May 12, 2012

An inquiry into the 3 times Obama called people "faceless" in "Dreams From My Father."

"Dreams From My Father" is, according to its subtitle "A Story of Race and Inheritance," and this post is a story of facelessness — a bloggish riff undertaken without any particular goal in mind. I'd been struck yesterday by Obama's use of the word "faceless" to describe the children who, long ago, surrounded him in the playground and, with a bit of mockery, inspired him to shove the little black girl Coretta.

My search for facelessness was not as long nor as painstaking as Obama's search for his father's dreams. I have the Kindle edition of "Dreams," and I did a word search. I found 2 other appearances of  "faceless." Here is the first one, from his college days as Occidental.
There were enough of us [black students] on campus to constitute a tribe, and when it came to hanging out many of us chose to function like a tribe, staying close together, traveling in packs....

I had stumbled upon one of the well-kept secrets about black people: that most of us weren’t interested in revolt; that most of us were tired of thinking about race all the time; that if we preferred to keep to ourselves it was mainly because that was the easiest way to stop thinking about it, easier than spending all your time mad or trying to guess whatever it was that white folks were thinking about you.
By the way, in the section about Coretta, his reaction to his own behavior is to avoid other people. (He describes this passively: "I was left mostly alone.") He goes home after school, does his homework, and watches a lot of television while eating "the latest snack food" with "Gramps." Obama describes himself as "[n]ested in the soft, forgiving bosom of America’s consumer culture" where he "felt safe. " It was "as if I had dropped into a long hibernation."

Back to the college scene:
So why couldn’t I let it go?

I don’t know. I didn’t have the luxury, I suppose, the certainty of the tribe.... I hadn’t grown up in Compton, or Watts. I had nothing to escape from except my own inner doubt. I was more like the black students who had grown up in the suburbs, kids whose parents had already paid the price of escape. You could spot them right away by the way they talked, the people they sat with in the cafeteria.

When pressed, they would sputter and explain that they refused to be categorized. They weren’t defined by the color of their skin, they would tell you. They were individuals.
Note the potential sarcasm in the use of the word "individuals." Individuality is the opposite of facelessness.
That’s how Joyce liked to talk.
 Uh-oh. Here she comes. It's Joyce. Is she real? Is she concocted? Is she composite and compressed? 
She was a good-looking woman, Joyce was, with her green eyes and honey skin and pouty lips. We lived in the same dorm my freshman year, and all the brothers were after her. One day I asked her if she was going to the Black Students’ Association meeting. She looked at me funny, then started shaking her head like a baby who doesn’t want what it sees on the spoon.

“I’m not black,” Joyce said. “I’m multiracial.”
Do you believe there was really a Joyce who talked like this — so disgustingly disgusted? It doesn't matter. She's a literary device. She's a stereotype — the stereotype of the person who thinks she's an individual.
Then she started telling me about her father, who happened to be Italian and was the sweetest man in the world; and her mother, who happened to be part African and part French and part Native American and part something else. “Why should I have to choose between them?” she asked me. Her voice cracked, and I thought she was going to cry. “It’s not white people who are making me choose. Maybe it used to be that way, but now they’re willing to treat me like a person. No—it’s black people who always have to make everything racial. They’re the ones making me choose. They’re the ones who are telling me that I can’t be who I am….” They, they, they.

That was the problem with people like Joyce. They talked about the richness of their multicultural heritage and it sounded real good, until you noticed that they avoided black people. It wasn’t a matter of conscious choice, necessarily, just a matter of gravitational pull, the way integration always worked, a one-way street. The minority assimilated into the dominant culture, not the other way around.
Have reporters located this "Joyce" person who embodied exactly what he needed a character to embody at this point in the memoir? Or is she really Barack Obama, in the guise of a beautiful lady after whom all the "brothers" lusted?
Only white culture could be neutral and objective. Only white culture could be nonracial, willing to adopt the occasional exotic into its ranks. 
I wonder if that last sentence expresses what he thinks of himself now, about Americans having voted him into the presidency: He's the occasional exotic the white culture adopted.
Only white culture had individuals. And we, the half-breeds...
Half-breed! That's all I ever heard!
... and the college-degreed, take a survey of the situation and think to ourselves, Why should we get lumped in with the losers if we don’t have to? We become only so grateful to lose ourselves in the crowd, America’s happy, faceless marketplace...
The marketplace, where you can hibernate in the forgiving bosom of America’s consumer culture. Notice the flip: If you think of yourself as an individual, paradoxically, you'll melt into the crowd. You'll be faceless.
... and we’re never so outraged as when a cabbie drives past us or the woman in the elevator clutches her purse, not so much because we’re bothered by the fact that such indignities are what less fortunate coloreds have to put up with every single day of their lives—although that’s what we tell ourselves—but because we’re wearing a Brooks Brothers suit and speak impeccable English and yet have somehow been mistaken for an ordinary nigger.

Don’t you know who I am? I’m an individual!
This is a vicious rejection of the desire to be seen as an individual. He equates it to the subordination of black people. Individuality is a con. If you fall for it, you might imagine yourself to be happy and special, but you are really faceless. You've been duped by — by whom? — the "marketplace"? The "consumer culture"? But Obama's truth is: To have identity, you must identify with your identity group.

The final use of the word "faceless," comes up in Chicago as he interacts with a character — composite? — he calls Ruby.  She was a woman in the community he was trying to "organize." As he describes it, she has a lack of self-esteem borne of racial subordination.
If the language, the humor, the stories of ordinary people were the stuff out of which families, communities, economies would have to be built, then I couldn’t separate that strength from the hurt and distortions that lingered inside us. And it was the implications of that fact, I realized, that had most disturbed me when I looked into Ruby’s eyes. 
Ruby has eyes and therefore a face, but she exists in the book to embody a component of a larger entity that needs to "be built." That's what community organizing is: Getting individuals to find identity as a component of the whole. They are "the stuff out of which" things are "built."
The stories that I had been hearing from the leadership, all the records of courage and sacrifice and of great odds, hadn’t simply arisen from struggles with pestilence or drought, or even mere poverty. They had arisen out of a very particular experience with hate. That hate hadn’t gone away; it formed a counternarrative buried deep within each person and at the center of which stood white people—some cruel, some ignorant, sometimes a single face, sometimes just a faceless image of a system claiming power over our lives. I had to ask myself whether the bonds of community could be restored without collectively exorcising that ghostly figure that haunted black dreams. Could Ruby love herself without hating blue eyes?
He "looked into Ruby’s eyes" and he was "disturbed," because he saw "buried" inside her a "ghostly" white person. Looking back out of Ruby's eyes were the blue eyes of that white person, who sometimes had no face at all... and maybe wasn't even a person, but "a system." For the Rubys of Chicago to suffice as the raw material — "the stuff" — out of which the larger entity could "be built," that blue-eyed/faceless white person/system would need to be exorcised.

Notice the connection between facelessness and ghostliness. In yesterday's post — about the incident with the faceless white kids in the playground — I said "It's like he's sleepwalking in ghost world, where human beings are apparitions." And now, I'm seeing that he goes on to say: "For the rest of the afternoon, I was haunted by the look on Coretta’s face...." Faces haunt him.

In the Ruby incident, he speaks of a ghost haunting dreams, and "dreams" is the key word in the book: He's searching for dreams from his father. The good dreams, the dreams he seeks, are the dreams of the black side of his genetic heritage. He would like to exorcise the white component, which is oppressing him, or maybe not really him, but all those other black people with whom he needs to ally — alliance, as opposed to the fraud of being an individual — so he can build something, build something out of the people who have been turned into good building blocks by having the whiteness within extracted.

By conceptualizing a white person buried inside the subordinated black person — Ruby — Obama has found a way to think of all black people as needing the process that he — the half-black person — felt he needed.

Who are these people — Coretta, Joyce, and Ruby? Are they all really Barack, projected onto a female alter ego? He's created faces of females — each time in a context of faceless ghost characters. Who are they... and who is this mysterious man who revealed himself in this haunted-dreams book that we all feel we've almost read, but never very closely? He went on to become that face...



... the face that drew us in.

170 comments:

edutcher said...

Nice little insight into the Lefty mindset, if Ayers wrote it.

Otherwise, it shows Dictator Zero to be something of a head case.

"There were enough of [black students] on campus to constitute a tribe, and when it came to hanging out many of us chose to function like a tribe, staying close together, traveling in packs...."

"trying to guess whatever it was that white folks were thinking about you"

My God, this is how Jessuh Jackson and the other race baiters talk.

