Thursday, April 21, 2011

Two peas in a pod

"My experiences at Princeton have made me far more aware of my 'blackness' than ever before. I have found that at Princeton, no matter how liberal and open-minded some of my white professors and classmates try to be toward me, I sometimes feel like a visitor on campus; as if I really don't belong."

"Regardless of the circumstances under which I interact with whites at Princeton, it often seems as if, to them, I will always be black first and a student second."

"And in my own life, in my own small way, I've tried to give back to this country that has given me so much. That's why I left a job at a law firm for a career in public service, working to empower young people to volunteer in their communities. Because I believe that each of us - no matter what our age or background or walk of life - each of us has something to contribute to the life of this nation."

"I stand here today at the crosscurrents of that history - knowing that my piece of the American dream is a blessing hard won by those who came before me."

These are noteworthy quotes from Michele Obama. Her experiences at Princeton come about because Princeton is dominated by liberals. No wonder she is resentful and like most blacks, even though she has experienced the hypocrisy of white liberalism, she, herself, is a liberal. I went to the University of Georgia entering as its first male black freshman. I found out quickly that many of the liberals tried to be my friend but often it proved false. What they were doing was demonstrating how liberal they were. They soon disappeared into their own little clique where they could tell each other how enlightened they were. Although I had liberal friends, the vast majority probably vote Republican today or are members of the Tea Party. They found that we had something in common or simply fell into a friendship that neither of us could explain. They gave up many of their white friends, suffered insults and lost roommates. Yet they were my friends even though some of them were not friends to each other. Poor Michele Obama. She should have gone to Ole Miss.

Maybe the liberals at Princeton are responsible for her warped view of contributing to society. She is saying that the contributions of those working in not-for-profits is somehow superior to those working in profit making enterprises. Nothing could be further from the truth. Profit making enterprises enable the not-for-profits to survive. Meeting consumer demands, innovating, entrepreneurship, risk taking, investing, economic growth are all vital parts of producing prosperity. A society is measured by how well off are its poorest quintile. In other countries that US quintile would be considered either middle class or better. If students took Michele Obama's advice we would all be worse off and poorer (not richer) for it.

Lastly, when she talks about standing at the crosscurrents of history knowing that "my piece of the American dream is a blessing hard won by those who came before me" I feel the same way although I suspect we are talking about two different things. She is likely talking about all those who sacrificed before and during the civil rights movement to force a sea change in American life. Read Taylor Branch's Parting the Waters and you too will be inspired by the bravery of Americans both black and white. However, when I say something similar, I am not just talking about coming "up from slavery". I am also talking about the sacrifices and bravery of my fellow Americans from George Washington, George Washington Carver and Booker T. Washington. Of Alexander Hamilton, Hamilton Holmes and Alex Haley. From Thomas Paine to Clarence Thomas. From John Wesley Powell to Colin Powell. To the black Americans who fought alongside whites in every war from Bunker Hill to Afghanistan. To all those American brothers and sisters of all colors, I give my deepest gratitude for indeed "my piece of the American dream is a blessing hard won by those who came before me".

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