Kuhner: Obama’s Black Nationalism

Is President Obama a black nationalist? This goes to the heart of his presidency - and partly explains why Mr. Obama is losing the broad middle of America.

On Easter, Mr. Obama and his family attended Shiloh Baptist Church in Washington. The liberal press corps made much of the fact that the church was founded in 1863 by freed slaves. Yet the church’s pastor, the Rev. Wallace Charles Smith, is a race-baiting black nationalist. He is a more polished version of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, a longtime pastor of Mr. Obama’s.

Mr. Smith lacks the bombast of Mr. Wright but peddles the same philosophy of racialism, grievance-mongering and black victimology. In one of his recent sermons, Mr. Smith argued that institutionalized racism continues. “Anytime a swimming club can deny membership to students simply because they are African-American or Hispanic is an indication that Barack’s presidency does not solve the question of justice in this nation,” he said.

Really? Where and at what institutions are blacks and Hispanics denied access to swimming pools? This is a figment of Mr. Smith’s imagination.

He further stressed that segregation was not really eradicated; rather, it has simply morphed into a more subtle system of racial oppression through conservative talk radio and widespread opposition to affirmative action.

“Now Jim Crow wears blue pinstripes and goes to law school and carries fancy briefs and cases,” Mr. Smith said. “And he doesn’t have to wear white robes anymore because now he can wear the protective cover of talk radio or can get a regular news program on Fox.”

He even compared Rush Limbaugh to the Ku Klux Klan and the White Citizens’ Council. In other words, conservatives - Mr. Obama’s critics - are incorrigibly racist and seek to perpetuate a watered-down form of apartheid. For Mr. Smith and many others on the left, disagreeing with racial quotas is not only wrong, but evil - a manifestation of deep-seated intolerance and bigotry.

The opposite is true: Conservatives are the true heirs of the civil rights movement. They believe in a colorblind society and equality under the law. This is why affirmative action is so pernicious. It has created a racial spoils system whereby groups are systematically pitted against one another: Ethnic revanchism - the obsession with identity - is rampant. Merit no longer is the primary basis for many hiring decisions, university admissions or government contracts. Race, gender and (increasingly) sexual orientation are the new standards.

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