And, no, I think Joyce is just another composite of Fearless Leader himself.

PS He doesn't like being a half breed? Half the good guys on TV were half breeds - Quint, Mingo, Spock.

Matthew Sablan said...

If only Joyce had gone off on her multi-racial speech to a white person, she'd be a hero instead of a villain.

I can see now why more people didn't read this book. The writing is... bad.

chickenlittle said...

The minority assimilated into the dominant culture, not the other way around.

I'm trying to think of a physico-chemical analogy for the latter but I can't think of one.

xnar said...

So he had this psychosis and went around looking for other folks with a similar psychosis to build with.

I think we normally call that having a chip on your shoulder.

I wonder what he sees in my faceless face. Or does he forget that too when it is convenient.

Matthew Sablan said...

Also notice how he treats Joyce like a baby -- quite literally saying that he was trying to feed her and she was pouting and throwing a tantrum. Is that how we're supposed to talk about women?

"That was the problem with people like Joyce. They talked about the richness of their multicultural heritage and it sounded real good, until you noticed that they avoided black people."
-- Yet, she had no problem talking with him. "All the brothers were after her," she simply didn't want to go to a meeting. It is Obama who seems to have a problem with the fact that she won't discard the white part of herself; it's not that she's an individual that's a problem. It's that her choice of being an individual isn't what -he wants her to choose.-

This is not a flattering picture of the president. Remember, technically, Obama is also multiracial. Integration is not a one-way street; if it was, Joyce would not be identifying as multiracial, but just Italian (or just American).

Isn't it good that "white culture" is nonracial and objective? Isn't that our ultimate goal for all culture?

Kevin said...

... the face that drew us in.

Well, the face that drew you in, Ann.

Some of us had him pegged as a huckster from the start.

Matthew Sablan said...

That actually seems to be a subtle theme. Obama is angry at Joyce for not totally accepting her blackness and rejecting her other racial identity; thinking Tim should change his name to Tom for not being black enough... Obama really seems to feel like he should be able to tell other people what their racial identity, and they should just listen to him because he is smarter and not one of the losers.

He went to a nice school, something he brings up here. He talks about the price of escape; which it sounds like he means giving up their racial identity. But Tim and Joyce did not give up their racial identity, they simply don't solely identify with a part of their heritage (or, in Tim's case, simply dated a white girl for all I know from the excerpts I've seen of the book).

What is Obama's problem, and why does he feel like people's racial identity is his decision?

chickenlittle said...

Notice the connection between facelessness and ghostliness.

Maybe somebody just smoked a lot of pot and watched MTV in the 1980's: Eyes With A Face and Ghost In You. Association were made unconsciously.

cassandra lite said...

"She looked at me funny, then started shaking her head like a baby who doesn’t want what it sees on the spoon."

Further proof that Obama didn't write his book. It seems highly unlikely that a childless writer searching his imagination for a metaphor to describe an emphatic no would settle on this one.

Bill Ayers had had a couple of kids by then. Just sayin'.

Saint Croix said...

It's disquieting when your President dehumanizes you.

LilyBart said...

Upon reading his book, how could anyone expect Barack Obama to lead us to any 'post racial' period? He is obesssed with Race.

He is also obsessed with himself. I didn't realize how boring this book was - like listening to someone going on and on, monotonously, about themselves and what they think about everything. Blah, blah boring.

I suspect Obama is a collossally boring person to hang out with.

Ann Althouse said...

"Obama is angry at Joyce for not totally accepting her blackness and rejecting her other racial identity..."

He may have been annoyed that "multi-racial" didn't work as well for him, since he was half black and half white, while she was black and Native American, and the white part was not only more than half, it was divided into 2 distinctive ethnicities: Italian and French.

In fact, Joyce's multicultural makeup is so precious that I'm almost sure he made it up.

Sorun said...

I now think of Obama as even more racist, petty, and stupid than I did when I woke up this morning.

PatCA said...

Notice how all these sections reflect his own fear of rejection, by women, by whites, whoever, even his seeing rejection where none is intended. All to justify his own chip on the shoulder?

This is a young boy who will never get over being abandoned by his parents.

Matthew Sablan said...

Cassandra: I'm not married, don't have kids. I sometimes make allusions to married life or babies. That's hardly proof someone else wrote the book. I'm also not a woman, but, *gasp*, sometimes, I write about women.

edutcher said...

Matthew Sablan said...

Also notice how he treats Joyce like a baby -- quite literally saying that he was trying to feed her and she was pouting and throwing a tantrum. Is that how we're supposed to talk about women?

Probably not, but Matthew paints Dictator Zero as the living embodiment of the Time cover and its "attachment parenting", "The blacks - they're so helpless without us, we have to do everything for them because they won't be able to function for themselves".

Isn't it good that "white culture" is nonracial and objective? Isn't that our ultimate goal for all culture?

Oh, Heavens, no!!!

That would mean people of color wouldn't need Demos like Teddy Kennedy and Jessuh Jackson and Kerosene Maxine and Little Zero to save them from all the white folk.

We're constantly plotting against them, you know. It consumes our every waking moment.

Matthew Sablan said...

Actually, now that Ann re-mentions the racial breakdown, and I look back at the part about honey skin and green eyes, maybe it does have to do with that. I'm trying to remember the scene from Nella Larsen's Passing, which when I re-read this, I wonder if anyone else was reminded of that story, theme-wise.

eiaftinfo said...

I am simply facinated that his face "drew us in" - who exactly?? A simple read of his pathetically thin resume should have been a clue. His simple lack of real-world experience should have been a clue. His remarkably short time spent in the Illinois should have been a clue. His associates and those he was raised around should have been a clue. Honestly, the list is endless.

My own view is that the vast majority of the book is false - a illusion envisioned by Obama and put to pen by Ayers.

bagoh20 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Peter said...

Joyce's description of herself as "multiracial" leads me to believe she's a composite character. Multiracial is a fairly new concept that still is far from universally accepted. It would have been a very, very new concept when Obama (or Ayers, or whoever) wrote Dreams in 1995, and basically unheard-of in 1979-1980 when the Joyce incident supposedly occurred.

Rose said...

Not vetting this man has cost us big time.

BTW - best analysis yet.

Balfegor said...

There is something odd about Black identity in the US, in that it seems (to an outsider) to be a lot more all-or-nothing than any other racial mix. I'm half-Korean and half-White, and while I typically self-identify as Asian when in the US and Half or White when in East Asia, there is zero pressure to "choose our side" as it were. If anything, there is a slight pressure to "choose the other side," which in itself is a bit liberating. Whereas with half-Blacks, quarter-Blacks, etc., it seems like there is strong pressure to self-identify as "Black" (and Obama certainly seems to think so.) It seems very unpleasant, and makes me glad I don't have to deal with that.

bagoh20 said...

This Obama character seems to be like a painting of a soup can with all the attendant deep meaning and cultural significance.

Matthew Sablan said...

Multiracial was first used in 1923, per Merriam-Webster. Also, the idea of people being multiracial is not recent (see Passing, etc., and other stories of racial identity). Interracial marriage was an issue in the 1960s, so I think it is plausible that someone was using the term before recently.

elkh1 said...

Don't read too much into his facelessness. The most eloquent, most brilliant HopeyChanger loves to recycle cliches. How many times has he praised those mini-nations for punching above their weights?

A narcissist who believes our military fight wars on behalf of him, die for him, the taxpayers work for him, can only see himself, everyone else is a faceless blur.

edutcher said...

Thing is, there are mixed race kids everywhere and have been for a while.

Mixed race has always been with us (read Mary Chesnutt(sp?)) and it's been a bigger part of this country than those coming in from outside might think.

Once again, Barry, raised in that rarefied atmosphere of American Commies, doesn't realize that because he doesn't know the country. Even in HI, there was always a very diverse mix, but he never moved from his grandmother's affluent enclave so he could see it.

AllenS said...

"Then she started telling me about her father, who happened to be Italian and was the sweetest man in the world; and her mother, who happened to be part African and part French and part Native American..."

Let me guess. Cherokee?

mrs whatsit said...

Fascinating. He criticizes Joyce for "avoiding black people not as a matter of conscious choice, necessarily, just a matter of gravitational pull, the way integration always worked, a one-way street," yet completely fails to notice that she explained exactly why she consciously chooses to avoid black people: because they make everything racial, tell her that she can't be who she is, and in short, treat her badly.

He's so sure that she's a mindless drone, too dumb to know what she's doing, that, when she tells him what she thinks and why she chooses to act as she does, he can't understand a word of it, even as he reports it verbatim. Chilling, really. Are we sure her name wasn't Julia?

