The cruel irony of affirmative action is that it reinforces and strengthens liberal perceptions of black inferiority. Athough Obama seems smart enough to have gotten into Harvard, it's quite possible that affirmative action policies were partly responsible for his admission. Consequently policies of racial preference have the effect of placing an invisible question mark alongside the achievements of all persons of color.
When Clarence Thomas was nominated to the Supreme Court, it wasn't the Ku Klux Klan or the skinheads who said, "He's just there because he's black." It was the liberal Senators and activist groups that said this. Now Ferraro is saying the same thing about Obama.
Obama has so far presented himself as a non-racial, even post-racial, candidate. His reputation as a figure of racial unity has been sullied by his membership in a radical black church where the preacher has been making anti-white diatribes for more than two decades. Obama cannot just say he doesn’t agree. He needs to prove that he can truly help America move toward Martin Luther’s dream of a race-blind society.
What better way to do that than for Obama to say that racial preferences have now served their purpose and that they need to end? Not only would such a step completely destroy the Ferraro allegation that Obama is at bottom a “race man” who seeks to advance himself because of his skin color. In addition, this would be precisely the kind of bold move that would give Obama’s largely rhetorical campaign some real substance. It would take the Hillary forces completely by surprise. And it would win for Obama much-needed moderate and possibly even some Republican support in the general election.
Obama can launch a new national debate in which for the first time African Americans start asking, "Do these policies of racial preferences actually hurt more than they help?" Already in the wake of Ferraro’s insult some blacks are saying, "Maybe it’s time we stopped assuming that liberal Democrats like Ferraro and Hillary are our natural allies."
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