Sanctimonious Elitists Don’t Always Practice As They Preach, by Nick Cheolas

Most liberals enjoy portraying themselves as the champions of minority interests and “social justice,” defending the allegedly defenseless against oppression from the rich and powerful.

But does the liberal elite live by its own rhetorical standards? Not according to author Peter Schweizer. In his new book, Do As I Say (Not as I Do), Schweizer points out the blatant hypocrisy practiced by many of the liberal community’s leading figures.

Consider, for instance, movie director Michael Moore, one of the left’s most high-profile critics of American culture. In his book, Stupid White Men, Moore issued a scathing critique of the white race. “You name the problem, the disease, the human suffering or the abject misery visited upon millions,” Moore wrote, “and I’ll bet you ten bucks I can put a white face on it.”

Moore blasts whites who “make sure to put [the] lone black employee up at the front reception desk” – a symbolic move, he says, meant to deflect charges of racism. He also criticizes whites who “ran like the devil to the suburbs” when blacks moved into their urban neighborhoods.

But, on a personal level, Moore’s actions are more akin to the alleged actions of those he condemns. Of the 134 producers, editors, cinematographers, composers and production coordinators Moore has hired to create his books and movies over the years, Schweizer found only three were black. That’s only 0.02 percent of his employees. The only thing whiter than Moore’s production hires may be his current hometown of Central Lake, Michigan – which is only 0.01 percent black.

How about the person author Toni Morrison called America’s “first black president,” Bill Clinton? In the 1992 campaign, he stressed his commitment to integrated public education and his opposition to school vouchers. He visited D.C. public schools and praised their performance. When he came into office, many naturally expected him to give public education a tremendous boost by enrolling his daughter in a D.C. public school.

But, instead, Chelsea attended the private (and majority white) Sidwell Friends School – one of the area’s most elite institutions. President Clinton seemed to suffer a sudden loss of faith in the same public schools he once touted.

In Congress, Schweizer finds that the situation is no different. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, for example, is a strong proponent of affordable housing. She recently sponsored the National Housing Trust Fund Bill to provide funding for low-income housing projects.

In San Francisco, where Pelosi’s district is located, she pledged to address “the Bay Area’s affordable housing shortage and diverse population” through “creative alternatives in development mortgage resources” in 2000. But she had a chance to fulfill this goal in 1994 during the debate over the fate of the Presidio – a former military complex given to the National Park Service. Many housing activists favored using the space for new affordable housing units, in opposition to those seeking to develop the Presidio land for profit.

Instead of leading the drive for affordable housing, Pelosi drafted the legislation that privatized the park. Stranger still were the actions of groups opposing upscale development. While they didn’t get what they wanted for the poor, Schweizer pointed out they did get low-rent leases for office space on the prime Presidio land.

Pelosi herself later sold a commercial building she owned near the complex, reaping the rewards of the inflated land value.

And these are but three of Schweizer’s examples.

Why do these liberals fail to practice what they preach? It is not because they are racist, but more likely because they are making rational decisions to further their own interests. That’s what we’re all expected to do.

One should be able to buy his dream home with his book earnings, in the case of Michael Moore. It is nonetheless odd when he makes his money criticizing white elitists, only to settle down among them. In the case of Representative Pelosi and former President Clinton, political rhetoric plays well with voters, but seems to be forgotten when making personal business decisions.

Liberal rhetoric may be appealing and popular, but it is often hard to live by. Sacrificing for the common good is a noble goal, but it is unfortunate that those on the left who espouse it don’t seem to have enough faith to live by their own ideals.

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Nick Cheolas is a research associate with the black leadership network Project 21. Comments may be sent to [email protected]. Peter Schweizer is a member of the board of directors of The National Center for Public Policy Research, the parent organization of Project 21. Do As I Say (Not As I Do) is available online at

Published by The National Center for Public Policy Research. Reprints permitted provided source is credited. New Visions Commentaries reflect the views of their author, and not necessarily those of Project 21 or the National Center for Public Policy Research.

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