But there is one very big difference. The vast majority of non-blacks no longer cower before the charge of racism. You can see it in the anger and ferocity of various tea parties' responses to the false accusation of the NAACP. Before the election of Obama, an NAACP attack on one's anti-racist credentials might have been debilitating. No more.
It seems quite possible that the NAACP has now lost whatever moral clout it had among Americans. It is now seen by more and more Americans as what in fact it became some time ago -- an abuser of its civil rights moral cachet.
The charge of racism leveled by liberal organizations, whether black or white, is now regarded as the politically motivated falsehood that it is. It is rightly seen, along with its six siblings -- sexism, xenophobia, intolerance, bigotry, homophobia and "Islamophobia" -- as the Left's way of avoiding argument by demeaning its opponents.
People who are labeled something they know they are not -- and conservatives know they are not racist -- snap at a certain point. One day, the charge loses all its moral power. That happened this past year as a result of the liberal attacks on conservative opposition to Obama as racially based. Every conservative knows that opposition to the Obama and Democratic agenda has nothing to do with the president's color. Does any liberal honestly believe that if Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid were president and pursued the same Leftist agenda Obama has, there would be less conservative opposition because Pelosi and Reid are white?
So, something good has come of this: the de-fanging of the "racist" label. It no longer intimidates conservatives as it once did. But there remains a major downside. To the extent that black Americans still believe that America is racist, or merely that conservatives are racist, they pay a terrible price. Nothing is more debilitating than for an individual or a group to regard themselves as victims when they are not.
For that reason, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People not only does not advance colored people, it inhibits them. And one day, most black Americans will know this.
We hoped that day was Election Day 2008. Many Americans believed that the fact that a black was elected president, and the fact that among 300 million people, there was virtually no identifiable negative reaction to America having a black president, would finally prove that this country is essentially race blind.
But that apparently did not happen.
Therefore, if the NAACP's preoccupation with white racism reflects the thinking of most or even many blacks, it means that there is nothing white America can do to undo the ongoing perception of endemic racism in this country -- a perception that is now considerably more destructive to blacks than to American society as a whole.