Ann Althouse said...

On the history of the word "multiracial," here's the OED:


1903 Biometrika 2 511 Stop the immigration into North America and let its multiracial elements interbreed for a number of generations.

1923 Overseas Sept. 45 The interests of modern civilisation and, I think, Christian ethics, are better expressed in large, bi-racial or multi-racial States,‥where racialism is accounted a public curse rather than a civic virtue.

1947 Forum (Johannesburg) 10 i. 25/1 We, as a multi-racial society, have had our differences, while sharp antagonisms unfortunately exist today.

1957 Economist 19 Oct. 204/2 He triumphantly created the first multiracial government in Africa at the height of Mau Mau.

1984 Times 5 Nov. 3/3 It is believed to be the first time that a judge has taken steps to ensure that a multi-racial jury tries a case involving racial issues
.
1993 Time 18 Jan. 36/2 The multiracial population—78% Chinese, 14% Malay, 7% Indian—uses English widely.

Balfegor said...

Also, the idea of people being multiracial is not recent (see Passing, etc., and other stories of racial identity). Interracial marriage was an issue in the 1960s, so I think it is plausible that someone was using the term before recently.

Yes, although I think historically, the term for us has been "half-caste." It was regularly in use throughout the 19th century, and probably came into general use, in English, back in the 18th, or possibly the 17th, when the English East India Company first entered India.

Ann Althouse said...

(Those OED usages refer to groups of people, not individuals being multi-racial.)

garage mahal said...

Obama has found a way to think of all black people as needing the process that he — the half-black person — felt he needed.


Obama is racially conflicted!

America: Would YOU trust this guy????

R said...

'Sup, Ann? Good on you for this current crop of observations about teh one. I wonder if you attended a come-to-Jesus meeting or something.

R said...

..I hit post before editing my comment to apologize for the snark of my observation.

Tim said...

"He went on to become that face...
... the face that drew us in."


Who is "us," Kemosabe?

Some of "us" recognized the con from the start. Others, wanting to believe the con, happily rejected reason and straddled the nation with the least qualified man ever elected president.

We'd all be better off if politicians like Barack Obama worked out their private anguish in private rather than on the public stage; and if voters were smart enough to recognize politicians seeking public power to validate themselves.

If we're lucky, some significant share of the idiots who voted for this twit will have learned from the experience, and we can turn the page, consigning Barry, er, Barack to some toney neighborhood where he can work out his anxieties in private.

rhhardin said...

"A spectre is haunting Europe - the spectre of communism"

Opening line of The Communist Manifesto.

edutcher said...

AllenS said...

"Then she started telling me about her father, who happened to be Italian and was the sweetest man in the world; and her mother, who happened to be part African and part French and part Native American..."

Let me guess. Cherokee?


I know, she Lizzie Warren's composite daughter!

Balfegor said...

Yes, although I think historically, the term for us has been "half-caste."

Definitely a holdover from Indian culture.

You don't hear anything like that in this country except in an old Ronald Colman movie

mtrobertsattorney said...

"What is Obama's problem?"

Deep down, he just doesn't like white people. It's as simple as that.

bagoh20 said...

Where is Crack Emcee when you really need him?

I think multiracial people love being so, and relish the attention, freedom and power it gives them. I know I would. But there really is nothing there, either new or significant.

This all looks silly to me.

JAL said...

Sometimes I wish I did use the f word. It would work well here.

This guy is one **** narcissist.

From Day One.

That's all there is to it.

Too bad some people are just now noticing it.

No one [else] can be an individual in these people's worlds. Everyone is faceless. Or a composite. Because no one can be an individual - only the "I" exists.

So remember that you folks who still love the idea of President Obama.

He only wants your vote. Not so he can do anything for you. So he can do what he wants -- to make the faceless more beholdong to him, the Won.

He doesn't give a rat's ass about you, the person, except as you serve his purpose.

Project all you want on his blank screen.

But do not vote for this guy.

You are the faceless. Or a composite. And /or a means to an end. You're never a real person.

He's not just creepy. In a different political setting he would be downright scary. (Nod towards Hugo Chavez & Co.)

Balfegor said...

Re: edutcher:

Definitely a holdover from Indian culture.

You don't hear anything like that in this country except in an old Ronald Colman movie


I think that's true now, but it certainly wasn't true in the past. A quick check of Google Books confirms my recollection that Roosevelt I uses "half-caste" in his writings -- he uses the term in referring both to American populations (in the West) and to foreign populations (in Africa).

rhhardin said...

"..[T]he specter is a paradoxical incorporation, the becoming-body, a certain phenomenal and carnal form of the spirit. It becomes ... some "thing" that remains difficult to name: neither soul nor body, and both one and the other. For it is flesh and phenomenality that give to the spirit its spectral apparition, but which disappear right away in the apparition, in the very coming of the revenant or the return of the specter..."

Derrida, Specters of Marx p.6

Seeing Red said...

It's Obama who is faceless.

Hagar said...

Decaf indeed.

For everybody.

The Crack Emcee said...

the face that drew us in.

And now, I want you to gaze in a mirror at the face that gets drawn in, that is now - finally - understanding how a con man works, and her own capacity to be conned. You should be as angry at her as you seem to be at him, because he couldn't have worked his false-HOPE bullshit without her. She was, for all intents ands purposes, an accomplice, much like Three Card Monte players always have an extra to goad others into participating.

Yes, be angry at her, too,...

gutless said...

"Face it", the fellow is a psychologically damaged man who fooled even many of the perceptive among us.

Seeing Red said...

--What is Obama's problem, and why does he feel like people's racial identity is his decision?---


He's pissed at his parents and taking it out on us?

Methadras said...

We already know the man is a phoney who will concoct narratives to fit his political ideology and agenda. He's a liar and that's what they do. Actually, I believe he's a sociopath at this point.

Balfegor said...

re: bagoh20:

I think multiracial people love being so, and relish the attention, freedom and power it gives them. I know I would.

I think multi-racial people who are not part-Black have that pleasant experience. But look at what Obama's writing -- when he's young, he deliberately goes out and harasses multiracial people who are part-Black whom he deems have not identified sufficiently with Black culture. People going out of their way to pressure you like that would get pretty tiresome pretty quickly. I think that would be kind of miserable.

JAL said...

while eating "the latest snack food"

The whole damn book is made up.

He can't remember the "latest snack food?

Who talks and thinks like that?

Did he munch on potato chips or Fritos? Or moon pies (well, maybe not in HI, in the 70s).

What a pile of horse poop.

edutcher said...

Balfegor said...

Definitely a holdover from Indian culture.

You don't hear anything like that in this country except in an old Ronald Colman movie


I think that's true now, but it certainly wasn't true in the past. A quick check of Google Books confirms my recollection that Roosevelt I uses "half-caste" in his writings -- he uses the term in referring both to American populations (in the West) and to foreign populations (in Africa).


Good point, but keep in mind TR was very much the exception in his time. Far more widely traveled, much better educated.

gutless said...

"Face it", the fellow is a psychologically damaged man who fooled even many of the perceptive among us.

The working definition of a sociopath. Willie Whitewater qualifies, too. Interesting what the Demos nominate these days.

Seeing Red said...

When you become faceless, you are expendable. Gotta break a few eggs to make omlettes.

Mel said...

The face that drew you in, Althouse.

Old Dad said...

So Bill Ayres read Invisible Man.

He didn't get it, but he read it.

Balfegor said...

That said, as I think about it, it's not like Obama was raised in Black culture -- all he knows of it is what he's picked up from media, or from talking with other Blacks as an adult. And the audience for his memoir is probably mostly liberal Whites. So he may just be reflecting back to liberal Whites the attitudes they (like he himself -- since in many ways they have more in common with him than he has with other Blacks) expect Blacks to have with respect to race. That is, his memoir may be, in a sense, an elaborate minstrel show, in which he performs for a White audience as a "Black" expressing the feelings and thoughts they all think a Black man ought to have, in his situation. Who knows.

The upshot of it is, it may not actually be that bad for multiracial people who are part-Black. It may just be Obama who's like that, no one else.

bagoh20 said...

The face that drew in the faceless.

madAsHell said...

Sometimes he forgets how bad the economy is for the faceless.

roesch/voltaire said...

The movie Shadows(1959) by Cassavetes resonates with much of the same imagery: the mixed-race character moving in and out of shadows, struggling with identity and wanting not to be identified. And somehow this ghost imagery reflects Fredric Jameson's description of post-modern fragmentation of the subject that wants not to be fragmented.

