Thursday, February 28, 2008

Obama and Farrakhan are not related

I'm getting a fair number of hits from google searches on Obama and Farrakhan leading to this article. I wasn't as adamant as many people who attacked journalist Richard Cohen when he wrote an article called "Obama's Farrakhan Test." Partly, I focused more on objecting to the ways in which Cohen was being attacked, which often centered on his Jewishness. Also, I wasn't as adamant because the situation was a bit different then. Obama's pastor had just endorsed Farrakhan, and I thought there was some room to disagree on how strongly that linked Obama, even though no one seriously thought they hold similar views, to Farrakhan. But, since it was clear that Obama didn't share Obama's opinions about Jews, I did side with those who said Cohen's article smacked of McCarthyism and racism.

At this point, there is no further excuse for asking Obama about Farrakhan, and to do so is no longer understandable. It's just plain racist.

Yes, Farrakhan has a terribly ugly side. He's a bigot. But he is a more complicated figure in the black community (where his good and bad sides are understandably weighed a bit differently than I would), and it is unfair to ask anyone to denounce the entirety of his being. It is especially unfair now that Obama has made his own views crystal clear and even gone so far as to speak out specifically against antisemitism in the black community.

On the most basic level, Obama and Farrakhan have only two things in common. They're both black, and they're both opposed to racism against blacks. To insist on an inability to distinguish between them based on just that is to insist that all blacks are alike. And that's just plain racist.

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