Obama Speaks: “Oh Great White Masters, You Just Haven’t Been Asked to Help America”


I believe all of you are as open and willing to listen as anyone else in America. I believe you care about this country and the future we are leaving to the next generation. I believe your work to be a part of building a stronger, more vibrant, and more just America. I think the problem is that no one has asked you to play a part in the project of American renewal.


-  Barack Obama, speaking to the masters of “American” finance capitalism at the headquarters of NASDAQ, Wall Street, New York City, September 17, 2007



For years I labored with the idea of reforming the existing institutions of society, a little change here, a little change there. Now I feel quite differently.  I think you’ve got to have a reconstruction of the entire society…a radical redistribution of political and economic power.


- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., May 1967



Obama is deeply conservative.


- Larissa MacFarquhar, “The Conciliator,” The New Yorker. May 2007. 






Maybe it’s because Barack Obama and his handlers are sensitive to the need to reassure ruling forces that the “first black United States president” will not challenge existing hierarchies. Maybe it’s because he’s bought and paid for by big money (1).  Or maybe it’s because he believes in his “deeply conservative” (2) heart that good Americans show deep respect for their socioeconomic masters.  Whatever the explanation, I’ve never seen an avowedly “progressive” political candidate more eager than Obama to display his deep willingness to obsequiously kiss the ring of dominant political and economic authority. For someone who is marching across Iowa and New Hampshire calling working- and middle-class American to “get fired up” and “stand up” for democracy (and for him), Obama sure likes to spend a lot of time groveling  before supposed white and upper-class superiors.




We know that the technically black Obama has political reasons to avoid threatening the white electoral majority. Still it is too much for him to absurdly claim, in his power-adoring 2006 campaign book The Audacity of Hope (3), that “what ails working- and middle-class blacks and Latinos is not fundamentally different from what ails their white counterparts”(Obama 2006, p. 245).   Also rather audacious is Obama’s praise of the U.S. for historically possessing “an economic system that, more than any other, has offered opportunity to all comers regardless of status, title or rank”(Obama 2006, pp. 231-232)  – including apparently the many millions of black chattel “comers” who came in chains, carrying literally subhuman “status.”  Just to make sure that no Caucasians fear he’s about reawaken the tragically unfinished revolutions of Reconstruction and the Civil Rights Movement, Obama calms white anxieties further by claiming that black Americans (who suffer from a median household wealth gap of seven cents on the white dollar in the 21st century United States) have been “pulled into the economic mainstream” (Obama, 2006, pp. 248-49). 


He also apologizes for whites’ indifference to the persistence of profound racial inequality and discrimination in the U.S (see Street.2007c and Brown 2003) by explaining that “white guilt has largely exhausted itself in America” as “even the most fair-minded of whites…tend to push back against suggestions of racial victimization and race-based claims based on the history of racial discrimination in this country” (Obama 2006, p. 247). This statement of understanding toleration for white racism-denial deftly consigns racial oppression to the supposedly finished past, cleverly deleting its continuing and deeply cumulative (Brown 2003) relevance in the living historical present (4).  





The self-described “American exceptionalist” Obama has obvious political reasons to try to bring to his campaign as much of the imperial U.S. foreign policy establishment as he can. Still, it is a bit much to hear him “ponder” with a sense of awe “the work” of imperial U.S. Cold War architects George Kennan and George Marshall (Obama 2006, p. 36).  Is it really essential for him to applaud the wonderful (he thinks) “post-[World] War [Two] leadership of president Truman, Dean Acheson, George Marshall and George Kennan” for “craft[ing]… a…new…order that married [Woodrow] Wilsonian idealism to hardheaded realism, an acceptance of American power with a humility regarding America’s ability to control events around the world” (Obama 2006, p. 284)? This is a remarkably deferential and whitewashed commentary on such memorable moments in American “humility” as the arch-criminal atom-bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki  (mass-murderous shots across the bow of the emerging Cold War), the mass-murderous U.S. assaults on Korea and Indochina (3 million “enemy” dead), the U.S. restoration of fascist power in “liberated” Italy, the U.S. intervention against popular social revolution in Greece (smeared as a Soviet export by U.S. policymakers in order to “Scare the Hell out of the American people” to garner support for massive new imperial “defense” expenditures)  and the U.S. subversion of democracy and national independence across the planet: Iran (1953), Dominican Republic (1965), Guatemala (1954), Chile (1970-1973), Indonesia (1965) are just some of the more spectacular examples in a list that goes on and on.


John Pilger put the imperial foreign policy essence of the Obama phenomenon in useful context indeed during a speech in Chicago last June (Pilger 2007):


“As for the Democrats, look at how Barack Obama has become the voice of the Council on Foreign Relations, one of the propaganda organs of the old liberal Washington establishment. Obama writes that while he wants the troops home, ‘We must not rule out military force against long-standing adversaries such as Iran and Syria.’ Listen to this from the liberal Obama: ‘At moments of great peril in the past century our leaders ensured that America, by deed and by example, led and lifted the world, that we stood and fought for the freedom sought by billions of people beyond their borders.’ That is the nub of the propaganda, the brainwashing if you like, that seeps into the lives of every American, and many of us who are not Americans. From right to left, secular to God-fearing, what so few people know is that in the last half century, United States administrations have overthrown 50 governments—many of them democracies. In the process, thirty countries have been attacked and bombed, with the loss of countless lives.”





Then there are Obama’s disturbing statements of fawning respect for the predominantly white capitalist economic elite – the top 1 percent that owns more than a third of U.S. wealth and a probably higher percentage of its politicians, policymakers, and opinion-makers.  Given his dependence on super-rich “election investors” to run a viable presidential campaign under the plutocratic rules of the United States’ self-negating “market democracy” (Herman 2007), it’s not surprising that he would wish to avoid offending the nation’s leading corporate power-brokers. But Obama goes beyond the call of class-deferential duty when he praises the arch-plutocratic Ronald Reagan for embodying “American’s longing for order” (Obama 2006, p. 31) and when he pens the following nauseating paean to aristocratic rule in The Audacity of Hope:   “The Founders recognized that there were seeds of anarchy in the idea of individual freedom, an intoxicating danger in the idea of equality, for if everybody is truly free, without the constraints of birth or rank and an inherited social order…how can we ever hope to form a society that coheres?” (Obama 2006, pp. 86-87).  How’s that for commitment to the democratic and egalitarian ideals to which the United States so often lays special claim?





Equally sickening is Obama’s eagerness to praise the glories of the capitalist system that produces grotesque fortunes at the top of America’s “inherited social order” while tens of millions of Americans go without adequate food, clothing, shelter, and health insurance.  One key question addressed in The Audacity of Hope comes straight out of the neoconservative world view Obama was so good at accommodating at Harvard Law: what makes the United States so “exceptionally” wonderful?  Obama finds part of the answer to this nationally narcissistic query in the wise and benevolent leadership of the nation’s great white Founders and subsequent supposedly sensible leaders like Harry “Hiroshima” Truman and JFK.  But Obama roots the excellence and eminence of America in something deeper than the magnificence of its political elite.  He also grounds the United States’ supposed distinctive impressiveness in its “free market” capitalist system and “business culture.”


The United States overclass should be gratified by Obama’s paean to the United States’ “free-market” system of (in reality state- and corporate-) capitalism (Obama 2006, pp. 149-150):


“Calvin Coolidge once said that ‘the chief business of the American people is business,’ and indeed, it would be hard to find a country on earth that’s been more consistently hospitable to the logic of the marketplace.  Our Constitution pl

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