01 Mar 1999 The Real Racists, by James Coleman
Far too many Americans have it in their heads that racism makes a home on the right wing of our political spectrum.
It is the political left, however, that has presided over the decline of our inner cities. It is people from left-wing circles of thought that equate poverty and minorities, oftentimes using the terms “black” and “poor” interchangeably. This mindset, of course, is the impetus behind “affirmative action” policies for minorities in general and blacks in particular. Leftists assume that all blacks need a hand, even if their last name is Cosby or Winfrey. It is also the left that assumes that black children can’t learn proper English and should therefore not be criticized for speaking “ebonics.” And it is the left that says our children shouldn’t be held to the same academic or ethical standards of “normal” people.
Luminaries of the left, led by people like Jesse Jackson, say we even need to rethink thousands of years of western jurisprudence because black men can’t resist the sort of behavior that lands them in jail. While racism might actually play a role in higher conviction rates among black felons, most of those men had to do something to land in court in the first place. Clearly, leftists see black people as “less than” and “regrettable.”
Now leftists have gone even further into the muck that is racism. When Clarence Thomas was nominated to the Supreme Court, his former co-worker Anita Hill came forward to accuse him of talking about things that were inappropriate in a work situation, especially between a boss and his subordinate. Then-Congresswomen Barbara Boxer and Patricia Schroeder led a deafening call to attempt to deny Thomas his appointment to become an associate justice. At the time, racism didn’t come to my mind despite Justice Thomas’s reference to the campaign against him as a “high-tech lynching.” Since I am not one to look for racism under every rock, I chalked Thomas’s opponents’ tactics up to part of an ideological war.
But that was B.C.: Before Clinton. Now, President Clinton stands accused of rape. Gone are the Coke cans of the Thomas controversy. There are no pubic hairs or no porno movie reviews that dogged Clarence Thomas – this concerns bare, naked, criminal rape. Where is Senator Boxer now? Where is Patricia Schroeder? Why aren’t the feminists storming Capitol Hill demanding “blood” like they did after hearing Anita Hill’s accusations? Is this just another salvo in an ideological war or something more insidious?
In times past, white men could do horrible things and get away with them while blacks could be accused of less and catch hell. Even without knowing for sure if Clinton or Thomas are guilty, the way the accusations are treated speaks volumes about the who is seen as guilty and who is not. A black man alleged to have talked about the size of his sex organ and his sexual prowess with no corroboration sent feminists into hysterics. When a white man was accused of a violent rape with actual physical evidence of an assault, however, feminists turned a deaf ear toward the accuser.
Ideological? Maybe. But in light of liberal attitudes that blacks can’t live up to the same standards as white Americans, it is highly likely that these liberals believe a black man probably did do what that woman said he did. “Everybody knows” that black men can’t control their animal sexuality (or, as Jesse Jackson and his posse might suggest, their antisocial urges).
As much as the opinion-makers might like to paint the conservative movement as the modern home of racism, the double-standard of the left looks a lot like the same double-standard we used to see in the Jim Crow jurisprudence of our not-distant-enough past.
(James Coleman is a member of the African-American leadership network Project 21 and a former member of the Black Panthers. He can be reached at [email protected].)
Note: New Visions Commentaries reflect the views of their author, and not necessarily those of Project 21.