Dr. Anne Wortham wrote "No He Can't," an editorial critical of Barack Obama.
Anne Wortham is Associate Professor of Sociology at Illinois State
University and continuing Visiting Scholar at Stanford University 's
Hoover Institution. She is a member of the American Sociological
Association and the American Philosophical Association. She has been a
John M. Olin Foundation Faculty Fellow, and honored as a Distinguished
Alumni of the Year by the National Association for Equal Opportunity in
Higher Education. In fall 1988 she was one of a select group of
intellectuals who were featured in Bill Moyer's television series, "A
World of Ideas." The transcript of her conversation with Moyers has been
published in his book, "A World of Ideas."
Dr. Wortham is author of "The Other Side of Racism: A Philosophical Study
of Black Race Consciousness" which analyzes how race consciousness is
transformed into political strategies and policy issues. She has
published numerous articles on the implications of individual rights for
civil rights policy and is currently writing a book on theories of social
and cultural marginality.
Recently, she has published articles on the significance of
multiculturalism and Afrocentricism in education, the politics of
victimization and the social and political impact of political
correctness. Shortly after an interview in 2004, she was awarded tenure.
This article by her is something-special.
Please know: I am Black; I grew up in the segregated South. I did not vote
for Barack Obama; I wrote in Ron Paul's name as my choice for president.
Most importantly, I am not race conscious. I do not require a Black
president to know that I am a person of worth, and that life is worth
living. I do not require a Black president to love the ideal of America.
I cannot join you in your celebration. I feel no elation. There is no
smile on my face. I am not jumping with joy. There are no tears of triumph
in my eyes. For such emotions and behavior to come from me, I would have
to deny all that I know about the requirements of human flourishing and
survival - all that I know about the history of the United States of
America, all that I know about American race relations, and all that I
know about Barack Obama as a politician.
I would have to deny the nature of the "change" that Obama asserts has
come to America.
Most importantly, I would have to abnegate my certain understanding that
you have chosen to sprint down the road to serfdom that we have been on
for over a century. I would have to pretend that individual liberty has no
value for the success of a human life. I would have to evade your
rejection of the slender reed of capitalism on which your success and mine
depend. I would have to think it somehow rational that 94 percent of the
12 million Blacks in this country voted for a man because he looks like
them (that Blacks are permitted to play the race card), and that they were
joined by self-declared "progressive" whites who voted for him because he
doesn't look like them.
I would have to wipe my mind clean of all that I know about the kind of
people who have advised and taught Barack Obama and will fill posts in his
administration - political intellectuals like my former colleagues at
Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government.
I would have to believe that "fairness" is the equivalent of justice. I
would have to believe that man who asks me to "go forward in a new spirit
of service, in a new service of sacrifice" is speaking in my interest. I
would have to accept the premise of a man that economic prosperity comes
from the "bottom up," and who arrogantly believes that he can will it into
existence by the use of government force. I would have to admire a man who
thinks the standard of living of the masses can be improved by destroying
the most productive and the generators of wealth.
Finally, Americans, I would have to erase from my consciousness the scene
of 125,000 screaming, crying, cheering people in Grant Park, Chicago
irrationally chanting "Yes We Can!" Finally, I would have to wipe all
memory of all the times I have heard politicians, pundits, journalists,
editorialists, bloggers and intellectuals declare that capitalism is
dead - and no one, including, and, especially Alan Greenspan, objected to
their assumption that the particular version of the anti-capitalistic
mentality that they want to replace with their own version of
anti-capitalism is anything remotely equivalent to capitalism.
So you have made history, Americans. You and your children have elected a
Black man to the office of the president of the United States, the wounded
giant of the world. The battle between John Wayne and Jane Fonda is over -
and that Fonda won. Eugene McCarthy and George McGovern must be very happy
men. Jimmie Carter, too. And the Kennedys have at last gotten their
Kennedy look-a-like. The self-righteous welfare statists in the suburbs
can feel warm moments of satisfaction for having elected a Black person.
So, toast yourselves: 60s countercultural radicals, 80s yuppies and 90s
bourgeois bohemians. Toast yourselves, Black America . Shout your glee
Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Duke, Stanford, and Berkeley. You have elected,
not an individual who is qualified to be president, but a Black man who,
like the pragmatist Franklin Roosevelt, promises to — Do Something! You
now have someone who has picked up the baton of Lyndon Johnson's Great
Society. But you have also foolishly traded your freedom and mine - what
little there is left - for the chance to feel good.
There is nothing in me that can share your happy obliviousness.
The above-reproduced editorial, which commonly appears under the title "No He Can't," is a November 2008 piece
Wortham, an Associate Professor of Sociology at Illinois State University and a visiting scholar at Stanford University's Hoover Institution.