At first, as I was reading this latest report by Mark Mardell I was thinking how amazing it was that it was not about this or that candidate, that it wasn’t about some political issue which affects the President, and that he had made a rare excursion outside the campaign trail to discover something else about the US besides political polarization. Here he is, I thought to myself, talking about art and something interesting.
How wrong I was.
In reality, this was Mardell telling you that we need to re-elect the President cos He is black. Aside from any niceties about the artist, Kahinde Wiley, being
used to promote an agenda interviewed about his vision and a brief discussion of his work and what it represents, the message could not be clearer. The editor even has is as the highlight quote:
“I’m looking for a sense of self-possession, a type of swagger, a sense of grace in the world”
Oops, sorry, that was the superficial praise of Him, the revival of the “Oh, look how cool He is,” meme, which has so often passed the lips of Beeboids since He came among us. That’s really all He’s got these days, which is sad. What any of this has to do with running a government I have no idea. But that’s not the point, is it?
The actual quote I’m talking about:
“Obama stands as a signal, that this nation will continue to redefine what it means to push beyond the borders of what’s possible”
See, we must re-elect Him so that other countries think we’re cool. For no reason other than the color of His skin. This is racial thinking, and I object.
The whole thing is really about His race, and about how we need to keep Him in power as a racial symbol. Nothing about His accomplishments, nothing about merit, nothing about ability or achievement. It’s all about race. These are Wiley’s words, not Mardell’s, but it fits in perfectly with Mardell’s own beliefs and the story he wants to tell.
“The reality of Barack Obama being the president of the United States – quite possibly the most powerful nation in the world – means that the image of power is completely new for an entire generation of not only black American kids, but every population group in this nation.”
Yes, it does. We’ve done it. But what does it tell an entire generation of black American kids if we say the only reason to keep the President in power is because He’s black? Do we really tell them that a black person’s only intrinsic value is the color of their skin?
“The way that we’re coded for power has been recontextualised in terms of race. Now there are children who are four or five who would have known only a black man at the seat of power in this nation. It’s an important social message.”
Yes it is. That’s why we elected Him in the first place. Not because we thought His ideas about nationalized health care were so great, not because He was against homosexual marriage at the time, not because we wanted to send George Bush packing, as he wasn’t running for office. We elected The Obamessiah because of the color of his skin, to send that social message. Mostly so the whites among us could pat ourselves on the back more than to actually uplift black people. But why is that a reason to re-elect someone who isn’t up to the job?
I realize that this last question comes from a Right-wing perspective. Mardell, of course, wouldn’t see it that way. As far as He’s concerned, as we’ve seen over an over again from his “reporting”, the main reason The Obamessiah hasn’t been a brilliant President who fixed the economy and saved us all is because He wasn’t allowed to by intransigent Republicans in Congress. So Mardell will see this idea that we will continue to send a positive racial message as mere icing on the cake.
It gets worse:
“There is a cultural shift in the nation that says possibility is not necessary impacted or determined wholly by the colour of your skin.”
Really? Then why is this entire piece about how we must determine our nation’s future wholly by the color of His skin? This doublethink drives me crazy. On the one hand, we’re supposed to accept – which I do – that the election of a black man to the White House means that we have made at least some progress towards seeing beyond skin color, that enough of the country is not as racist as we were led to believe. While on the other hand, we’re supposed to say that we must keep Him in power simply because He’s black. Again, I must point out that there’s nothing here about His character or accomplishments, or trying to prove He’s done a good job and deserves a second term.
“That said, this society has a long way to go, and – as we go through this election cycle – there are echoes of racism that continue to enter and occupy the American imagination.
“There is – and always will be – the legacy of chattel slavery in this nation, an obsession with racial and gender differencec, but I think that, at its best, this nation is capable of creating standards for itself and reaching towards those standards.
“Obama stands as a signal that this nation will continue to redefine what it means to push beyond the borders of what’s possible.”
And so on. There’s quite a bit more on this theme: it’s important to keep a black man in power, regardless of His competence or policies, because the US has an unfortunate history on racial issues.
The BBC has gone from the 2008 election message that if we don’t elect The Obamessiah it’s because we’re racist to saying that any opposition to His policies is based on racism, to how we must re-elect Him because of past racist sins. This really isn’t much of a positive statement about how He’s done as President, is it?
This is all they’ve got. Mardell is dimly aware that the President is going to have a tough time running on His record, which is why the campaign is all about how evil the Republicans are. Mardell simply cannot let go of his racialist views, and so sought out Wiley to use as a tool to promote this message: the US is a racist country, and not only did we have to elect Him to assuage some of that guilt, but we must now re-elect Him because of it.
There can be no other message taken from this. It’s sad not so much because it attempts to dismiss any legitimate objections to the President’s policies and how might govern if given free reign in a second term. It’s sad most of all because this infantilizes black people.
At the end of the day, people of African-American descent are not valued by Mardell or his kind for their character or their accomplishments, but only for the color of their skin. This is racialist thinking, and it’s coming from the BBC’s top man in the US.
If you don’t vote for Him in November, you’re a racist who wants to send the wrong message to black children, and wants to tell the world that we’re not cool, and that there is no longer any Hope. What’s that? You have an objection to one of His policies? Racist!
Think I’m making it up? Seeing something that isn’t there? In his next piece, Mardell says it explicitly:
The core political debate about the redistribution of wealth is sharpened by redistribution to people who “are not like us”.
This is the same slander he babbled to the BBC College of Journalism last year. The rest of the very long outburst is about how this election is all about race, and if we don’t re-elect Him, black children will feel bad.
If, on the other hand, he loses, many African Americans will take it personally, will be worried and hurt, and see the result as another reverse in their long struggle.