Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Pierre Tristam: When America Can't Handle The Truth

"The word, attributed to the late writer Saul Bellow, is “angelization” — willfully putting someone beyond blame. Angelizing America is the common tongue of all national politicians, the oath candidates implicitly take when running for president. It’s what the most sentimental people on Earth expect. It’s what enables a country that committed its share of atrocities in the past and is committing more than its share of moral degradations today to look itself in the mirror and see something exceptional looking back, rather than just another empire trampling down its march of folly, as the great historian Barbara Tuchman called it. Angelizing America is the unspoken, self-evident pledge of allegiance. Someone didn’t tell the Obamas.

First, there was Michelle Obama: “For the first time in my adult life, I am really proud of my country. Not just because Barack is doing well, but I think people are hungry for change.”

Then there was Barack Obama’s spiritual adviser, the fascinating Jeremiah Wright — not the outright lies about Wright’s black separatism, which is bunk (although to most classically illiberal whites any black who adopts the fervor of Emersonian self-sufficiency is suddenly a separatist), but this, from a 2003 sermon: “The government gives (blacks) the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants us to sing ‘God Bless America.’ No, no, no, God damn America, that’s in the Bible for killing innocent people. God damn America for treating our citizens as less than human. God damn America for as long as she acts like she is God and she is supreme.”

Then there was Obama himself, insolently ripping the halo off the romanticized iconography of race in America and returning the matter to the reality of a job undone. That he did so in a 37-minute speech more powerfully essential than anything the incumbent nullity has managed in seven years was bound to inflame those commentators — Shelby Steele, William Kristol, Kathleen Parker, any lips that move at the Fox network — who’ve been outdoing themselves to dig up hollowness at Obama’s core. What they’re digging up instead is his disarming arsenal, an ability to face up to national blights without, like Wright, stopping at the diagnosis.

Obama offers a path to conciliation. The path begins with a willfulness exactly opposite angelization. It begins more along the lines of where a truth commission might begin. That’s Obama’s problem. It’s doubtful whether this country can, in its lethargy for social justice at home and its trances for wars abroad, HANDLE THE TRUTH."

-Pierre Tristam (Published March 25, 2008- Daytona Beach News-Journal ) EXCERPT

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