Jacques Cuze said...

Stopped reading this huge tl,dr; when I discovered the first section with "faceless" in it does not contain "faceless" in it.

Tom Spaulding said...

Pro Tip: Vetting, THEN voting.

Otherwise you end up voting for a bi-racial Lonesome Rhodes.

Rusty said...

She was, for all intents ands purposes, an accomplice, much like Three Card Monte players always have an extra to goad others into participating.


Called a "shill"
the ringer in the game to build the pot. The lurker in the crowd to bid the price up. The idiot in the electorate that you just want to hit in the head with a blunt object they're so stupid.
Thanks 53%.

cassandra lite said...

Matthew Sablan said...

Cassandra: I'm not married, don't have kids. I sometimes make allusions to married life or babies. That's hardly proof someone else wrote the book. I'm also not a woman, but, *gasp*, sometimes, I write about women.

Matthew, do you make these allusions in conversation or professional writing? Are they deliberate metaphors intended to convey a singularly important image? If you were childless and wanted to convey the point the writer was making, do you think you'd search the world of images in your memory/imagination and settle on that one?

phx said...

I haven't read the book but these excerpts are interesting and impressive to me. He seems thoughtful, attempting to be objectively self-aware; his voice is natural, self-assured, open. I'm especially impressed if he wrote it.

Aridog said...

"trying to guess whatever it was that white folks were thinking about you"

That's good comedy theater. He joined the "tribe" because he never wondered what white people thought about him, but he anguished over what black people thought of him, given that he grew up "white."

He still does.

virgil xenophon said...

The quote Chickenlittle cites@9:45 is the one that jumped out at me and points out a fact that I have long argued: namely, seemingly all to many blacks in this country seem unable to accept the inescapable fact of their minority status and quixotically pine for the day when their culture (however defined) is dominate. This unrealistic refusal to accept reality--exampled by constant rants about "structural racism"--goes a looong way to explain much of the discontent of American blacks. It's as if I moved to Japan and complained about "structural" and "cultural" racism because all the street signs and storefront logos were in Japanese. Such a mind-set thus sees what is simply a reflection of the dominant culture as "racist" because it doesn't reflect dominance of the "minority" culture. Which, in one respect, is hilarious as it could easily be argued that from a sociocultural aspect--whether in musical tastes of the majority of the citizenry, styles of dress and use of color in fashions, the fields of athletics, Hollywood and TV, etc.---the black minority has dominated the majority culture to a HUGE extent and imposed itself as the defacto dominate culture over a large swath of American life. No savage irony there...as well in the fact of the sociocultural reversal of the "one drop" rule in many quarters of society in which the rule is now used to improve ones social/professional acceptance among certain power elites (Academia, Hollywood and politicians)

The sad truth is, the "minorities will NEVER be happy until they are in the MAJORITY. Hence the argument for open borders. Hatred for "whitey" being axiomatic as long as minorities chaff under their "minority" status. This fact is why NO amount of legal (think AA) or political "improvements" in their status will EVER be satisfactory enough to suit them--only the erasure of all white "privilege" and "dominance" will suffice. Hence the ready attachment to statist/totalitarian political methods of control of the white masses by "progressives" who not only consider themselves to be morally and intellectually superior; they have come to believe that totalitarian methods are the ONLY way their own "cultures" may hope to prevail.

But fools that they are, they do not realize they've already mostly won. When Cinco de mayo is a de facto national holiday and white teen-age suburban boys have Kobe Bryant and Duane Wade posters on their walls, the battle for sociocultural dominance by this nation's "minorities" is well on its way to being won..

phx said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matthew Sablan said...

Cassandra: Possibly. Matters how much editing went into it and what else came up. The image of a spoiled baby refusing food is pretty common.

virgil xenophon said...

***"too" viz "to"

phx said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
virgil xenophon said...

PS: One of your better analytical posts, Ann...thoroughly enjoyed reading it..

Craig said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H8Ei5FGuJ7g&feature=player_detailpage

Annette did the same dance with Bob Hope in 1964 when she was still a Mouseketeer. Go to Youtube and search 'Bob Hope Ska'.

virgil xenophon said...

@phx/

Would you be satisfied had I substituted "discomfort" and/or "irritation" for "hatred?" Or perhaps "dissatisfaction?" That's your only complaint, right?

Larry J said...

... the face that drew us in.

Us? No, only some of us, those that wanted to believe the narrative because it fit into their worldviews.

Quite a few of us saw him for the fraud he is long ago. McCain was a bad candidate but he was still far better than Obama to those willing to look at the Obama for what he is, not the story he tells.

Damn, I hate your Captcha system.

phx said...

Oh, I'm not complaining Virgil.

But no, that wouldn't fix that hot mess.

Fernandinande said...

Do you believe there was really a Joyce ...

I don't believe anything Obama says about anything.

... the face that drew us in.

Speak for yourself.

cassandra lite said...

Matthew Sabian said: "Cassandra: Possibly. Matters how much editing went into it and what else came up. The image of a spoiled baby refusing food is pretty common."

The editing, such as it was, took place in the mind of the writer. No copyeditor, line editor, or acquiring editor would've changed it.

AJ Lynch said...

It is obvious that, to Obama, race is a 247 issue and foremost in his thoughts and mind since he was a teen. He seems to lay all the problems of America at the foot of racist white people, so it is no wonder he has spent so little time learning economics, history, logic, math etc. To him, that is unnecessary since race is the problem.

I think he is genuinely f-ed up in the head and full of anger yet he keeps it under wraps pretty well. I wonder he can work with all the white people he has appointed - I guess most of them are true apologists and bootlickers to him when it comes to America's racism.

I bet being a one-term ex-president will make him even angrier.

PETER V. BELLA said...

Anybody can write an autobiography and make stuff up. Obama got away with writing a fairy tale.

Rick67 said...

"Black side of his genetic heritage".

There is irony here. Because I hate to say it but what does his *African* heritage have to do with the *black American* "experience"? Let me explain.

Much of what Ann quotes has to do with this sense of "racial subordination" and the stereotypes and prejudices of white people toward African *Americans*.

I work with and have friendships with many Africans. Have pictures of some in my home and office. Africans and African Americans are different. Their mindset is different. They are as similar as I am to a room full of {north and northwestern Europeans}.

If Obama was "suffering" from his status as an African American, and sought answers by finding dreams from his father's African/Kenyan genetic heritage - that is peculiar.

Unknown said...

Obama's book probably isn't destined to sit on the shelf with Shakespeare, however, I don't think it's deserving of the level of derision in A.A.'s post and in the comments.

(Watch out, I'm about to be sincere. Am expecting snark but can't help myself)

It seems to me that both the blog post and many of the comments to be coming from people who are neither mixed race nor "third culture" kids (i.e. kids who lived overseas and then felt like strangers in their home country.)Obama was both, and it's not surprising that as a young adult he was ultra-aware of identity issues and the challenges of fitting in. Unlike most people, he never had the comfortable feeling of being a pea-in-a-pod - he had (and has) always been different from everybody else, through no choice of his own.

If you were to try to listen and empathize before putting Obama down, you might learn something.

I am white, not mixed race, but I was third culture kid - was born American, but really didn't live here till late adolescence - and a lot of what Obama writes resonates with me. After I moved back here, people could tell there was something different about me. Even though I had an American accent, people did not stop asking me "what are you" and "what country are you from" until I had lived here 10 years. It was really lonely, especially after a childhood of being a foreigner who had to tell people she was American every single day. And Obama's situation was far more complex than mine. I would be surprised if he didn't have to deal with the "what are you" question so much more than I did. For me that was very alienating and I felt like a stranger here for a very long time. And even though I have a huge extended family here that I love and who loves me, that I visited every summer, I have always been and will always be somewhat strange to them.

Coming from that experience, to me Obama's awkwardness (in his memoir) and self-absorption make a lot of sense, and don't display narcissism at all. Please don't judge if you haven't been there.

My own sense of alienation from growing up third culture is probably partly why I married a man who is a member of a close-knit ethnic community - it gave me the sense of belonging I'd never had before. After years of dating other alienated people without close community ties, meeting my husband was a revelation. I'd be surprised if there wasn't a similar dynamic at play with B.O. and Michelle.


And at the same time, having had that experience can result in a certain skill in connecting with people across boundaries, which I think that Obama has (no doubt others here will disagree). That is one reason why I supported Obama so strongly in 2008 - I felt like we needed someone who was better at that than his predecessor.

