I’ve got a better idea: let’s don’t.
In most of the country, the conversation isn’t about whether Obama is favoring blacks or whites or anyone else; it’s about whether his stimulus plan can work and whether he’s running too big a deficit.
But that doesn’t mean we don’t also need to talk about racial equality and ethnic diversity. Who could lead such a dialogue in a civilized, useful way? Bill Clinton, who launched a similar conversation in 1997, could help. Gates, the Harvard professor, knows a thing or two. Or Jim Webb, the Democratic senator from Virginia who’s criticized diversity programs for favoring high-income minority candidates over low-income whites. Or Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), one of the surviving heroes of the civil rights movement that made Obama’s presidency possible.
The president doesn’t need to teach on every issue. But on this one, he might consider asking someone else to.
Those last couple of paragraphs tell you all you need to know about the “conversation” Doyle McManus wants us to have. Namely, he doesn’t want a conversation so much as a lecture. “Gates, the Harvard professor, knows a thing or two” about preaching to the racial grievance choir; what he doesn’t know is how to listen, as his encounter with a police officer at his home demonstrated. If you’re looking for someone to “teach” white America about how they’re still keeping the black man down, who better than John Lewis — who has supported a discredited narrative of Tea Partiers screaming the n-word at him, and has not been forced to explain to Big Media why numerous videotapes show that narrative to be false.
I notice that McManus does not suggest J. Christian Adams as someone who might help us lead the conversation. I wonder why not.
These “national conversations on race” always turn out to be a chance for Our Betters to lecture us on our institutional and unconscious racism. I’ll pass, Doyle McManus. I’ve been lectured enough, thank you very much.