Selwyn Duke
All the president's bigoted men
By Selwyn Duke
August 17, 2009

When Barack Obama said that the Henry Louis Gates affair was a teaching moment, he spoke truly. But the key is ensuring that the right things are taught and the right people learn. Unfortunately, this is unlikely to happen.

There is no need to rehash the events of July 16 chapter and verse. We all know about how the Harvard professor flew into a rage of racial accusations and haughty posturing after Sergeant James Crowley appeared at his Cambridge home to investigate a report of a possible break-in. We've heard that Gates called Crowley a "racist" and said he was being targeted because "I'm a black man in America." We know how Barack Obama stirred the pot, saying at a press conference that he didn't know all the facts but then averring that the police "acted stupidly." And we also know that it's a foot-in-mouth moment Obama wishes he could do a Groundhog Day on, and that he fancies a beer a substitute for an apology.

Moreover, the obvious points have already been made. We know that the police were simply following procedure in requesting Gates' identification and asking that he step outside his home. It has also been mentioned that, far from the police racially profiling the man, he and Obama applied that technique in assuming that the white police officer was bigoted and/or acting stupidly. And, in keeping with last point, some of the boldest commentators even have hinted that bigotry may lie in the hearts of Gates and Obama. Yet no one has thus far dared expose the pretense.

I didn't need the Gates affair, eye-opening for some, to understand the nature of a Gates or of Obama. Immediately upon learning of Gates' existence, I knew he was another one of the president's many, many bigoted men. And even before Obama dared stray beyond the guiderails of the teleprompter and commented on the matter, I knew that another one of the president's bigoted men stared back at him every day in the mirror.

In reality, I knew this even before learning of yet another one of the president's bigoted "men," Sonia "Wise Latina" Sotomayor and even, actually, prior to being bombarded with the bile of his most notorious bigoted man, Reverend Jeremiah Wright. I knew it for a very simple reason.

For all intents and purposes, politically liberal blacks are by definition bigoted.

This is true virtually to a man.

Of course, we all know what is coming. Many will say that I'm prejudiced for painting all the members of such a large group with the same brush. But let's note that "prejudice" in the negative sense denotes an unfavorable opinion about a person, group or thing that has no basis in reality. For instance, the Wise Latina had her foot-in-mouth moment when she said, "I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life." However, if this had a basis in reality, it would not be a prejudice. So let's examine whether or not my assertion has that basis.

I'll begin by emphasizing two things, the first of which will make it seem as if I'm being politically correct and the second of which will disabuse the reader of that notion. First, it goes without saying that there are blacks who aren't bigoted — they also aren't liberal. There are my two favorite economists, Walter Williams and Thomas Sowell; the man I want as president, Alan Keyes; talk show host Larry Elder; minister and head of B.O.N.D Jesse Lee Peterson; and many, many others. Between this ideological set and politically liberal blacks is another basic group, one epitomized by Colin Powell. While its members are weak sisters philosophically, it wouldn't be fair to describe all of them as bigoted.

Now for the second thing: even putting the Keyes and Powell groups together, percentagewise they are part of a very small minority.

Now let's move on. In the movie Boyz N' the Hood, the father character, played by Laurence Fishburne, gives a motivational speech about how the presence of alcohol and gun stores in South Central L.A. is the result of a white conspiracy. Note that he is cast in the film as the wise patriarch, a voice of reason.

Of course, this is Hollywood, but it's also a case of art imitating life. We long ago learned about the large numbers of black people who believe the AIDS virus is the result of a white conspiracy to wipe out blacks. And this paranoia also explains countless everyday interactions. For instance, some years ago there was the story of that public official who used the word "niggardly" at a meeting, and I documented the woes of Illinoisan David Gonzalez, who, replying to a query, told a black co-worker that a symbol he was wearing was a clan badge (Scottish clan, a symbol of ethnicity). In both cases, the men were targeted by bigoted leftist blacks who were sure they were prejudiced.

Then there is bigoted Obama man Attorney General Eric Holder, who mentioned that he also was "profiled" by the police in this nation of cowards. Now, I don't doubt that he believes he was unjustly targeted, but, then, I know something else: I've been "profiled" as well. I could tell you about a couple of incidents in which I was pulled over simply because I was in the wrong place, in the wrong kind of vehicle and, in one case, the wrong age. This, not to mention that I was the wrong sex — remember, the police view men much more suspiciously than women because, like some other groups, they commit an inordinate amount of the crime (note that the complaints of profiling we hear always involve black men). Then there is that esteemed academic Professor Gates, who was sure that Sgt. Crowley was a "'racist' police officer." And there are many other such examples.

Now, why would anyone read bigoted motives into innocent things? It's not always a Machiavellian playing of the race card, I can assure you. There is another reason.

We've all had experiences with those who are prejudiced against an individual. It might have been a mother-in-law who just couldn't stand her son's wife, or a person who, after years of marital conflict, was fatally biased against his spouse. And when you thus hate someone, it's so often the case that you view him through colored glasses. His trespasses are then never innocent mistakes, are they? And are his errant comments ever just slips of the tongue? No, they're the result of evil motives, a desire to target you for attack. The thinking is, "You know, that's just the kind of thing that scum of the Earth would do!" In reality, we'd do well to bear in mind that you should "Never attribute to malice what is better explained by stupidity," but the prejudiced person will never distinguish between the innocent and insidious. For hatred is like darkness: the more there is, the less you can see.

It is no different with politically liberal blacks. Gates, AIDS conspiracy theorists, the niggardly-and-clan police and many others are just sure that those who "offended" them are bigoted because, well, that's just what white people do.

