Here’s part of a New York Times story called “Many Blacks Find Joy in Unexpected Breakthrough”:

“In his remarks Tuesday, Mr. Obama did not mention becoming the first American of color with a real chance at being president of the United States, and, of course, most of the Democrats who had voted for him were white. But for that very reason, many African-Americans exulted Wednesday in a political triumph that they believed they would never live to see. Many expressed hope that their children would draw strength from the moment.

“Not that we’re so distraught, but our children need to be able to see a black adult as a leader for the country, so they can know we can reach for those same goals,” said Wilhelmina Brown, 54, an account representative for U.S. Bank in St. Paul. “We don’t need to give up at a certain level.””

This seems like something no one could take exception to. People are happy, and happiness is a good thing, right?

Not for Tom Maguire. He calls this “absurdity”, and responds to the passage I just quoted as follows:

“How Japanese kids, Chinese kids, or Jewish kids ever make it out of bed in the morning, and why they bother, is left unexplained.”

Read his whole post; it’s all like that.

Why? One possibility, I suppose, is that Tom Maguire is one of those people who has a heart the size of a turnipseed, and as a result just enjoys raining on other people’s parades. Perhaps if I looked through his archives, I’d find lots of posts like this, about all kinds of people:

Newspaper: Charles DeLuca, 78, of West Roxbury said: “Now that the Red Sox have finally won the World Series, I can die happy!”

Tom Maguire: This guy can’t die happy unless his favorite baseball team wins the World Series? Call the waaahmbulance!


Newspaper: But the armed robbery hasn’t spoiled the family Christmas. The people from the Gustavson’s church pitched in to buy their children presents, and Santa himself came by to deliver them. “We’re so grateful”, Mr. Gustavson said. “Thanks to our church, my little girls won’t have to go without presents this year, and that means the world to me.”

Tom Maguire: Would someone please tell this bozo about property insurance?

Somehow, though, I doubt it. Tom Maguire has never struck me as this sort of grinch-like person. Which leaves me with a second possibility: something about the particular people described in the New York Times article set him off.

I wonder what it could be?


For the record: yes, I do mean to imply that the ‘something’ is race. That seems pretty clear from Tom’s post. But I do not mean to imply that Tom Maguire is a racist. (I really don’t.) As I have said before, I have no interest in figuring out what counts as racism and what does not. What I am interested in is the question: when does race play a role in people’s thinking that it should not play? You need to figure out whether race plays such a role in your own thought if you want to answer the question: does something here need changing? That’s the question I’m interested in. It’s a further question whether, and when, that fact shows that there is something seriously wrong with you, above and beyond being human and fallible. I’m not interested in that question: I don’t particularly want to get into questions of blame, which strike me as less important than changing what needs to be changed.

When the fact that people are black makes you respond to their happiness not with a smile, but with disdain; when you find yourself feigning ignorance of the reasons why blacks might have a harder time than other Americans believing that full equality of opportunity extends to them and their children; when you read into their comments about their children some sort of whiny demand that simply is not there;; when parents’ concern that their kids have good role models stops looking completely normal and starts looking like the work of “the race hustlers”, then I think that something does need changing.

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