Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Issue Is Color

The headline in the NYT today reads: “Many Florida Jews Express Doubts on Obama” Two women having brunch in Boynton Beach were quoted in the article. Both are 83 years old. Ms Weitz said, “The people here, liberal people, will not vote for Obama because of his attitude towards Israel. “They’re going to vote for McCain,” she said. Ms Grossman didn’t disagree that Florida Jews would not vote for Obama. But her reasoning was different from Ms. Weitz. “They’ll pick on the minister thing, they’ll pick on the wife, but the major issue is color,” she said. Ms Grossman will probably vote for Obama she said. But she is keeping her mouth shut about that. I heard a woman here in Philadelphia say she couldn’t vote for a man whose name was so close to Osama. The color element in this election is sticky. We’ll never know how many people boasted they had no problem voting for a black man when they had no intention of voting for a black man. But it sounded good at the time. How many people will carry their racism to the extent that they will vote for McCain rather than vote black? Probably not a huge percentage. The NYT says Jews account for 5 percent of the vote in Florida. And, as Ms Weitz and Ms Grossman can attest, not all Florida Jews will vote for McCain. Besides, it is difficult to come up with plausible reasons to vote for McCain that would adequately cover up innate racism. Also, antipathy regarding color has more resonance with senior citizens than it does with young voters. But color is a factor in this election and it may represent an obstacle for Obama in the next four years. If Obama is the Democrat Party’s candidate and wins, how many in Congress will oppose his policies because he’s black? We don’t know. The interesting thing is that most white people do not know the extent of their racism. It can’t be reasoned away with logic, but it’s there, in the background, underneath, nearly forgotten and hidden. And like a successful nose job, you can forget what it looked like until a reminder rises up from the past. If ever there was a moment to GET OVER IT, it is now. In our world today, color is irrelevant.

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