I now have two kids adopted locally through foster care who are the same race as me....yet they still experience intense displacement and questions about where they belong. They are never just peas-in-a-pod when they're with other children, belonging without question.People can tell they are different. It's not what I experienced...but my hope for them is that like me, and like Obama, that perhaps they will find life partners who will give them the sense of home that I want to but cannot.

On a related note...in the past I've read comments here about how Obama's frequent use of the word "I" is narcissistic. I disagree. It all depends on what the person is saying. If a person uses "I" to constantly draw attention to his/her accomplishments, that's one thing. But a person can also use "I" to try to communicate that s/he is speaking only from his/her perspective, and recognizes the limitations of that perspective, and also recognizes that others have different perspectives. To me, that use is the opposite of narcissistic, and that's what I frequently hear when I listen to Obama.

yashu said...

Fascinating reading, Althouse.

An odd sentence from the book that struck me:

I had stumbled upon one of the well-kept secrets about black people: that most of us weren't interested in revolt... [etc. etc.]

That's so oddly phrased. "I had stumbled upon one of the well-kept secrets about black people" doesn't sound like something said by a black person, from the perspective of a black person. When I stumble upon a well-kept secret about X, the implication is that "I" am fortuitously discovering something about X as an outsider to X, from an external standpoint to X. X-- "black people"-- is a grammatical third person, external to the first person "I."

But after the colon the sentence segues into the first person plural, the well-kept secret fortuitously discovered is something about "most of us": X = we. Now this is clearly spoken from an insider's perspective on X, a standpoint internal to X-- spoken by a black person who's part of a first person plural "us".

The colon marks at once a caesura and passage. The sentence moves from a separation between first and third person ("I" and "black people") to a first person plural synthesis ("black people" = "us"). A movement from outside to inside. A first person from whom a secret (belonging to others) is kept is transformed into someone (belonging to a first person plural "us") who keeps a secret (about "us") from others. (And now discloses it to the readers of this book.)

In a way, the odd grammar of the sentence encapsulates Obama's journey as a quest for identity qua belonging, a quest for an "us" to belong to. Obama goes from outsider who doesn't fit in (who has to learn the "secrets about black people") to community organizer (the ultimate insider, who yet transcends the community enough to "organize" it; who knows and keeps and uses the secrets about black people for political ends) and ultimately to author of this book (disclosing those secrets to readers, some of whom aren't black and are thus outsiders to that experience).

So Obama goes from someone who yearns to be assimilated… into someone who assimilates others. (Cf. his complaint in another passage that "the minority assimilated into the dominant culture, not the other way around.")

Alternately, the odd phrasing is a clue that the person who wrote it is not black.

(How's that for turgid overinterpretation? Heh, that's a nasty disease I picked up in grad school.)

Alex said...

No doubt Ritmo will show up and deride us all as racists for even daring to discuss what Obama wrote in his damn book.

Titus said...

I love half-breeds and the song half breed.

I am sorry but I can not stop laughing at the viral video of the lady from Lincoln Nebraska talking about gay sex. The guy behind her is so fucking funny.

Off to the beach.

tits.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Sometimes he forgets how bad the economy is for the faceless.

The Forgotten Man Highly recommended reading along with Free to Chose. and for those who don't want to read see the videos

Everything old is new again!

William said...

I think Joyce chose to be multi cultural because she could. The color line is easily permeable for an attractive woman. Less so for a guy. Obama was seeking to make fine wine (whine?) out of his sour grapes.....By definition, our persona is a mask, and we eventually become who we pretend to be. Obama's black persona was inauthentic but probably no more so than if he had adapted a white one.

Balfegor said...

RE: Unknown:

Coming from that experience, to me Obama's awkwardness (in his memoir) and self-absorption make a lot of sense, and don't display narcissism at all. Please don't judge if you haven't been there.

I am mixed-race, and although I was raised mostly in the US, my upbringing was sufficiently foreign that people regularly assume I was born and raised overseas (one of my linguistics professors asked when I learned English, as she had assumed I was a non-native speaker). And as I think I have mentioned in other threads, my appearance is racially ambiguous, so people in places like California not infrequently address me in Spanish (I assume it is Spanish), rather than English.

Coming from that background certainly gives me sympathy with Obama, but it also makes him more than a little pathetic in my eyes. In any event, however, I reject the notion that one cannot judge unless one has "been there."

ricpic said...

Well, I for one am happy as a clam that Obama, now that he's king, is able to take out all his resent filled misery on whitey.

chickenlittle said...

yashu wrote: The colon marks at once a caesura and passage.

*Looks up "caesura"...*

Thank you for the word and for the thoughtful analysis.

chickenlittle said...

@virgil xenophon: I think you unnerved the hot mess aka phx.

chickenlittle said...

Titus said...
I love half-breeds and the song half breed.

Speaking of hot messes, Cher really worked herself into a blather the other day on Twitter. She deleted everything and apologized.

Quayle said...

"trying to guess whatever it was that white folks were thinking about you"

An alternative approach is to actually walk over and interact with white folks.

Because, and perhaps this is the real problem, the raw and painful truth related to worrying about what people think of you is that they actually don't spend much time thinking of you at all.

It brings up the difficult conundrum - which is worse: being thought poorly of or not being thought of at all.

greenlantern said...

In this discussion of Obama, I am reminded of the character "Sebastian" in the movie "Suddenly Last Summer". Listen to how Elizabeth Taylor's character talks about him, knowing he was murdered by a crowd of poor peasant boys who devoured him.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T_uzs9jK-f4

David R. Graham said...

@ JAL - the Blue Star Banner may be displayed by the parent of a deployed Soldier, Airman, etc. No such offspring deploys for as long as you display the Blue Star Banner. If you are a Gold Star Parent you may of course display the Gold Star Banner indefinitely.

The Crack Emcee said...

Quayle,

An alternative approach is to actually walk over and interact with white folks.

Yep, that's what I did - even though they were The Devil - because I had to know what "I Am The Walrus" was all about (I'd never heard anything like it).

I'm still friends, and in contact, with my buddies from those days (a few cops and a "partisan Democrat but a pragmatic radical -- whatever the fuck that is") and I'm grateful for knowing them all. So much so that, when I was living in France and the frogs were trying to convince me to turn against my country for it's supposed racism, all I had to do was think of my friends from school and SHAZAAM! their French bullshit was exposed as a lie.

Obama could've learned a lot, if he'd bothered,...

Michael K said...

"The working definition of a sociopath. Willie Whitewater qualifies, too. Interesting what the Demos nominate these days."

Modern politicians are definitely not normal people. I think it was Alan Greenspan who said that Gerald Ford was the only normal person who became president in his own experience (and he knew a lot of presidents) I would add Eisenhower.

Quayle said...

Crack, I make it a point (in a southern major metropolitan area) when I rub solders with blacks in public (at a restaurant, the mall, at the game, etc.) to look them in the eye and smile at them and send them good vibes.

I get three responses:

1. from many, i get huge, heartfelt smiles back;

2. from some I get total ice and hardness back;

3. and from a fair number, I get back an initial instinctive move to smile, then (catching themselves) a final move to ice.

But, you know, when we're all sitting at the game rooting for the major league team, we all get along fine.

Sad that it can't carry over.

Rabel said...

Interesting post, Althouse.

About this quote: "Could Ruby love herself without hating blue eyes?"

Did he answer that question?

MayBee said...

I have to admit I have a hard time sympathizing with people over the age of 13 searching for an identity. For heaven's sake, just live your life and allow yourself to feel however it is you feel without having to label it.

Nobody but the most narcissistic person feels universally accepted. That's not the experience of one race or another, or the result of being a third culture kid. That's just the human experience.


Very interesting analysis by Althouse, btw.

MayBee said...


About this quote: "Could Ruby love herself without hating blue eyes?"


Is this Prof Bell's influence on him?

traditionalguy said...

Interesting analysis. IMO taking another cheap shot at Obama is not the response tp make here.

What this confirmed for me is the true nature of a toxic narcissist's relationships are Obama's core personality defect.

Although many have called Obama a narcissist, meaning that he is self centered, as an insult, really 80% of men are self centered.

The mental illness diagnosed as Toxic Narcissim describes an intelligent controller who must control his own image in everyone else's minds. It takes a dedicated and cruel person to do that.

And learning how to do that is what Obama is recounting in this autobiography. He wants a pass for white oppression because he had tp spend his life learning how to control his image in the minds of people in a racially segregated culture.

This makes Obama into a very dangerous person to have as leader of any group that is designed to allow for differing visions but agrees to compromises to keep going.

