The White-Racism Chorus

Did Attorney General Eric Holder really want honest talk when in February he called for "frank conversations" about race?

"Honest" talk, as the MSM and much of the chattering Left defines it, consists of slamming most whites as racist.

Thus, Jimmy Carter, Maureen Dowd, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, among many others, get bravery rewards for speaking truth to power in recent days. That is, white power, which is a constant, whoever occupies the White House.

According to the latest Rasmussen's national telephone survey, a mere 12 percent of voters believe that most opponents of the president's health-care-reform plan are racist.

Carter has concluded that Obama critics are "overwhelmingly" racist. Johnson, a self-appointed spokeswoman for black America, has declared that most African Americans agree with Dowd, who wrote: "Some people just can't believe a black man is president and will never accept it." When Rep. Joe Wilson (D., S.C.) shouted, "You lie!" during the president's health-care speech, well, obviously the "unspoken word in the air" was "boy."

Evidently, in the view of critics, the president is just an "uppity black man."

Republicans treat Obama differently than white presidents, Rep. James Clyburn has decided. One could reply, "You lie!" But the charge was actually much too tame for his Congressional Black Caucus colleague, Hank Johnson (D., Ga.) who envisioned white "folks putting on white hoods and white uniforms again and riding through the countryside, intimidating people." Other CBC members--Charles Rangel (D., N.Y.) and Diane Watson (D., Calif.), for instance--have joined the white-racism chorus.

It's a chorus with a loud voice, but few members. It is heard, but its message is rejected. According to the latest Rasmussen's national telephone survey, a mere 12 percent of voters believe that most opponents of the president's health-care-reform plan are racist. Sixty-seven percent disagree and 21 percent are not sure. Nice numbers, but the partisan breakdown is sobering: 88 percent of Republicans reject the racism notion, as do 78 percent unaffiliated with either party. On the other hand, only four out of ten members of the president's own party agree.

In other words, although about 60 percent of Obama's votes came from whites, 60 percent of Democrats deeply distrust the racial views of white Americans. Did they just discover the man is black? And do the collapsed poll numbers of New York governor David Paterson and Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick also reflect a sudden racial awareness?

Needless to say, no.

It's a sad and dangerous moment in American politics. As Stanford law professor Richard Thompson Ford has written, "self-serving individuals, rabble-rousers, and political hacks use accusations of racism . . . to advance their own ends." Those accusations provoke "resentment rather than thoughtful reaction."

Is that what Democrats want? The American public did not and would not have elected a Jesse Jackson figure. And yet the Jackson voice in the Congressional Black Caucus and some MSM circles is alive and well. Surely the president has to be thinking, with such friends, who needs enemies?

Disown them, Barack.

Abigail Thernstrom is an adjunct scholar at AEI. She is the author of Voting Rights--and Wrongs: The Elusive Quest for Racially Fair Elections (AEI Press, June 2009).

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