Obama and America’s dirty laundry

The Farmers for Obama headquarters in Vincennes, Ind., was vandalized on the eve of that state's May 6 primary.

With the Alvin Clay trial just two weeks away, I haven’t had much time for topical blogging.  But this story in the Washington Post is too important to pass over. 

Barack Obama has done everything in his power to sidestep the race issue, but it keeps tracking him down.  The more overt acts of racial hatred cited in this illuminating piece are symptomatic of a much deeper problem. 

Many have attributed Obama’s difficulties with certain sectors of the white electorate to the emergence of Rev. Jeremiah Wright or to the candidates unfortunate allusion to bitter voters clinging to guns and religion.  But why have so many white voters latched onto side issues that have generally been pushed aside by black Americans and suburban whites?

Barack Obama doesn’t stand a chance in little towns like Tulia, Texas and Jena, Louisiana; and for precisely the same reason that black defendants face an uphill struggle in these communities.  Call it racism, bigotry, or merely a problem stepping out of America’s racist shadow–it’s real.  You just feel the ambivalence to people of color in these places.

America has come a long way in the past forty years, true enough.  Mr. Obama is right to criticize his former pastor for suggesting otherwise.  But we aren’t even half way toward the goal of full racial equality.  That Barack Obama could win thirty of the fifty contests held thus far shows how far we have traveled.  That his field workers confront gross racism on a daily basis demonstrates how far we have to go.

When Alvin Clay goes to trial on May 27th, the composition of the jury will be all-important.  Jurors who see Barack Obama as a radical, America-hating Muslim will convict Mr. Clay no matter how shoddy the evidence.  I’ve seen it done.  That’s why I will be in Little Rock when the deal goes down.

Alan Bean