Much progress has been made in combatting racial discrimination over the past 40 years. Of course, we still have a long ways to go.
Sadly to say, even on a Democratic partisan message board, one finds race being discussed as a factor in choosing our nominee. This is doubly sad because it is ILLEGAL for private employers to use such reasoning themselves.
Don't just believe me. Believe that paragon of progressive virtue, the Bush administration.
More below the fold.
There have been too many comments (and any more than zero is too many) comments that say something like this:
Obama? he's black, and unfortunately in today's America, THAT means you're unelectable. Obama's rhetoric already indicates he's not going to accomplish anything of significance.
Obama is unelectable simply because he is black. I live in the South, and I know it for a fact. No southern state majority will vote for Obama, and most Western states won't either.
The nub: Obama is black, therefore he can't win the general election, therefore we should nominate someone else.
I am not going to give these posters' names, or say which candidate they support. That is besides the point.
The point is ending racial discrimination and our duty as progressives.
Let us start with a threshold question:
What is racial discrimination?
Some would argue that it only involves discriminating against blacks, Jews, Muslims, etc because one is personally biased against blacks, Jews, Muslims etc.
In other words, if you have a practical reason to not hire blacks, Jews, or Muslims, then it's not really discrimination.
There's one problem with this.
The law says something different. As it should, because then such 'practical' reasons become the exception that swallows the rule. It allows racists to discriminate not because they're racists (heaven forbid) but because those other people are racist.
Here is what the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, under the Bush administration, says on the matter:
Customer preference is never a justification for a discriminatory practice. Refusing to hire someone because customers or co-workers may be "uncomfortable" with that person's religion or national origin is just as illegal as refusing to hire that person because of religion or national origin in the first place. Similarly, an employer may not fire someone because of religion and/or national origin. This prohibition applies to other employment decisions as well, including promotion, transfers, work assignments and wages.
If you discriminate because of concerns for 'customer preference' the EEOC will nail your hide to the wall:
The owner of senior communities in 14 states will pay $650,000 to settle a race discrimination suit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. The EEOC charged that a Fort Wayne senior community refused to hire African Americans and members of other racial groups for many years. The agency also said the facility failed to keep employment records, specifically application papers, as required by law. . . .
According to the EEOC's lawsuit, Civil Action No. 1:05-CV-004, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, Fort Wayne Division, Georgetowne Place, owned and operated by Seattle-based Merrill Gardens LLC, perpetrated a pattern and practice of shunning minorities because of their race and/or color. During the EEOC's investigation, Carol Felger, the former general manager for Georgetowne Place, stated that residents at the facility preferred white employees, and did not want minorities to come into their rooms. . . .
"Employers should know," said Danny Harter, Director of the EEOC's Indianapolis District Office, "that supposed customer preference is no excuse to violate federal anti-discrimination statutes. Even if customers might prefer to be served by individuals who are a particular race or color or sex-or someone who is younger or does not have a disability-the employer is not entitled to commit discrimination."
To make things clear: If you refuse to hire or promote someone because you anticipate a racist reaction to them, you are legally a racist and George W. Bush's administration will come down on you like a ton of bricks.
Now, one would think that we as progressives would hold ourselves to a higher standard than Bush holds private employers.
And we need to.
Because, if we allow the racism of those other people to guide our decisions, then we are not only part of the solution to racial inequality, we are part of the problem.
Can a black man win? Well, he certainly can't if so-called progressives refuse to give any black man a chance. An African-American has never been elected president before? Well, no one's given an African-American a chance before.
There are plenty of valid reasons to oppose an Obama nomination. Too liberal. Not liberal enough. Not experienced enough. Not partisan enough. Too nice. Takes the wrong position on __ issue. Doesn't show enough leadership.
However, the argument that he's a black man and that means that those other people won't vote for him and therefore we need to nominate someone else is not only invalid, it's anti-progressive and immoral.
And, by the way, for those who say "but we can't just ignore reality!": Show me your proof that Obama can't win. Show me your proof that a black man can't win. And don't tell me it's because it's never been done before.