Also note that the demonization of whites is part of leftist dogma (I refute this here). This was apparent even four decades ago when feminist Susan Sontag infamously proclaimed, "The white race is the cancer of human history." And the idea gains ever more currency. In fact, I have encountered numerous whites who have expressed such sentiments, including a man online recently who wrote that he was "ashamed" to be white.

Yet, if such anti-white loathing is present among leftist whites out of a sense of being "oppressors," how much more prevalent is it among leftist blacks, who view themselves as the oppressed? The answer is that it's common enough — and accepted enough — so that another one of the president's bigoted men, Reverend Joseph Lowery, was given the podium and allowed to pray for a day "when white will embrace what is right" during Obama's inauguration. Oh, and Obama didn't say he was sorry for that, either. It just seems that he only apologizes to those he considers alien when they reside overseas.

Then we have that old political observation about how blacks are actually quite conservative culturally. This evidenced itself just last November when 70 percent of blacks voted for California's Proposition 8, which defined marriage as the union between a man and woman, versus only 49 percent of whites. Now, while the phenomenon of black cultural conservatism is certainly exaggerated a bit, we have to ask, why would such a group vote Democrat 95 percent of the time? The answer is race. There is a strong feeling in the black community that the Republicans are the white party, which is no doubt why Screaming Howard Dean played upon this stereotype in 2008. And to rise above this — as Alan Keyes and the other fine gentlemen I've mentioned have done — is to transcend leftist politics itself.

As for politically liberal blacks, the reality is that they are consumed by race. They live and die with it, eat it and breathe it. As an example, consider a certain affirmation black women sometimes utter to young black boys: "You're going to grow up to be a strong, young black man!" Now, this isn't designed simply to reassure the lads that they're not going to go the way of Michael Jackson. There is another reason.

Everyone tends to define himself in some manner, viewing some particular status as central to his being. This should be "child of God" but usually is something else; it could be the quite wholesome identity of "father" or "mother," or it could be "policeman," "doctor" or "athlete." Then again, it could also have to do with one's group.

In the case of politically liberal blacks, they identify so closely with their race that there simply is little, if any, separation between them and it. As an example of how this manifests itself, consider Congressman Sheila Jackson-Lee's 2005 statement during a House discussion, "I came here as a slave; I now want the right to vote!" Now, just for the record, this woman isn't 175 years old. But was it just a manner of speaking? Well, when I gave a talk about so-called racial profiling at a Toronto symposium some years back, I took questions afterwards and one I fielded was from a black student. He began by passionately saying, "There was a time when you and I couldn't drink out of the same water fountain . . . ."

He was about 16 years old.

Rest assured, it's not that these folks had a Shirley MacLaine vision of a past life. It is that identification. In their universe, "I" am the group; the group is me. Anything that has happened to the group has happened to me, and any characterization of the group is a characterization of me. The latter is, by the way, one reason why people (of any group) exhibiting this phenomenon cannot abide any criticism of their group. Their self-image is so intertwined with the image of the collective that anything diminishing the latter diminishes the former. This helps explain why such people will jump through hoops to rationalize away unflattering facts about their groups. It sheds light on why individuals such as Obama can say that blacks get stopped by law enforcement disproportionately while ignoring the reason for it: they commit crimes disproportionately. The black person who has amalgamated group and self cannot acknowledge this fact because, in his mind, it would be tantamount to saying that he was criminally inclined. It would make him feel like less as a person.

Now, there is a funny thing about hang-ups. Many of us have them, but we usually don't recognize them as hang-ups. We don't realize that our hang-ups are just that: things that seem all-important and ever-relevant because they're blown out of proportion in our minds and hearts. Rather, we think they seem all-important because they are so. And here is the crux of the matter: because we believe this, we assume other people have recognized their importance as well and thus must also make them a priority. In other words, blacks who place race at the center of their being will assume that whites would, recognizing the importance of this factor, follow suit.

This perspective explains a lot. It explains why a black man who hears a white guy utter a word that sounds vaguely like a racial epithet or who is asked to step out of his home by a white cop reads bigoted motives into the situations. It explains why many blacks, despite being advantaged by an affirmative-action society, believe they've experienced great "racism." Is it real or is it Memorex? When you interpret all the normal bumps and stumbles of human interaction as expressions of bigotry, you certainly have experienced great "racism." That is, at least in your own mind.

Couple the above perspective with the fact that many blacks are told from toddlerhood on that the white man has kept them down (just think of the kids in Jeremiah Wright's church), and it explains something else. We've all heard the leftist shtick about how only whites can be "racist," which is based on the convenient interpretation that being so requires power, something only whites possess (untrue itself). Of course, since "racism" was originated by leftists to facilitate their arguments, they can define it any way they want. This is why I avoid the term and instead try to use "bigotry" — I reject their lexicon. Yet, this language manipulation is driven by something real, something substantive, and it harks back to what I said earlier about prejudice.

You see, when you view the object of your hatred as truly evil ("white devils," anyone?), then, in your eyes, your feelings aren't actually prejudice, are they? They cannot be because you will view them as having a basis in reality. In other words, you can't be "racist" because, by gum, you have a right to hate evil. And this is of course a common failing of man; other people may be wrong to hate, but, well, we're different. We have a reason to despise our bogeymen.

Of course, because I wrote this essay, many people will hurl that r-word at me. But who really is prejudiced? Who really has drawn conclusions that have no basis in reality? If I'm wrong in what I've said, then, sure, perhaps it is me. If I'm wrong, then you may have reason to suspect I'm hung-up. But if I'm right, then I have just explained for you the Gateses, Lowerys and Wrights of the world — and the Obamas. If I'm right, it means we have put someone who is hung-up — and perhaps hateful — in the White House.

© Selwyn Duke


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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