(Gage Skidmore)

Jonah Goldberg's whitesplainin' again: Ben Carson "more authentically African-American than Barack Obama"

What would the black community do without white conservatives to tell them who really belongs to it?


Scott Eric Kaufman
October 30, 2015 7:44PM (UTC)

National Review's Jonah Goldberg -- best known for the being the son of a woman who knew Linda Tripp, as well as the author of the best-selling work of historical fiction "Liberal Fascism: Two Words Next To Each Other" -- took to the Internet Friday to complain about the lack of media attention being paid to the fact that "Dr. Ben Carson is black."

Writing about a discussion of Carson's appeal on Tuesday's edition of "Morning Joe," Goldberg lamented that "at no point in this conversation did anyone call attention to the fact that Carson is an African-American." Why is it "so intriguingly rare to hear people talk about the fact that he's black"? According to Goldberg, for liberals it's because doing so would call attention to how black President Barack Obama isn't.

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Hiding behind the phrase "[o]ne could argue" -- that's exactly what he's doing, after all -- Goldberg argues that Carson is "even more authentically African-American than Barack Obama, given that Obama’s mother was white and he was raised in part by his white grandparents."

For Goldberg, Carson is "more authentically African-American" because he "grew up in Detroit, the son of a very poor, very hard-working single mother." Praising black single-motherhood is well outside Goldberg's wheelhouse, but kudos on him for trying, even if it was only to score cheap political points against the black community for turning against Carson when "he became a Republican politician."

"[T]hat probably explains why his race seems to be such a non-issue for the media," the nationally syndicated columnist wrote in an article about Carson's race. But he's talking about other members of the media, for whom "the race card is just too valuable politically and psychologically."

The fact that Carson exudes all the charisma of a wet muted tuba is beside Goldberg's point, which is that the real reason the liberal media isn't regularly acknowledging his race is because of his race, which "is just too terrible for some liberals to contemplate," as it demonstrates "that there's no inherent contradiction between being a minority (or a woman) and supporting conservative principles."

That the complex history of racial identification in America forced Obama to, as Goldberg put it, "consciously [choose] to adopt a black identity when he was in college" indicates that he is at least aware that some white people find some black identities more problematic than others. He should, therefore, also be aware that columns like his reinforce this illusion of authenticity for their largely white audiences -- as well as the idea that it's the job of white people to determine who is and isn't black -- but awareness really isn't his strong suit.


Scott Eric Kaufman

Scott Eric Kaufman is an assistant editor at Salon. He taught at a university, but then thought better of it. Follow him at @scottekaufman or email him at skaufman@salon.com.

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

African-american Identity Barack Obama Ben Carson Jonah Goldberg Racism

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