Saturday, June 07, 2008

MORE LIFESTYLE CONSERVATISM. To better prepare us for the nightmare of Obamaism, Andrew Ferguson of The Weekly Standard warns that Hyde Park, Obama's Chicago neighborhood, is "different from anywhere in America."

First, William Ayers lives there.
"He's a guy who lives in my neighborhood," Obama said with a shrug... Obama's casual dismissal led people all across America, people who live in all kinds of communities without bombers, to look at each other and say: "Wow, what kind of neighborhood does Barack live in?"
Clearly the world has been waiting for this article. (Next week: an expose on Albuquerque, New Mexico, where Mark Rudd lives.) After beating up Brookline, Massachusetts as a warm-up, Ferguson tells us more:
[Hyde Park] is the most racially integrated neighborhood in the nation's most racially segregated city.
Now we're getting to the real dirt.
On three sides it is closed in by some of the most hellish slums in the country, miles of littered streets, acres of abandoned lots, block after block of shuttered storefronts and empty apartment buildings left over from the 19th century. These terminate abruptly at the edge of Hyde Park and give way to shade trees and lawns and stately brick mansions and huge, tidied-up apartment houses.
Ferguson tells us that long ago the University of Chicago effected the isolation of the neighborhood, building a "moat" to separate it from the downcast South Side. As a result, "Hyde Park lacks the freewheeling energy of a college town, and it lacks the surprises and variety of a healthy city neighborhood." It has no theatres, and not many good restaurants.

It sounds, in short, like a typical American suburb. I'm at least as suspicious of gentrification as Ferguson seems to be, but one would think this would endear Obama to millions of Americans who live in similar circumstances, even if their separation from the feared Other was the result of white flight, not a university real estate scam.

But, as with much else in this election season, the hook is really that Obama is black. Ferguson informs us that the black people who live in Hyde Park are rich, and that Hyde Parker Obama is viewed by some locals as "the white man in blackface in our community." After services at Trinity, which is in a much less palmy neighborhood than his own, Obama "would get the family in the car and go home" rather than hang out on a stoop for some ribs and a Mickey's Big Mouth.

As for Obama's neighbors, they too suffer from an authenticity shortfall. There is an "alarmingly high number of men wandering about looking like NPR announcers--the wispy beards and wire rims, the pressed jeans and unscuffed sneakers, the backpacks and the bikes." I guess if they weren't living in this hothouse environment, they'd be wearing Confederate flag t-shirts and driving pick-ups.

The idea that Obama, unlike Chris Rock in Head of State, has done alright for himself and lives accordingly is old news to most of us. But for the highly specific readership of The Weekly Standard, his nice house in a nice neighborhood summons ancient enmities: If black people and white people live together harmoniously, it is only because "paternalism" has shifted the natural order, and the strange clothing and high education level of such people are just further proof of their unnaturalness.

No comments:

Post a Comment