Obama literally cannot function that way.

He demands to be seen exactly as he demands to be seen, and those who do not go along with his image are to be crushed and disposed of for heresies.

The Czars at EPA are doing that now to our coal electrical energy infrastructure and will do it next to what ever is carbon based energy.... like Keystone Pipeline. Why? Because Obama sees himself as a weather controller savior and he cannot compromise his demands to be seen his way.

The President is a sick man.

David R. Graham said...

It's no big identifying as black, white, yellow, whatever. The disease is not accepting whatever else one is, or, whatever another is. Radical effort to radically reject something one or another is is firstly stupid and, if that isn't smartened up, then evil.

Communists exist to radically deny one thing or another.

I think the us of Althouse's drew us in is a composite. She called the post a riff and her riffs are consistently contrapuntal, recalling Bach or Brahms. Composite is the subject of the days of late for her and others. She has constructed here what I think is more a canon than a fugue using that subject of composite. It works very nicely, I think.

Her contrapuntal composing, done with great ease, drives Althouse's attractiveness and thus popularity. Her facility playing on word roots across a post is Shakespearian.

n.n said...

He describes a dissociation from reality. This normally occurs when people suffer from a midlife crisis or consumption of psychotropic drugs. It is the result of perceived or induced irreconcilable differences in reality. In his state of mind, he is most conscious when removed from responsibility. Depending on the degree of detachment, he may suffer recurring relapses. When they occur, he perceives reality from a third-person perspective. Human beings are differentiable but not as individuals. They are perceived as merely an element of a collective or mass. Much as we tend to perceive plants or animals, or other human beings in large assemblies.

I wonder if he is the manipulator or the convenient subject of manipulation. Either way, we have a psychotic directing our lives. He's good for parties but little more.

Chip S. said...

The Incredible Shrinking President.

Rose said...

It's interesting that 'multi-racial' is all about color. His composite girlfriend, and everyone I know, are mutts, with mixed heritages. My 'ethnic' heritage does not get more than a single line on all those state-mandated 'diversity' forms I fill out.

Scottish/Irish/Welsh/Polish/English - all get smushed into "white" along with German, Norwegian, Swedish, Danish, Dutch, Russian, French.... yet every variation of a color gets its own line. Except for one form which gives you the choice of "Hispanic___ Not Hispanic___"

Back in the 90s there was an "Age Wave" study. One of the accompanying stories about its revelations said we are all very similar, but our differences are very important to us. Maybe that's become a problem rather than a source of pride.

Obama has not evolved. He is stuck. He loves the victim culture, and I do not think he is capable of evolving.

A. Shmendrik said...

What you mean us kemosabe?

Rose said...

And, btw - do not take the story of Obama and the girl he pushed to be bullying. It is in fact a very normal childhood story - it could be any boy and any girl on any playground in any place in the world.

The child reacted to the taunting - and children can be cruel, making up rhymes out of names, and the every popular 'two little lovebirds sitting in a tree..."

It's Obama thinking that it is unique to being black, and related to oppression that is disturbing. In fact they were being treated as one of the kids. Not in a good way to be sure, but no different than that which most people will tell you they encountered or endured - way back then.

William said...

Althouse's post, like its subject was intelligent and somewhat enignmatic. It has inspired a large number of interesting comments.... Obama seems to have spent an inordinate amount of time fretting over his identity. Perhaps that's part of his cross over appeal. All Americans have this in common: we are alienated to a greater or larger extent from our culture. I don't understand pop music, the Kardashians, and the buttons on my telephone. We're all adrift. We don't have a rudder and wouldn't know which way to steer if we had one. We can tap into Obama's confusion and alienation with greater ease than Romney's homogenity and ease......I'll vote for Romney, but it seems to me that he has never had a moment of hesitation, self doubt, anxiety, or despair in his life. Obama's persona is a carefully constructed mask, but there's more authenticity to his phoniness than to Romney's reality.

William said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Father was an absent african philandering muslim. Mother didn't appear to love me. Who am I? What should I become. Life with grandparents is stable and dull. I want to be someone, if just to prove everyone wrong.

And then as you age and experience you find your parents had a strong effect on you even with their absence. It colored your whole life with unexpected opportunities. Most you wasted. Most you saw only in hindsight. But hey here you are. You are POTUS. The past can't really have been that bad.

Unknown said...

the gear shift here is whether or not black will become brown. There is a strong astro turfed resonance in place to try an order dissent in America along brown line not black lines. It gives more power. But it needs a lot more victims to fuel it. So a huge victim industry has grown that trys to catch kids out of the womb. "Hey kid, you're a victim. Get used to it and start thinking like a victim. That will be 10 dollars please."

Balfegor said...

RE: William:

I'll vote for Romney, but it seems to me that he has never had a moment of hesitation, self doubt, anxiety, or despair in his life. Obama's persona is a carefully constructed mask, but there's more authenticity to his phoniness than to Romney's reality.

What is that even supposed to mean?

Unknown said...

Balfegor,
dust children in Vietnam.
Or try marrying into a traditional Korean family.

Times are changing. But racial purity is still a strong motivator all over Asia.

In Brazil, the measurements are taken differently than in the US. When the census adds a multiracial mutt checkbox to it's forms race will start to become less of an issue.

Unknown said...

If a person was black would they adopt a needy white child?
If a person was white would they adopt a needy black child?

That's a poll CNN is afraid to publish.

holdfast said...

The minority assimilated into the dominant culture, not the other way around.

Uh, yeah. That's how assimilation works. God he's dumb.

Pastafarian said...

Althouse, this is a brilliant post. This blog is the only place I've ever found this sort of analysis.

I might just have to buy this damned book. But to be honest, I'd rather buy a version annotated by Althouse.

These excerpts really make you feel for Obama, how alienated he felt, how much self loathing, and loathing of others, he had inside of him. And it becomes apparent just what a damaged person he is. It's chilling to think that someone with this much hatred of his white half, this much contempt for white people, American culture, capitalism, and anyone who doesn't toe the party line, sits in the Oval Office.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

because I had to know what "I Am The Walrus" was all about (I'd never heard anything like it).

Did you figure it out? Because this Celtic gal never could understand what it meant either.

[Ordinary childhood incident] "
It's Obama thinking that it is unique to being black, and related to oppression that is disturbing"


Yes. Not everything is related to race or oppression. Having been the "new kid" in school many many times, as often as 5 or 6 times in a school year due to my parents moving for job purposes, I got quite used to the nastiness and bullying that can happen in the tribal society known as children.

What I learned that none of it was personal to me and that it didn't matter what people thought of me. It was just part of being the 'outsider' or the 'unknown'. Some kids would be fun and kind others mean and nasty and try to get the others to gang up on you. It really didn't matter, they didn't matter, because in a few weeks or months, we would be somewhere else with a new bunch of kids to deal with so there was no point in trying to 'fit in' or to make friends.

I knew who I was and what I could do and not do. We finally settled down about 4th grade for me and I could make some friends.

Obama never seems to have been able to find himself as a person and wants to blame all of his personal troubles on race.

He is still blaming everyone else for his failures from the all purpose punching bag, George Bush to the American Business community to the Oil Companies. He wants to divide us by race and class, because it would give him some self worth.

He is a sad sad damaged man who should never have been elected President. We are all going to suffer for it.

Curious George said...

"the face that drew us in."

Us? There is no "me" in us.

David R. Graham said...

Expanding on the musical metaphor, it could be observed that the subject of faceless is an inversion of the subject of composite, or maybe it's an augmentation, but looks to me more like an inversion. In any case composite is the primary subject of the riff and faceless its integral secondary.

The objective referent is being called bat shit crazy, or words to that effect. Insane people do draw in attention and like it.

AllieOop said...

David R. graham said,

@ JAL - the Blue Star Banner may be displayed by the parent of a deployed Soldier, Airman, etc. No such offspring deploys for as long as you display the Blue Star Banner. If you are a Gold Star Parent you may of course display the Gold Star Banner indefinitely.

5/12/12 1:04 PM

Blue Star Mothers Service Flag

David, you are mistaken, the flag can be displayed in a time of war, whether the active duty military son or daughter is deployed or not.

Pastafarian said...

Althouse: "... a bloggish riff..."

This is why you're hated by the left: When you started composing this post, you weren't sure where it was leading. You're doing it all wrong: You should begin with a position (which has been approved by party higher-ups) and reason backward from there to justify it.

This intellectual honesty is dangerous stuff.

David said...

