Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Only a Select Few Can Be Truly Authentic....

Adam Serwer has some well-deserved fun at The National Review's Victor Davis Hanson's attempt to declare what is and isn't authentically Black (Herman Cain, yes; Barack Obama, no).
Of course, the assumption that it's within Hanson's authority to police whom black people accept as a member of the community is itself a noxious form of paternalism. His argument doesn't actually work if white people don't get to decide for black people what being black means. It is perhaps, the first time ever that someone has argued that being "at ease" with white conservatives is proof of how authentically black you are, but you work with what you got.

The comparison between Cain and Obama isn't so much "volatile" as it is flattering to conservatives who, having latched onto Cain as a racial alibi, an explanation for the fact that the party of Lincoln hasn't broken 20 percent of the black vote since Richard Nixon, desperately need a symbolic figure of racial absolution. The only time conservatives aren't using trite arguments about black authenticity as an explanation for ongoing racial disparities is when they're relying on them to show everyone how well they understand the soul of the Negro. Hanson doesn't bother to explain how it is that the overwhelming majority of black people haven't discerned that Barack Obama is a fraud and that Herman Cain is the second coming of Marcus Garvey, but that's because their "brainwashed" opinions don't actually matter. The sole purpose of establishing Cain's racial authenticity, premised as it is on Hanson's rather limited view of what constitutes "the black experience," is for Hanson to flatter himself and his ideological allies as racially enlightened.

As we know, the relevant locus point for thinking about Blackness in America is a Black politician whose support amongst the Black community hovers around the Planck Constant.

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