Jon Sanders

Suffice for it to say that American "liberals" have some very strange ideas about race and gender.

For example, when civil-rights activist and former Atlanta mayor Andrew Young, who is black, can argue that Sen. Hillary Clinton, who is white, is more qualified for president than Sen. Barack Obama, who is black, on the basis that her husband, former president Bill Clinton, who is white, is "as black as Obama," and this entire exercise in race equivocation is taken by his audience as a compelling argument in favor of a candidate for president – well, this was already bizarre enough before Young made his crack about Clinton (Bill, that is) probably having "gone with" (in the beyond-intern sense) "more black women than Obama." At that point a marker was laid down in American racial-politics silliness.

One hopes it was the nadir, the point of terminal battiness beyond which things can do nothing but improve. But so far every time it seems we've finally reached the bottom, we haven't.

So even if this isn't race-silliness rock bottom, what are we to make of the idea of the black man who isn't blacker than the white wife of the white man who's "gone with" some black women? This notion seems to be a (pardon the expression) whitewashing of the old anti-miscegenation "one-drop rule" such that now one rumored tryst makes a white person black, an idea that is then imbued with transitive properties.

It seems so, but is that actually the case? Would Young also have joked that the Duke lacrosse players accused in the infamous hoax were "as black as" Obama, or nearly so, given that they had hired a black stripper? Because last year, Duke visiting professor and author Timothy B. Tyson wrote in The News & Observer of Raleigh, N.C., that "regardless of the truth of the most serious charges," the "spirit of the lynch mob" had lived in the house of the notorious party – that being "rich white boys hiring black 'exotic dancers'," the lacrosse players were upholding a "racial caste system" just like when "white men kept black concubines and mistresses and raped black women at will."

Jon Sanders

Jon Sanders is associate director of research at the John Locke Foundation in Raleigh, N.C.