Obama should have read James Baldwin, who wrote brilliantly about reconciling his alienation and sense of difference (both gay and black) with his realization that he was more strongly influenced by his self identification as an American than as a black or homosexual man. It is a strange thing that Barack Obama, the President of the United States of America, gave so little attention in his book to his American identity.

Danno said...

I really appreciate your dives into the book that nobody must have read (other than yourself) to learn more about Him.

Lem said...

Have reporters located this "Joyce" person who embodied exactly what he needed a character to embody at this point in the memoir? Or is she really Barack Obama, in the guise of a beautiful lady after whom all the "brothers" lusted?

See Althouse.. you got to get with the program.. the campaign motto is forward.. just look forward to whatever Obama says now.. not before.. Dreams is old news.

JAL said...

@ David Graham 1:04

Thanks for the input David.

I guess you missed it when I changed it a while back. I've had a couple avatars, (not that I expect anyone to notice).

I changed it when the second deployment in Iraq ended. That deployment was preceded by the first deployment in Iraq.

Now (and not too long after return from Iraq), the family member is in Afghanistan.

Career military.

Yeah. I think I have the right to display it.

I am proud to be the mother of an American soldier.

JAL said...

Hey Allie -- thanks for the link.

Lem said...

Obamas wasted dream.

frank said...

I see very little difference between the mind of B. Obama and A. Hitler. Both were popularily elected by 'good' Germans and 'good' Americans. What Hath God Wrought?

Balfegor said...

RE: Unknown:

Balfegor,
dust children in Vietnam.
Or try marrying into a traditional Korean family
.

Haha, my grandfather was the 39th generation of his family. I am quite aware of the problems that face any non-Korean marrying into a traditional Korean family.

Times are changing. But racial purity is still a strong motivator all over Asia.

Yes . . . and? What are you responding to?

Comanche Voter said...

Well he's a "faceless" chumpster.
He can be anything you want.

JAL said...

It all depends on what the person is saying. If a person uses "I" to constantly draw attention to his/her accomplishments,

Yes. And ...?

JAL said...

And it's not just the "I".

It's what he does to the "you".

That's a critical point.

The "you" is faceless. The "you" is composite. The "you" is "typical ____" (<--- fill in the blank.)

Adolescents certainly struggle with "identity." Kids raised in an overseas or international culture find life different for them when they move back and forth. Mature adults can be lonely too. But they don't blame it on others, and they don't condemn those who find their way in a way *different from Obama.*

AllieOop said...

JAL, you're welcome. My daughter is career military too, now serving in Afghanistan also. Happy Mother's Day to you!

Lem said...

Good insight professor.

I'm thinking Romney would have to really loose the professor pretty badly for her to vote for a stranger... again?

A great part of America now understands that this president's sense of identification lies elsewhere, and is in profound ways unlike theirs. He is hard put to sound convincingly like the leader of the nation, because he is, at heart and by instinct, the voice mainly of his ideological class. He is the alien in the White House, a matter having nothing to do with delusions about his birthplace cherished by the demented fringe.

yashu said...

it seems to me that [Romney] has never had a moment of hesitation, self doubt, anxiety, or despair in his life.

I doubt very much that's true. But Romney seems the kind of man who keeps himself from publicly exhibiting hesitation, self doubt, anxiety, or despair. He keeps his drama to himself. The stiff-upper-lip type-- hence "robotic." Who only shares those moments of hesitation, self doubt, anxiety, or despair with his wife Ann. Or God.

I doubt Romney would ever write a (pseudo)introspective (pseudo)confessional touchy-feely memoir like this, which (ostensibly) reveals so much about his psychological and emotional struggles. I doubt that, even under the worst kinds of attacks from Obama and the MSM, you'll ever see from him the kind of behavior we sometimes saw from other candidates under pressure during the primaries-- anger and peevishness and whining.

If he becomes POTUS, I doubt we'll ever see him talk about how difficult the job is and how hard he's working for us and the long days and nights, slings and arrows, terrible struggles and anxieties he endures for us, the overwhelming Atlas-like weight of responsibility he must bear when making a "gutsy call." (How often do we hear that from or about Obama?) Romney will just do the job he signed up for, do what's expected of a POTUS without making a big deal of it, without playing the hero and/or martyr before an audience of the American people.

Doesn't mean he won't feel a great deal of strain, stress, anxiety, and worse-- but he's not going to ask the American people to feel sorry for him or apotheosize him just for doing his job, the job of a POTUS. In that sense, he may make it look easy. But I bet he'll be working 1000X harder than Obama ever did.

I don't know about you, but that's the kind of guy I want as POTUS.

Cf. Bush. Much more expressive and openly emotional than Romney, but he also had that Stoic stiff-upper-lip streak: he just did his job without whining or vaunting about it, and in that sense made it look easy. Cf. all the mocking he got for that 9/11 "My Pet Goat" moment: he kept total calm, didn't give those kids any hint of worry, because at that moment there was no need to lay that on those children.

Whereas Obama would probably have made that moment all about him. He'd never let us forget how incredibly tough, difficult, stressful 9/11 was on him.

Peter said...

While the term "multiracial" has been around for decades, until fairly recently it was not common for people of mixed background to use that label. Many still don't. At the time of Obama's encounter with "Joyce," she almost certainly would have described herself as black.

There is something odd about Black identity in the US, in that it seems (to an outsider) to be a lot more all-or-nothing than any other racial mix ... Whereas with half-Blacks, quarter-Blacks, etc., it seems like there is strong pressure to self-identify as "Black"

Of course, that's the infamous One Drop Rule. It may not be quite as rigid as it was in the past, but it's far from dead.
Note that the rule only applies with respect to black ancestry. It has never applied to people of part Asian ancestry, and in any event there are few if any tangible benefits to identifying oneself as Asian rather than white (most assuredly NOT the case with black self-identification).

roesch/voltaire said...

This is an interesting mis-reading of the passages.To suggest that "This is a vicious rejection of the desire to be seen as an individual. He equates it to the subordination of black people" misses the historical mark. The character in Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man depicts the unnamed African American who considers himself socially invisible-- faceless. The mix-race struggle of living in the Shadows depicted in movie of the same title, is another take on the subject. This is not a rejection of the the individual, but an ironic realization that in this culture a black individual will be just that -- existing in a white culture that likes to think of itself as neutral and objective-- sort of like many folks here.

wyo sis said...

The framers of the Constitution must have seen the possibility of an Obama type character becoming president when they wrote it.
It's as disquieting to think Obama wrote "Dreams of My Father" as it is to think Bill Ayers wrote it. Whoever wrote it is not a person I want making decisions for me or my country. If Obama didn't write it, but let it go out there as if he did he's as much a problem as if Ayres were president. Neither could get a security clearance to be even a TSA agent.
I would worry less about the personality of the president if all of the original constitutional checks and balances were securely in place.

ricpic said...

Roeschi drops another odorless turd.

The Crack Emcee said...

Dust Bunny Queen,

Did you figure ["I Am The Walrus"] out? Because this Celtic gal never could understand what it meant either.

Oh yeah - it's garbage. [kidding]

phx said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nichevo said...

Cracky, my man, will you let me try to explain something to you? Something which I suppose you know.

We were flying along for eight years in the cranky but high-performing F-102 Delta Dart, George W. Bush's fighter. Like Bush, who was flawed but a good man and true.

In 2006, there was some grinding in the turbines, due probably to ingesting an excess of Democrats in the left intake. Now the ship is running a little rough.

Transitioning from Flight Level 2008 to 2009, we've started making smoke. Sadly, the new Obama autopilot seems to want to kick in full afterburner while pointing the nose right at the ground.

In other words, we are going to crash, and the pilot will be a pancake, unless first he dies screaming in a cockpit full of the sort of evil black smoke (no racist intent there ;>) that only a jet on fire can produce.

That is Choice #1.

Choice #2 is Romney. Reboot the main computer like Anakin in Star Wars I and see if that helps; shut down the port engine and try to limp home on the starboard turbine; cut both engines, dump all fuel, deadstick into the nearest stretch of road; crash-land in a wheatfield; or eject. Maybe ventilate the cockpit if that is an option.

Maybe Romney is one of those (say, crash-land) and Perry, say, was RTB on one engine, and Cain or Gingrich was something else.

But those options are not available, or they have been tried but failed. So what you seem to want is God, or failing that R2D2, to stick his finger into the engine and fix it.

OK, we're at Flight Level 2012...looks to me like we're going to crash if we don't pull out by 2013, don't you?

