A reader writes:
Your Dissent of the Day on Obama irked me enough to write.
"What has Obama done except demonstrate his out-of-control ambition? He was a community organizer but that was in the black community. What he has done for whites?"
I completely disagree with the notions that because someone is interested in helping black people that that is anything less than trying to help a portion of humanity. I can't help but feel that your correspondent is not being honest with him or herself, because if Obama were a huckster like Sharpton, I would understand that trepidation, but with Obama? Really? Was Obama representing only black interests in the Illinois Senate? Was he only teaching about black law as professor of constitutional law? Is he only representing the black people of Illinois in the US Senate? Is his message of transcending differences and hope only about black people? The notion is absurd.
Also, as to the question of Obama's giving back: As head of the Harvard Law Review, he could have completely cashed in after graduating from Harvard Law School. He could have done anything, but what did he choose to do? Help people less fortunate than him, teach, and go into public service. Sounds pretty good to me--like a man who has his priorities straight, like a man who really believes in old-fashioned civics. What your correspondent doesn't seem to understand is that Obama has an interesting combination of communitarian and universal notion of politics, ethics, and society. Going to live in, work with, and help the black community in the South Side of Chicago helped him understand his place in society as a black man. (Also, as you have noticed, so did his conversion to Christianity, which I also see as a conscience choice to join a community whose values he already held. A really mature choice in my viewHitchens et. Al could learn something from that.) Why should resent that? I don't; I admire it. Growing up in Hawaii and Indonesia with a white mother and grandparents, clearly made him wonder about what African Americans were facing in the USA--your correspondent surely doesn't deny that race matters in our societyso it is good that he went out into the world to find out.
In the end, I dissent from and strenously object to these attempts to awaken resentment in me. It is this sort of thing that has traumatized our politics--distracting us from the big questions of the day: global warming, healthcare, torture, the economy, and our civil liberties.