... But racial or identity issues do matter critically these days. The reasons are obvious. Our societies, most especially those of the U.S. and Canada, have never been more diverse. Moreover, as a paradoxical consequence of globalization, it's incomparably easier for newcomers to remain culturally as they were in their "home" countries.
We really are becoming, in Joe Clark's phrase, a "community of communities," but of ethnic ones rather than the traditional regional and local ones he had in mind.
The case example is, of course, the contest for the Democratic presidential nomination between Senator Hillary Clinton and Senator Barack Obama.
One is the female candidate. In Pennsylvania, Clinton won two-thirds of the votes cast by women, doing especially well among older women with personal experiences of past years of gender inequality while younger, post-feminist women tend to lean more to Obama.
Obama's circumstances are more revealing and far more intense. Initially, many African Americans held back from him on the grounds he was "insufficiently black," because his father was Kenyan while his mother was white.
Today, African Americans overwhelmingly support Obama, their move to him being triggered by what seemed to be personal attacks on him made by former president Bill Clinton. (In the same way, women's support for Clinton rises each time she seems to be under attack because of her gender.)
To this comparatively straightforward division of loyalties among different identity groups, there are some subtle complexities.
College-educated whites support Obama by a wide margin. One reason, it's been suggested, is because liberal-minded whites see him as someone who can lift from them their burden of guilt for the long history of racism toward blacks.
At the same time, there's the apparent contradiction that another important group of people of colour, namely Hispanics, strongly favour Clinton rather than Obama. An analysis here is that Hispanic Americans resent the attention and the governmental assistance given to African Americans.
All of this has been made incomparably more intense by the performance of Obama's former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and his incantations about the U.S. "deserving" the 9/11 massacre and about AIDS/HIV as a white plot against blacks. ...
It remains distasteful and exceedingly depressing to admit that all politics may have become racial. And that would be saying far too much. But it may be time to admit that quite often, and more often than we care to recognize, the racial and the local have become one and the same.
Click to view image: '178735-hillary_blacks.jpg'
|Liveleak on Facebook|