Oreo: McLaughlin's Obama Slur

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McLaughlin: "Question: Does it frost Jackson, Jesse Jackson, that someone like Obama, who fits the stereotype blacks once labeled as an Oreo -- a black on the outside, a white on the inside -- that an Oreo should be the beneficiary of the long civil rights struggle....

[Elections 2008]


By Media Matters

 

On the edition of the syndicated program The McLaughlin Group that aired the weekend of July 11-13, while discussing recent comments made by the Rev. Jesse Jackson about Sen. Barack Obama, host John McLaughlin said: "Question: Does it frost Jackson, Jesse Jackson, that someone like Obama, who fits the stereotype blacks once labeled as an Oreo -- a black on the outside, a white on the inside -- that an Oreo should be the beneficiary of the long civil rights struggle which Jesse Jackson spent his lifetime fighting for?"

Responding to McLaughlin's question, panelist and Council on Foreign Relations senior fellow Peter Beinart said: "Who knows what Jesse Jackson is thinking? But that's a completely unfair depiction of Barack Obama." Later in the discussion, Michelle Bernard, president of the Independent Women's Forum, said: "I want to go back to the point you made about whether or not Obama is an Oreo, because if Barack Obama is an Oreo, then every member of this generation of African-Americans is an Oreo, because we stand on the shoulders of the people who fought for our rights, and all of us say that you cannot blame 'the man' or white racism for everything that ails the black community."

From the July 11-13 edition of The McLaughlin Group:

McLAUGHLIN: OK, let's nail this thing down, and here's a sample of what Jackson apparently sees as Obama disparaging the black community.

OBAMA [video clip]: If we're honest with ourselves, we'll admit that too many fathers are also missing. Too many fathers are MIA. Too many fathers are AWOL. Missing from too many lives and too many homes. They've abandoned their responsibilities. They're acting like boys instead of men. And the foundations of our family have suffered because of it. You and I know this is true everywhere, but nowhere is it more true than in the African-American community.

McLAUGHLIN: Question: Does it frost Jackson, Jesse Jackson, that someone like Obama, who fits the stereotype blacks once labeled as an Oreo -- a black on the outside, a white on the inside -- that an Oreo should be the beneficiary of the long civil rights struggle which Jesse Jackson spent his lifetime fighting for? Peter Beinart.

BEINART: Who knows what Jesse Jackson is thinking? But that's a completely unfair depiction of Barack Obama, who -- the genius of Barack Obama is that he moves seamlessly between the African-American world and the white world in a way that even Bill Clinton couldn't possibly match. And the tragedy of this experience is that you know who's spoken very eloquently for many, many years about personal responsibility in the black community? Jesse Jackson. He of all people should recognize, in fact, that what Barack Obama is saying is not contrary to the message of the civil rights movement, it is keeping with that message.

McLAUGHLIN: Now, let's nail it down a little bit more, for the sake of Jackson. The question is this: Jackson's point of contention is this -- this is the exit question. The point of contention is that instead of Obama solely lecturing African-Americans on parental duty, particularly fathers, he should also give equal attention to the large, and many believe prejudicial, incarceration rate for blacks, their lack of economic opportunities, and other public policy issues that limit choices for black males. Why doesn't Obama hit that as hard as he hits individual parental responsibility? That's what Jackson is complaining about.

BEINART: Barack Obama doesn't talk about jobs and health care? He talks about it all the time. If you wanted to talk about the fact there were too many people in prison, then you're asking him to do something that would lose him the election.

McLAUGHLIN: Oh. Oh. Oh.

BEINART: That is politically -- that no serious political strategist -- he's a man trying to win the presidency, John.

McLAUGHLIN: He's exactly what Jeremiah Wright says he is: He will do whatever is necessary to win.

BEINART: He's a practical politician --

ELEANOR CLIFT (Newsweek contributing editor): This is a generational shift. Jesse Jackson Jr. put out a statement basically saying, "Dad, time to leave the stage." There is a disconnect in terms of style and tactics from the older civil rights generation to the generation that Obama is from and that he's trying to attract.

McLAUGHLIN: Does Jackson have a legitimate point?

PAT BUCHANAN (MSNBC political analyst): No, he doesn't.

McLAUGHLIN: Why?

BUCHANAN: I'll tell you why, John -- here's why. What Barack Obama is saying is a message that needs to be heard. It's the Bill Cosby message. It is, look, this is our responsibility, these are our families. The white society is not responsible for our kids dropping out of schools or using drugs or going on welfare. We are. What Jesse Jackson says is the white community's responsible and they've got to solve our problems.

McLAUGHLIN: Isn't this -- isn't this the oddity of the century where Barack Obama is a conservative and Jesse Jackson is a liberal? Isn't that an oddity?

BUCHANAN: Well, Jesse Jackson used to talk conservatively --

BERNARD: It is an oddity, but I want to go back to the point you made about whether or not Obama is an Oreo, because if Barack Obama is an Oreo, then every member of this generation of African-Americans is an Oreo, because we stand on the shoulders of the people who fought for our rights, and all of us say that you cannot blame "the man" or white racism for everything that ails the black community.

McLAUGHLIN: But what about changing public policy where it needs to be changed?

BUCHANAN: Public policy isn't the problem.

[crosstalk]

BERNARD: If I can finish my point. What Jesse Jackson came out and said when he gave his quote-unquote apology the next day was, Barack Obama should be demanding more government programs for African-Americans, and that's wrong.

CLIFT: As Jack White, a former Time magazine writer, says, that it's disorienting for the black community when "the man" might be the guy in the Oval Office. And so everybody is making some adjustments here. But Barack Obama is handling his role beautifully, and that is to relate to America as a broad population.

 

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