OPRAH & OBAMA: OUCH
I was surprised by the restraint in Patricia J. Williams’s explanations for why America feels there’s something not quite fair about Oprah endorsing Obama [“Diary of a Mad Law Professor,” Dec. 24]. She almost identifies the more insidious motivation when she suggests we’re uncomfortable with Oprah getting political. But it’s not just about her getting political; it’s whom she’s getting political with. Williams suggests that part of the appeal of the “double O’s” is that we trust them. I would submit that half of the attraction is that we flatter ourselves by believing they would trust and like us in return. That illusion is shattered for a huge portion of Oprah’s audience because by endorsing Obama she has revealed the obvious, the barrier that they’re afraid would keep her from being their friend: she’s black. These folks feel betrayed because she is very publicly reminding them of something they’ve been working very hard to forget.
As a black man, I have so longed to have Obama be the real deal. But, alas, he ain’t. His signal of support for the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism bill, aka the Thought Crimes bill or the Police State bill, shattered my illusions. My “black” candidate is Dennis Kucinich.
I am perhaps one of the few African-Americans who is not a fan of Oprah or Obama. Nevertheless, I was captivated by this column. Patricia Williams, you represent well.
RON & GORB: BEYOND THE FREEZE?
Jonathan Schell is one of my heroes, but he joins aging cold war hawks in attempting to rewrite history [“The Old and New Shapes of Nuclear Danger,” Dec. 24]. Reagan’s legacy should be viewed in terms of what he did during his eight years rather than by selectively recounting his abolitionist rhetoric.
Reagan pushed for the MX missile system. But Congress, empowered by the nuclear freeze movement, defeated it–reputedly the first major presidentially sponsored weapons system ever to fail to win funding. The military contractors were in shock. SDI was the stepchild of this defeat. It was sold to the public as a shield against Soviet attack; the universal ridicule by scientists was muffled by promises of hefty R&D grants. It was a hare-brained scheme with only one purpose: maintaining the flow of public money to the military corporations Reagan viewed as his primary constituency.
Sharing SDI technology with the Soviets was always patently absurd–how could Reagan make promises on behalf of some future administration? When had the United States ever shared vital defense technology with an adversary? The USSR could never afford to build it anyway!