Take the "tea parties," which have been accused of racism by the NAACP, the Congressional Black Caucus, mainstream media outlets and entertainer-activists such as Janeane Garofalo, who proclaimed they are "about hating a black man in the White House. This is racism straight up." So, after nearly two years of "experts" telling us that the typical tea party member is two holes in a white sheet shy of being a Klansman, guess who is arguably the most popular tea party candidate for president? Herman Cain, a black businessman.
Perhaps the most telling sign of the changing racial landscape comes with voting patterns, though not at the ballot box. Blacks -- particularly among the young and educated -- are voting with their feet by leaving cities like New York, Chicago and Detroit in huge numbers and moving to places like Atlanta, Charlotte and Dallas. Clement Price, a Rutgers history professor, told the New York Times, "The black urban experience has essentially lost its appeal with blacks in America."
(One reason that might be the case: Black entrepreneurialism skyrocketed from 2002-07, according to the census. Perhaps the rise in black-owned small businesses breeds disenchantment with big-city bureaucracy?)
For years, liberals have glibly smeared the GOP as racist because it is disproportionately Southern. Obviously there are historical reasons behind the charge, but in 2011? If the region is so racist, why are blacks so eager to flee to the less "progressive" South?
Blacks are still largely lockstep Democratic voters and will probably remain so for a while. But when you listen to the likes of West and Clyburn, never mind silly white liberals like Garofalo, one cannot help but be reassured that the ground is shifting under their feet as inexorably as it shifted under the feet of racists more than a generation ago.
Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online and a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. You can write to him in care of this newspaper or by e-mail at JonahsColumn@aol.com, or via Twitter @JonahNRO.