So, go out in a fiery hole with your lungs burning up inside faster than your exposed skin outside - gee, if you're lucky you'll last until you augur in -

or turn off the Obamapilot and try to do SOMETHING with the plane. Even if the answer is eject. Even if ejecting into a wilderness or hostile territory.

MC, Obama has got to go. There is no principled third option. This is like 1932, the last chance to turn Germany around. You cannot refuse to choose either Hitler or Hindenberg, but throw your vote to Thalmann or Gypsy Rose Lee.

Do you want Hitler, or don't you?

Crack, if you think Romney is worse than Obama, just say so. If not, get behind your flawed, kinda bad, not too good, candidate, and fucking PUSH.

TINA. There Is No Alternative. Sorry, man, I was a Perry guy, since Cheney didn't run, nor Giuliani, nor Palin. He crashed and burned too. Fair? Hell no. Deal with it.

ABO.

No?

Be real, man. Do you want us to drink a barrel of wine with a spoonful of sewage, or a barrel of sewage with a spoonful of wine?

Penny said...

I should probably read the entire book before commenting, but ...

If I were former revolutionary, Bill Ayers, I would have been pissed that anyone thought I could write this.

I would have immediately suggested my wife, Bernadette, would have made the better ghostwriter.

William said...

@yashu: I agree with you 100% that Romney will make the better President, but he will never inspire such interesting blog posts and comments.....@Balfegor: Obama wears a mask. Romney doesn't. People give more credibility to Obama's mask and head fakes than to Romney's awkward, plodding sincerity......About masks: There's another mask that blacks wear beside the Uncle Tom one. Eldridge Cleaver had several metamorphoses. When he was a Black Panther who regarded rape as a kind of growth experience, he was cheered by Ivy League audiences for his wise insights. Later on when he turned Republican, he was jeered by those same crowds. Before a certain sector of the white populace, a black man gains credibility and respect, if he feigns hostility towards those Other Whites, the ones not so enlightened as Ivy League audiences. I think Obama was playing to that crowd. I don't know if deep down he feels any real alienation from white society. The Uncle Eldridge mask is just a way of functioning in white society.

Penny said...

The other thing that crosses my mind is how distraught Obama must be for leaving "his people" in much worse shape than they were when he took office.

Jay said...

the face that drew us in

"Us"?

The 52% that were duped, yeah.

Me? I stood in line for 2 hours to vote against this bigoted, clueless idiot with angry "let them eat cake" wife.

wyo sis said...

Nichevo
Thank you.

chickenlittle said...

Penny said: I would have immediately suggested my wife, Bernadette, would have made the better ghostwriter.

I wish somebody would stick a fork in both Ayers and Dohrn. They are so done. Wild!

J said...

He's a huckster who drew in dumb blondes like Althouse.

Don't you feel shame that you voted for this clown? You should.

ken in sc said...

The minority assimilated into the dominant culture, not the other way around.

This is not true now. I doubt if it ever was. In any 6th grade class, most of the white boys and many of the white girls are gangsta wanna bees. They all talk like thugs and hoes. None of the blacks act white.

Retired Teacher.

Kirk Parker said...

Unknown,

I can relate (2nd-hand) to what you're saying, except in one small particular: an explanation why Obama's the way he is does not somehow mean that that way can't be called 'narcissism' if that's in fact what it is.

Oh, gosh, then there's this: "I felt like we needed someone who was better at that than his predecessor." That's just wrong in so many ways. First of all, when did Oboma ever exhibit that skill? When he was running through all that money at the Annenberg (sp?) Challenge with no real results to show for it? When he became a coddled-by-the-machine Democratic state politician in IL? Meanwhile, before the demon press got ahold of him, Bush actually did have a reputation for bipartisanship while governor of Texas.

CharlesVegas said...

"faceless" used once in Prairie Fire and once in Fugitive Days.

meh. Not enough to convict.

Juba Doobai! said...

The big question is when DID Obama grow tired of not talking about race? The guy is a racist. All he does is talk race.

The other question is how many blacks were there at Occidental and Columbia when Obama was there for him to talk about the brothers in the dorm? I was at Columbia when Obama was there, and most of the blacks were foreign, and they didn't call themselves brothers in the way that black Americans do. They may refer to each other as my brother when speaking, but don't have a collective brothers.

I can't recall if there was a BSU in those days.

John Lynch said...

It's 4 years too late to be delving into this.

Craig said...

Is 'faceless' a synonym for the 'invisibility' Ralph Ellison described in The Invisible Man? Who is Adam Sunraider?

Matthew Sablan said...

"But Romney seems the kind of man who keeps himself from publicly exhibiting hesitation, self doubt, anxiety, or despair."

-- Nah, he has this nervous laugh that is just absolutely grating.

Ralph L said...

I wonder how much interaction black people in large public housing projects have with the "white" world in order to build up the hatred Obama/Ayers projects onto them. The white police became the enemy for arresting their violent, predatory, or drug-dealing young men, but they'll accept living in a war zone when the police pull back.

Nora said...
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David R. Graham said...

JAL and Allie, you're right, I stand corrected on that point. We can redisplay our banners with two Blue Stars each.

SH said...

"This is a vicious rejection of the desire to be seen as an individual. He equates it to the subordination of black people."

Yep; he said it straight up when talking about the 'price paid' by black people who moved to the suburbs.

It’s the game the left plays with its interests groups. You’re a sell out if you don't alienate yourself from the main culture... and if the main culture rejects you since you come off as hostile to it... it is due to bigotry of some kind which just proves the left’s claims about the main culture.

So; if African Americans live in the suburbs… and don’t encounter bigotry / fit in… they’re sell outs… Heads I win, tails you loose.

CosmicConservative said...

Ann... what is so disturbing about your entire approach to Obama in 2012 is how much it reveals about your entire approach to Obama in 2008. You and several million other idiots whose incompetence and self-serving desire to be seen as "enlightened" have burdened this nation with four years of this man.

Thanks loads Ann.

You New said...

A. Althouse, your best I've read yet. Nice find.

Some people seems peaved that you got tingled by the handsome baritone. They saw the one-trick pony when he came out with his revue and blurry halo camera shots and you didn't. They got stepped on when they tried to speak up a few years ago, so their hubris is understandable. Don't take it personally, you might owe 'em a drink.

As it is, you can look into Anything Obama and you will see some sort of mental illness peeking out from the dark. But who really wants to see such ugliness as Obama's mind. Now it is obvious that you are willing to take a straight look, and I appreciate that.

Dan said...

"... the face that drew us in."

Who's "us", Kemosabe? I'm still trying to see what anybody ever saw in this shallow doofus.

CosmicConservative said...

"You Knew"... perhaps I would not be as angry at people like Ann if four years ago their ignorance and unwillingness to confront truth in favor of a "tingle up their leg" wasn't used as evidence of what a racist, warmongering hater I obviously was to be opposed to such a wonderful healing person who was going to bring this nation together.

Yeah, it's nice that after four years Ann and others like her are willing to accept their previous error and move on, but that's four years too late.

Barack Obama has at the very best set this nation back 30 years. At worst he has launched us over the cliff of financial ruin already.

I don't mind if people think I'm bitter or angry.

I damn well am.

JAL said...

David R. Graham said...
JAL and Allie, you're right, I stand corrected on that point. We can redisplay our banners with two Blue Stars each.

Yeah. Isn't Althousia great. :-) One finds out all kinds of useful things in the process of bitching and moaning and smelling the roses.

Tell your family members we appreciate their service. We do.

And display your banner.

Bill M said...

Great, so NOW we know how neurotic the guy with the nuclear weapons really is.

Mike H. said...

Penny said... 5/12/12 16:57 "The other thing that crosses my mind is how distraught Obama must be for leaving "his people" in much worse shape than they were when he took office."

Obama doesn't have any people, except those who do his bidding.

Cargosquid said...

How hard could it be to find Joyce?

How many Joyces were there at that school at that time, with an Italian last name?

Real American said...

the DUPES got drawn in by the face - the lies. NOT ME!

John C. Drew, Ph.D. said...

I met the young Obama while he was a sophomore at Occidental College. My view is more along the lines that he did not have a black bone in his body. The young Obama I knew appeared to be white in a cultural and intellectual sense. He was raised by a white family and it showed.

Martin said...

So, this "Joyce" didn't want to associate with the blacks on campus because they would not accept her for who she was and made her feel uncomfortable by insisting she had to become something she didn't want to be. Seems to me that they were rejecting her, not that she was rejecting them.

Obam is one very sick puppy.. always has been, and it's always been obvious to anyone who chose to look.