When Barack Obama was elected president of the United States, every prominent conservative I know was unhappy that a left-wing Democrat had been elected, but was very happy that a black had won. Among conservatives, the general thinking was that it was good for America, good for blacks, and good for the world to see that America -- so often, in the conservative view -- unfairly criticized as racist, could and did elect a black man as president.
The conservative position has for decades been that the Left's criticism of America as a racist country with "systemic" racism was a calumny. We conservatives did not merely believe, we knew that America had become the least racist country in the world. That is why, among many other indicators, more blacks have emigrated from Africa to America than came here as slaves (New York Times, Feb. 21, 2005). Apparently, these Africans did not believe the lie about America's racism. They came here for liberty and opportunity and got both.
When it came to the likely consequences of the election of a black president, we conservatives -- including this one -- were fooled. The election of a black as president of the United States has evidently had no impact on the use of the lie about American racism. Just as the American people's adoration of a black woman, Oprah Winfrey, and the appointment of two blacks, one a woman -- by a Republican president -- as secretary of state had no impact, so, too, the election of Barack Obama has had no impact.
Virtually every liberal commentator who has written or spoken on this issue has described political opposition to Mr. Obama -- not only that of the tea parties -- as racist.
And now, the NAACP has demanded that the tea parties cleanse themselves of the racist elements in their midst.
The argument that the NAACP did nothing wrong in demanding that the tea parties condemn the racist elements in their midst, since it noted that the tea parties are not racist, is disingenuous. Imagine the (legitimate) uproar if the most prestigious organization that fights child molestation declared that while the ACLU was not itself in favor of child molestation, it had so many child molesters in its midst that it needed to publicly condemn child molestation and work to remove the child molesters among its members.
One year and eight months after the president's election, one can say with certitude that the election of a black has done nothing to change the dominant story (because the Left dominates our stories) about American racism. It is as central to the liberal/Left depiction of America now as it has been since the civil rights era.