is the only member of Congress who had the courage to oppose the war in Afghanistan in 2001. She has also introduced a measure to deny funding increases for Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama, by contrast, describes the war in Afghanistan as a "just war," and he is currently considering a second troop surge.

Obama's position on Afghanistan does not represent a strong commitment to peace. It certainly does not represent a greater commitment to peace than the advocacy of others -- like Lee. Lee, by the way, is a very progressive -- far more than Obama -- black woman. My argument that Lee is a better candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize than Obama should neutralize plvb's immensely ridiculous claim that progressive criticism of the prize decision (or of Obama's policies) results from racism. Pvlb is so stuck inside of his/her own "contemplation" and "mental wanderings," however, that I am not sure whether he/she will notice this very basic fact.

In addition to escalating the war in Afghanistan, Obama has maintained many of Bush's antiterrorism practices -- like rendition, military tribunals, indefinite detention, and the denial of habeas to certain detainees. When liberals criticized Bush for engaging in these practices, they were not racist. When the few liberals who believe in logical consistency criticize Obama for embracing these same practices, they are still not racist. Furthermore, these policies are inconsistent with the pursuit of peace among nations and people.

Indiscriminate and Unnecessary Use of Race Is Harmful to Racial Discourse
Undoubtedly, some of Obama's critics are racists. But the simplistic and kneejerk equating of criticism of his policies with racism needs to end. This line of analysis began during the Democratic primaries. Committed racial progressives like Sheila Jackson Lee and Maxine Waters were called self-loathing "racists" for supporting Hillary Clinton over Obama. But after he secured the nomination, Obama used the Clintons ("two racists") on the campaign trail, and he chose Hillary as Secretary of State after he was elected.

Ironically, Obama receives vigorous race-based advocacy, but he strives to avoid racial discourse himself. The first and only racial criticism he made as president ended comically with him having a brew with Joe the Cop.

Although Obama runs away from racial issues, many of his most ardent defenders continue to wield "race" as a knife aimed indiscriminately at progressives and conservatives alike. This is an absolutely bankrupt and ultimately unhelpful approach to race relations.

Update: A response to Michael Moore's criticism of Obama's progressive critics: To Michael Moore: Absolutely Not!


RealityZone said...

imho; Obama received this award not for what he has done. Rather for what the world community expects of him in the future. as far as a [race card] is concerned. the only [race card] that should be played, is the race to see how fast we can get out of AQ/AF/PAK/AN.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Reality Zone: Nobel's will says that the award should go to person who has DONE the most to achieve peace, etc. -- not to the most popular figure who talks about peace.

RealityZone said...

DLH; i agree.though looking at some of the past recipients this would not be the case. Their idea of peace is not my idea of peace. Obama has many opportunities and fronts that he can prove himself. Unfortunately too many fuses were left in place for him to extinguish.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

RZ: Obama has always stated that he believed in Afghanistan from the start. This was a core part of his campaign. His anti-war narrative was only directed towards Iraq - not Afghanistan. Many liberals ignored this, and now they say that Afghanistan was Bush's war. Obama, however, said he would have voted for it.

Also, his administration has embraced rendition, military tribunals, indefinite detention and denial of habeas to captives at Bagram, Afghanistan. These are not raging fuses over which he lacks no power. He chose to stay the course.

RealityZone said...

DLH; OH, i totally agree. He even proposed going into Pakistan under the guise of capturing OBL. IMO; His whole foreign policy so far has been W lite. His state dept. is filled with chicken hawks. The Neolibs are now in charge. And i believe they could be worse than the Neocons. The [liberals] were not doing their home work, when Obama had ZBIG, and Albright as his foreign policy advisers. Kissinger slithered into Russia, after Obama became president slipped right past them.

Sue said...

Darren this is a statement from the Norwegian Nobel committee,

This win for President Obama was based on a DECISION DESIGNED TO ENCOURAGE HIS INITIATIVES to reduce nuclear arms, ease tensions with the Muslim world and stress diplomacy and cooperation rather than unilateralism.

I believe RZ's first comment speaks of this statement. Obama has much work to do!!

RealityZone said...

Sue; he had better start chop-chopin. LOL, imo; this is all part of THE NEW ERA that is coming. that is why i titled my new blog A NEW ERA ? He has many foes within his own regime that will hinder any and all significant moves that he makes. Most importantly his rogue state dept. headed by SHILLARY. It is filled with neolib chicken hawks. Global peace has to be nurtured with a new mind set. Not the policy of same old same oil. Occupation, and colonialism will only bring about more agony for all concerned.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Sue/RZ: The statement sounds like it could have been prepared to explain expected questioning of the award. Also, I think it is an odd approach: encourage peaceful practices by giving one of the world's greatest rewards to someone who talks about peaceful practices -- while doing non-peaceful things. Neither the award nor the explanation works for me.

FLRN said...

No Racism here - you are correct Darren. The prize award -potentially misguided and awarded on the "promise" of things to come - seems less valued now in the face making a selection on popularity rather than productivity. Perhaps the explanation statement by the committee was indeed crafted in anticipation of criticism(as you suggest) if so the committee would then also recognize their own need to rationalize their choice. Okay I'll buy that as most likely true - then again maybe the award was really intended to recognized Obama's beer summit with Joe the cop and the Harvard educator....whatever.

On the basis of merit and service, commitment and actions, it seems to me I would much rather obtain the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval than any other sought after Peace Prizw international award like the NPP. If all the chatter and clamor is on target, the scrutiny for the Good House Seal is probably more stringent.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

FLRN: Thanks. Daily Kos is home to a bunch of snots. There are white 20something year olds telling me that I do not understand racism. Great. Let's swap places and let them live with parents who grew up in Jim Crow. That site is largely bankrupt -- full of "more progressive than thou" types (living in denial).

RealityZone said...

DLH; I signed up over there. then i read his [disclaimer]lol. he will ban people from the site at his own discretion if they post [truther] type comments on his site. i have not been back since.

we used to call them " know nothing yuppies} back in the day. yes they have book smarts, but no street smarts. i will take the street any day of the week.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

RZ: We think the same way on the subject of that site. As a professor, I certainly value reading, but the assumptions many people make on that site regarding the educational and lived experiences of others are downright offensive.

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