Alex Massie


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There's a rather odd notion in some circles that black people voting for Barack Obama on the grounds that he is black is itself somewhat racist. Here's Iain Dale for instance:

I could hardly believe my ears this morning, listening to my old mucker Yasmin Alibhai-Brown on 5 Live, talking about the US election. Shelagh Fogarty quoted a poll saying that 97% of black voters in America are supporting Obama. She asked Yasmin if she thought it was OK for black people to vote for him purely because he is black. Yasmin said yes, she thought it was absolutely fine.

I wonder what she would have said to white voters voting for McCain purely on the basis that he is white. Sadly that question wasn't asked.

This, alas, strikes me a somewhat simple-minded nitwittery. Nitwittery that also ignores history. Black voters who voted for Obama weren't voting against McCain because the latter is white. However we know that there have been plenty of people who vote against black candidates on the basis of their skin. There's a world of difference between a positive reason for voting for a given candidate and a negative one. That's to say that white voters voting for McCain because he's white are really voting against Obama because he's black. The reverse does not hold. After all, black voters have had plenty of practice voting for white candidates. In any case, the rules are different for minorities as, generally speaking, they should be.

Anyway, read this post - by a black libertarian - to have a sense of what this all means. I think most white folk do not truly appreciate just how momentous an event this is for black Americans. I mean, we know that it must be and we can see and appreciate the joy our black friends are feeling, but we can't, for obvious reasons, feel it in our bones to anything like the same extent. A good day, however.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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