So now after declaring the “cultural wars” of 2004 won by the left due to the demise of Mel Gibson, Frank Rich has taken on the Sherrod controversy. He comes to the conclusion that race remains a big subject in this country despite the fact that an African-American occupies the White House. This time, he draws his inspiration for this liberal epiphany from the season premiere of “Mad Men” to state the obvious.
Up front, this whole controversy illustrates what happens when sides get into these tit-for-tat wars using the media. Somewhere along the continuum, the lines between truth and a zeal to prove an alternative truth blurs the lines of truth. Making to excuses for Breitbart’s selective editing and posting of a speech, one wonders if he would have been so motivated in the absence of the NAACP’s taking on “racist elements” in the Tea Party. It is just as wrong as those on the left to brandish someone as racist because they don’t happen to buckle under to the politically correct analysis du jour. When pressed, they like to offer up copies of posters of Obama in Nazi regalia at certain rallies while remaining surprisingly silent when Bush was portrayed in Nazi regalia during his Presidency. They like to poit out racial slurs at a Congressman as if (1) they were all Tea Party members protesting that day and (2) those who threw the slurs were representative of the Tea Party in general. These broad-brushed paintings of the opposition serves very little purpose other than to fan already simmering flames. It is as if elements are refusing to let the past die the death it deserves. And they do so because they know of the simmering under current of racial tension that still exists in this country despite enormous gains by blacks in all walks of life- some with the help of government programs, but many more without that help. We should be celebrating those latter success stories.
However, Rich attempts to do just the opposite in his most recent article. He likens the atmosphere today as akin to the 1960s with his mention of murdered civil rights workers in Mississippi via the aforementioned “Mad Men” episode. He reaches even further back and refers to the Breitbart video as the “tarring of Ms. Sherrod.” Bringing us closer to the present, he refers to it as a “high tech lynching-” a phrase made popular, incidentally, by a conservative black jurist named Clarence Thomas. Of course, Rich was busy reviewing Broadway revivals during the Thomas confirmation hearings. But, he was a “political” columnist during the Alito hearings when it was suggested Alito was a closet racist by Ted Kennedy. That is the same Ted Kennedy- the self-proclaimed champion of the black man (and drowned secretaries)- who happened to reside in perhaps the whitest of white Cape Cod enclaves.
As to the assertions that the Tea Party is racist misses the point. Without being an expert on the Tea Party per se, I do know that they are against big government, massive spending and the oppressive taxes that must follow to fund these things. I do know that they do not have as clearly stated goals on social issues, including race relations. If these previously mentioned items are their core beliefs, then they cross racial lines because taxation, spending and an ever-expanding government affects everyone to their detriment regardless of sex, ethnicity, or the color of their skin. This is the point that people like Frank Rich and groups like the NAACP just cannot wrap their small, insulated minds around.
In a very real way, Pat Bucahan’s bombastic assertion that the Administration’s handling of the affair is indicative of Obama’s fear of losing the white vote. He got it only half right. He fears losing the vote not of all whites, but those who fear and worry about his brand of “solution” to the very real problems facing this country. So instead, they obscure the arguments by dragging race into the arguments. Its like the classic class warfare tactics one will hear when debate actually begins on extending the Bush tax cuts. We will hear about how the Democrats are looking out for the middle class while Republicans are looking out for the privileged few- the rich, ignorant of the fact that it is the rich who are going to be the creators of the jobs that people are clamoring for. They will do so ignorant of the fact that business works best in a certain taxation and regulatory environment, where the rules of play are set and not in flux and not buried in over 2,000 pages of legalese.
The bottom line is that this whole controversy is much ado about very little. The debate will end and people will think twice when the name “Breitbart” comes up. That is about the gist of this. As far as the great race debate goes, it will be never-ending. There will be Shirley Sherrods in the future, just as there will be Tawana Brawleys, Duke lacrosse team type controversies, Susan Smiths, and Central Park jogger cases. Race will be used as an excuse by the victims as the motivation for the aberrant behaviors because it is an easy excuse. Discussions of constitutional questions regarding government regulation of private property will be used as an excuse to paint a Senate candidate in Kentucky as a closet racist. Not because whites can argue from a position of historical power, but it would appear that whites have moved beyond the politics of race to a greater degree than blacks who tend to use their race as a crutch to support their liberal ideology. To deny that minorities are devoid of racist tendencies is equally morally bankrupt as saying slavery and its progeny- Jim Crow laws- are not a part of history. But that being recognized, dwelling upon these issues and using every foray off the beaten path to fan the flames as proof positive that things are racially motivated- the Al Sharpton “I see race in every problem” attitude- puts him and his ilk on the same level as Bull Connor and his ilk.
Frank Rich sees the dawning of a new age of burning cities and a seething black anger about to erupt. How things have turned. Instead of mayors or governors standing on steps with axe handles in veiled threats against blacks, we now see equally bizarre black groups standing around polling places with axe handles and night sticks. If it was wrong in the 1960s, it is more wrong NOW whether the perpetrator is black, white, green, or whatever. And arguments over immigration need not descend into a racial or ethnic argument, but rest assured, it will. It is inevitable. As I once read, in their zeal to correct the wrongs of the past, the Freedom Train stopped at Quotaville. I would like to say those days are over, but I am also prepared, unlike the knee-jerk people on either side, to realize otherwise- that race will continue to be used as a card to play to push a political agenda. There is the perfect person in the White House right now to put a stop to this. He and his Administration dropped the ball big time in this case. Unlike Rich, I view this as a sign of his and their ineptitude that is so evident in so many areas. In almost two years, this Administration has inflicted more harm in so many areas in this country than they claim Bush did in his eight years. Hopefully, the American public will awaken from their media-induced hypnosis and realize that Obama is not the messiah he was portrayed as and he will go the way of the political buffalo- Jimmy Carter- and be a one term President.