Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Huckabee Emerges

Mike Huckabee is getting some favorable play over at The Daily Kos because of his attempt to see the Rev. Wright with charitable eyes. He’s not eliciting much sympathy, however, from some conservative commentators--like Laura Ingraham--who takes the view that his remarks on Joe Scarborough’s show are something people of a younger generation cannot process. She sees it as a scolding that is not relevant to today’s world. Something that we might visit in a museum. "We’re so over [race] now," she said this morning. In a way, I think both are right.

I am no great fan of Mike Huckabee’s and I’ve never tried to hide the fact here, but I think his remarks about Wright represent the views of most thoughtful and decent people who witnessed (whether in person or in absentia) the horrors and injustice of a bygone era. Like Obama, they ask us to understand the anger. Dennis Miller expressed something similar recently when he said that when he looked at Wright he saw a grumpy old Marine who had been called the "N" word too many times. To be clear . . . Miller did not say that this excused his behavior nor--I think--did Huckabee.

Understanding and expressing sympathy for emotions such as anger is a helpful thing to do in our personal relationships. Between friends, family, and potential friends understanding and sympathizing with the root of someone’s anger can facilitate forgiveness, healing and stronger ties of union. But I am dubious about the necessity of doing this on a political or even a public level--particularly when the anger is not fresh. Put another way, I wouldn’t mind having a long one on one conversation with the Rev. Wright about his anger and the opinions he holds stemming from that anger. In such a context, I might even forgive him his anger--though I doubt I would in all things excuse or respect every opinion that was borne of it. On the other hand, I see no reason why we should elevate such sentiments to the level of a public discourse. Anger may be interesting and it’s a fair thing to note it, but it’s not always relevant. It becomes less and less relevant (as most fleeting things do) as it ages. In America, anger is not an inheritance. At least it shouldn’t be. This is why people like Ingraham (and me) who did not live through the Civil Rights movement look sometimes with amazement upon all the talk of race in this country. Folks who did live through it and are scarred by it (on either side of the line) are wrong to get indignant and say we’re naive because of it. From our point of view, the battle is more or less over and won. We have to wonder why, sometimes, you seem to want it to linger.

Discussions - 7 Comments

I saw Huckabee's generous response on Youtube. He shouldn't be criticized for it.

As for Rev. Wright, perhaps he can be persuaded (though I have my doubts) that his righteous indignation is debased when he mixes it with tinfoil hat stuff like that about the invention of the AIDS virus as an instrument of genocide.

I recognize that wishing the past would just be past (and forgotten) is a quintessentially American approach to life, but the rootlessness to which it gives rise is problematical for a variety of reasons. And the assumption that, whether or not it's desirable, it's possible has led to more misapprehensions of our interlocutors all over the world than I'm capable of counting.

I recognize that wishing the past would just be past (and forgotten) is a quintessentially American approach to life, but the rootlessness to which it gives rise is problematical for a variety of reasons. Agreed. But this is why both Huck and Ingraham are right. And this is also why it's problematic to talk about anger and other feelings too much in public. We cannot divorce ourselves from emotion or history. But we're wrong if we allow ourselves to be driven exclusively by them. The question is less "Does emotion and history influence our politics?" and more "How much should they?"

On the other hand, I see no reason why we should elevate such sentiments to the level of a public discourse.

I'm doubtful about this sentiment, Julie. I suspect you are missing a very necessary, and very public discussion that must be had in the black community -- remember, this isn't just about the white community and a national discussion on this topic cannot be a discussion of generic application.

This is why people like Ingraham (and me) who did not live through the Civil Rights movement look sometimes with amazement upon all the talk of race in this country. Folks who did live through it and are scarred by it (on either side of the line) are wrong to get indignant and say we’re naive because of it. From our point of view, the battle is more or less over and won. We have to wonder why, sometimes, you seem to want it to linger.

Take a walk in young Black America, Julie. Immerse yourself in that world, even if from afar. I think you'll change your mind on this point. I suspect your point is much more correct, that this issue is more or less over

(although . . . less, not more)

in the white community. It may even be accurate with most other racial or ethnic minorities in America. Sadly, this is not the case in Black America. Not even close. For some very good and some very bad reasons.

From our point of view, the battle is more or less over and won.

Agreed. At 39, I have met very few ideologically committed racists, and these had zero influence on those around them, let alone society at large. Not being racist is about the only thing 99.999% of folks agree on. I am not responsible for the sins of my fathers, no matter how "angry" some might be at them.

Sadly, this is not the case in Black America. Not even close.

Which is true. About the only place in America that racism is widely accepted is "Black America". Shame on them for being so profoundly stubborn in their error. Good for us that we acknowledge some sources of this situation, but don't succumb to it (except when we over compensate with quotas, etc.). Shame on the Dem's for playing the race card for their own gain...

Understanding and expressing sympathy for emotions such as anger is a helpful thing to do in our personal relationships.

Why not in politics? One of Lincoln's great attributes-politically-was his sympathy. Sadly, modern conservatives seem to have forgotten.

Julie, you're being far too charitable to a monster. Perhaps it's the Easter Season colouring your assessment of the "Reverend" Wright, but the truth is that Wright is an honest-to-God Black separatist/supremacist. It has nothing to do with his own historical baggage; it has everything to do with the malevolence that lurks in the depth of his very dark soul. The guy is a monster, and Barack Hussein Obama stands rightly and justly in the dock for associating himself, for associating his wife, and what's worse, associating his children with such a hate-filled monster.

I always knew that Barack Hussein Obama's true inclinations would ooze to the fore. Always knew it. Never doubted it. Even the Democrats are are beginning to distance themselves from Obama's false messianism, and are making their escape by slipping outside the side door.

Politically, Clint, Lincoln's sympathy was only the first part of his "one-two" intellectual punch. Understanding anger and emotion is essential if you want to move people beyond it. But the object must be to move beyond it--the follow through of Lincoln's punch. If your object is only to wallow in or excuse anger, then your sympathy is misplaced. It will have bad consequences you cannot contain. Anger can be a useful emotion and sometimes it is justly felt. But if it is not ordered by something higher than itself, it is dangerous. It ought never to be emboldened in its own right. That said, I agree with you that many of today's conservatives lack Lincoln's sympathy. This is why they're sucking pond water as our old friend likes to say.

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