Read this Chicago Sun-Times editorial quickly, then peruse the brief MultiCultClassics commentary immediately following…
Racism debate takes focus off real issues
Jimmy Carter is probably on to something. “There’s an inherent feeling among many people in this country that an African American ought not to be the president,” the former president said last week.
That might help explain why Rep. Joe Wilson tried to shout the president down during his speech to Congress on health care. It might also help explain some of the scary vitriol aimed at Obama during the health-care debates this summer.
But that doesn’t mean we’re due for a national conversation on race.
Obama is keeping his focus where it belongs—on health-care reform.
Wading into the racism debate won’t get health-care reform through Congress. It won’t bridge the partisan divide. It will only distract us—as opponents would love to do—from hammering out a deal on one of the most important challenges of our time.
In the end, a successful Obama presidency—featuring bills to reform health care, stem global warming and improve schools—will do more to counter real racism than anything he or we or you might say now.
Obama loves his “teachable moments,” and he has used them well.
When the Rev. Jeremiah Wright surfaced during the presidential campaign, Obama was right to pause—against the advice of several top aides—to deliver a historic speech on race.
When Obama inelegantly stepped into the middle of a dispute between the Cambridge Police and Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., he was wise to invite both sides to the White House for a beer and a debriefing.
But this is not such a moment.
The charge of racism this time is too much in debate. President Carter holds one view. Plenty of reasonable people hold another.
And the risk of distraction is too high.
There’s something about this editorial that seems cowardly per Eric Holder’s contention. It doesn’t help that the bizarro times present a White President seeing racial bias while the Black President insists it’s not the cause of conflict. And why would it be so difficult to discuss race while also addressing the other issues of the moment?
This stall tactic is so typical on Madison Avenue too, where it’s been executed to perfection since at least the 1930s. As Advertising Week commences, it will be interesting to see how the patronizing prioritizing continues.
Given his political problems, it seems unlikely that New York City Councilman Larry Seabrook will make his annual appearance. Adweek recently published Sanford Moore’s accusations of apartheid, so the fiery activist might be quiet as well. Haven’t heard much from Cyrus Mehri lately either.
Let’s hope the celebrations don’t turn into a staged lovefest via the yearly AAF Mosaic Awards and probable support for the ADCOLOR® Coalition. The Advertising Week schedule includes a handful of events MultiCultClassics will attempt to spotlight in the days ahead—including a diversity soiree sponsored by Draftfcb. Um, Draftfcb hosting a diversity bash is like the KKK partying for Kwanzaa.
MultiCultClassics predicts industry leaders will seek to emphasize the importance of solving agency downsizings, countering reduced client billings and obsessing over the imperative for embracing digital.
As for diversity, well, the risk of distraction is too high.