This is how Bob Kerrey, a member of the 9-11 Commission and former Democratic senator from Nebraska, opened his questioning of Condoleezza Rice before the Commission last week:
"Thank you, Dr. Rice. Let me say at the beginning I'm very impressed, and indeed I'd go as far as to say moved by your story, the story of your life and what you've accomplished. It's quite extraordinary."
It is widely believed in universities and in the media that conservatives are more likely than liberals to be racist and sexist. I have long believed that the opposite is true, that most Democratic politicians and most liberal activists, at the very least, do not regard black people as they do all others and, at worst, believe that blacks are inferior. I am similarly convinced that many men who most rail against sexism and advocate feminism hold women in lower esteem.
It is almost inconceivable that Sen. Kerrey would have said anything analogous to any other American (with the possible exception of one from Mexico or Puerto Rico) -- a Japanese, a Jew, a Pole, a German, a Uruguayan -- no matter how impressive their rags to power story.
Here's possible proof. Take the example of another minority individual who rose from worse circumstances than Condoleezza Rice to be the head of American foreign policy -- Dr. Henry Kissinger, secretary of state under President Richard Nixon. His Jewish parents fled Nazi Germany for their lives and brought their teenage son, Henry, to America. In addition to having to adjust to an entirely different culture, a new language and the loss of nearly all the property his family owned, Henry Kissinger grew up aware that many if not all of his Jewish relatives and friends back in Germany were being murdered.
Yet, one cannot imagine a senator beginning a hearing with Henry Kissinger noting how impressed he was with Mr. Kissinger's life story. Why not? Because many liberals and most Democratic leaders do not take blacks and women as seriously as they take whites and men. Blacks and women are regarded more as symbols -- of American and male oppression -- than as real people. Also, whereas a white liberal regards a white male as an individual, the white liberal is more likely to regard blacks and women as groups rather than as individuals. And, of course, they are seen as indispensable votes.
In their hearts, many Americans on the left do regard blacks as somewhat inferior, meaning, in other words, that they harbor racist views. That is the only explanation for the nearly universal leftist belief that all whites are racist, a libel that your child has probably been taught at college in some diversity or racial sensitivity seminar.
When a white liberal says or writes this, we presume he is including himself. Unless he is saying "all whites except me" are racist -- a claim so megalomaniacal that the claimant risks dismissal as a crackpot -- he obviously means that this includes himself. And in this he is right. One reason that so many liberals believe that all whites are racist is that they are projecting their racism onto all other whites.
It is probable that belief in black inferiority, or at least in black differentness, also helps to explain white liberal support for the lowering of standards for blacks, i.e., affirmative action and quotas. Conservatives believe that no changing of standards is necessary in order for blacks to succeed.
Likewise, one reason many liberal leaders support the feminist agenda and detect sexism wherever possible is that they know their own record and attitudes vis-a-vis women. As is often the case, two of the leading supporters of women's rights -- former President Bill Clinton and Sen. Ted Kennedy -- are known for their mistreatment of women. The same holds true for Hugh Hefner -- the leading displayer of naked women in history, a man who believes that the primary purpose of a woman is to function as a man's (sexual) playmate -- is a major supporter of feminism and feminist organizations. On the other hand, many of the leading Republican national politicians -- such as Sen. Orrin Hatch and the two Presidents Bush -- are noted for their respectful treatment of the women in their lives.
For all these reasons, Sen. Bob Kerrey, liberal, decided to comment publicly only about Condoleezza Rice's personal story.
Like many people of his political persuasion and in his political party, he saw her as an extraordinary black and female well before he saw her as an extraordinary individual.