Larry Elder

 So, do you use against your opponent the fact that he took and flunked the bar examination four times? A little more information. The players in this nasty race are real. The city is Los Angeles, and the incumbent mayor is a white man named James Hahn. His challenger, a Latino, is a city councilman named Antonio Villaraigosa.

 If elected, Villaraigosa would become the first Latino mayor in the city of Los Angeles since the 1870s.

 Let's turn it around.

 Suppose Antonio Villaraigosa is the incumbent mayor, and he faces a challenge from a successful, white politician. But this successful white politician took and flunked the bar four times, never passing it. Are we supposed to believe that Villaraigosa wouldn't bring this up?

 Face it. There's a no-fly zone over challenging Villaraigosa's academic background. Why? Hahn fears being labeled racist if he dares raise this question against his Latino opponent. Sadly, this shows that the mayor does not treat his opponent as an equal. He sees Villaraigosa as a member of a protected class, not as an individual opponent with strengths and weaknesses.

 Few critics had a problem calling President George W. Bush "stupid." As a white, male, Southern, Christian Republican, Bush enjoys no hands-off treatment. Though he attended Yale and received an MBA from Harvard, Bush's critics constantly call him "dumb."

 On election night, Newsweek wrote about a frustrated candidate John Kerry, who said, "I can't believe I'm losing to this idiot." During the campaign, when Bush suffered a bicycle accident, Kerry said: "What happened? Did his training wheels fall off?" Martin Sheen called the president "a moron." Cartoonist Aaron McGruder pronounced him a "functional illiterate."

 Here's another recent example of why politicians tiptoe around minorities lest they get called "racist." California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, in an interview with newspaper publishers, said the borders "should be closed." He discussed, among other things, President Bush's proposal for a guest worker program. But never mind, the fit hit the shan.

 California Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, a Democrat, said, "When comments like that are made, racism once again tries to surface its ugly head upon the people of the state of California."

 Schwarzenegger promptly apologized, calling his remark a "total screw-up," said he meant "secure" the border and, incredibly, blamed the mistake on the fact that English is not his first language.

 Moral to the story? Certain minorities are perceived to be too weak, fragile, insecure or unintelligent to be treated as equals. So much for content of character.

Larry Elder

Larry Elder is a best-selling author and radio talk-show host. To find out more about Larry Elder, or become an "Elderado," visit