Hopefully the Obama campaign will end the lie that if you somehow are critical of black people, you'll be criticized as an Uncle Tom. This was always a laughable theory proffered by jokers like Shelby Steele. Jesse, for all his foibles, was one of the loudest voices campaigning against blaxploitation in the 70s. The only people Malcolm X excoriated more than white people, were other black people. I make this point in a piece I just finished for The Atlantic on Cosby. Will obviously link when it's up.
Back to Obama. Check out this piece in the Washington Post in which Obama's relationship with the Jewish community is addressed. One of the great things that Obama has discovered is that you can say the same thing and both white and black people will hear two different things. So when Obama went to Ebeneezer and used all of 10-15 seconds to speak on anti-semitism and homophobia in the black community, white pundits--who tend to believe that before Obama, blacks just sat around patting each other on the back and blaming white people--see a courageous stand. And quite frankly, Obama plays it as such. But black folks just hear a dude expressing his opinion, in much the same way that black folks in private settings tend to generally do. It doesn't sound alien to them. Thus Obama is able to secure white support by appearing to give some ground, when in fact he actually is giving very little ground. Witness the following from none other than the ADL:
To some Jewish leaders, even ones who have remained neutral in the presidential campaign, Obama's struggles are exasperating. Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said yesterday from Jerusalem that Obama has gone much further than other black leaders in his denunciation of Farrakhan and has recently expressed stalwartly pro-Israel views.
"As far as I'm concerned, this issue is behind us," said Foxman, who has not endorsed a candidate. "But with the Internet, as all Jews should know, these things have a half-life. They just keep going."
Remember that Obama has done this while running at near 90 percent in the black community, so this idea that only jokers like Sharpton and Farrakhan have a claim on black folks is stupid. It's amazing that it took a dude running for president to make this clear to media.