Day By Day

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Shelby Steele on Obama

One of the most interesting writers on race relations in America is Shelby Steele, winner of the National Book Critic's Circle Award, currently a Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford. He has produced a book that attempts to define the historical importance of the Obama campaign. In Barak Obama, he argues, Americans for the first time have an opportunity to escape from the stereotypical relationships that have dominated our civil discourse for more than half a century.

George Will summarizes:

In "A Bound Man: Why We Are Excited About Obama and Why He Can't Win," Steele, of Stanford's Hoover Institution, argues that Obama "embodies" -- an apposite word -- the idea that race can be "a negligible human difference." His candidacy asks America to complete its maturation as a society free from all "collective chauvinisms" about race.
Read Will's review of Steele's book here.

This is a daring and exciting vision, one that in no small part explains the enthusiastic reception Obama has received from both Black and White Americans. It also explains why this campaign is so important. It does not, however, provide much reason to elect this young and untried person to the presidency.