Sunday, October 7, 2007

Performing Whiteness? Obama on Pakistan

Senator Obama gives the appearance of being unprincipled and politically irresponsible (which probably is not his intention) by suggesting that he might order strikes within Pakistan against so-called terrorists. So what makes Senator Obama any different than President Bush? Like Bush in Iraq he would enter sovereign territory in Pakistan and carry out unilateral operations there that violate norms of international law.

Obama=Bush in this particular regard.

I am criticizing his statement because he has not withdrawn it or qualified it in any way. He should retract this statement immediately. We have to hold our political leaders accountable for what they say and do.

Obama's statement troubles me because I am a person of color and a South Asian who is a critically thinking and ethically responsible U.S. citizen.

Obama should not be speaking like a white male supremacist/imperialist/colonialist who thinks he can walk into a sovereign nation-state and do what he likes there. This trigger-happy mentality on the part of an aspiring political leader in the U.S. or anywhere else is simply not acceptable in a multipolar, globalized world of divergent interests and perspectives.

The "one drop rule" of race that operates in the U.S. nation-state makes Obama a Black person. As a Black person he should remember and respect his own and brown, yellow, red peoples' collective history of oppression by supremacist whites and he should NOT forget this history and begin acting like a white person (by that I definitely don't mean every white person, I mean whites as a collectivity with a particular history of oppressing other groups, I mean also any white person who is a beneficiary of unearned white privilege, as all white people everyday are and who continues to hold unexamined views about his/her history/place/space in a collective and interdependent world).

Obama's statement that he would favor armed infiltration and action in Pakistan (because that is what he is really suggesting he would do) -- I would characterize his statement as Performed Whiteness. It is part of white male supremacist race-centered thinking. I hope Obama retracts his statement.

Theories are not political soundbytes. In the social sciences, they help us reflect upon and explain behavior, mental processes, symbol systems, social structures, power.

See my Theory of Systemic Whiteness and also its extension as Systemic Casteness.

Dr. Chithra KarunaKaran

Member Anti White Supremacy Task Force (AWSTF)

National Women's Studies Association (NWSA)

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