Last month, an intriguing little congressional pow-wow was clandestinely held -- no press invited -- in the Northern Virginia town of Leesburg. It was a three-day conference, and attendance appears to have been restricted by ethnicity and race.
But this was not a gathering of the Leesburg chapter of the White Citizens Council. It was a conclave of three congressional caucuses -- the Black Caucus, the Hispanic Caucus and the Asia Pacific Caucus. And the invitation list appears to have been made up with one provision in mind: No whites need apply.
As described in a front-page story in The New York Times, the goal of this "tri-caucus retreat" was to "create an atmosphere of understanding among groups that have often felt pitted against one another for resources and recognition." But as the caucuses claim to represent only Americans of African, Asian and Hispanic descent, just what were they uniting for, and who are they uniting against?
Now since the Democratic Party has been fairly described as a "collection of warring tribes that has come together in anticipation of common plunder," and all attendees were Democrats, there was lots of talk of a joint looting expedition at the expense of taxpayers.
Attendees pointed to their common front on the $175 billion farm bill, where the Black Caucus demanded an expansion of the food stamp program, and the Hispanic Caucus demanded restoration of food stamps for immigrants. Apparently, they had jointly triumphed.
Another "shining example" of collusion was in Texas, where Hispanics and blacks joined forces to nominate Tony Sanchez for governor and African-American Ron Kirk for Senate. Capturing the seats lately held by George W. Bush and Phil Gramm for a Hispanic and an African American would apparently be real progress.
But all this raises a question: If it is acceptable for blacks and Hispanics to collude to seize power from white Americans, why is it a violation of civil rights for whites to collude to increase their representation in legislatures at the expense of minorities? If the latter is racism, why is the former progress?
The closer one reads Lynette Clemetson's Times' story, the more it appears this Leesburg summit was not about the politics of aiding the poor and powerless against the rich and powerful. This secret summit was about how folks of Third World ancestry can join forces to seize power and resources from white America.
For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction is a law of Newtonian physics. The same is true in politics. If it has become acceptable for caucuses that represent people of color to join against America's white majority, look for white folks to begin to identify themselves by race, rather than party or philosophy, to preserve what they have. Has The New York Times considered the consequences of what its reporter seems to be celebrating?
All, however, was not harmony at Leesburg. Seems that last January, Latino businessman broke away from the National Minority Auto Dealers Association to form the National Hispanic Auto Dealers Association. Reported without comment. Can one imagine the Times' reaction to a Euro-American Auto Dealers Association?
As Clemetson's story runs on, the Spirit of Leesburg began to reveal itself in the entertainment: "Audience members sat rapt as Sarah Jones, a socially conscious writer and actress ... slipped in and out of accents to portray characters from a Mexican-American labor organizer to a new immigrant from Haiti who scolded listeners: 'God bless America, but not because of you. Remember, your ancestors came here, too.'"
Would it be impertinent to ask who "you" is? And if this us-versus-them racial rhetoric is acceptable at a Third World caucus-coalition, why is it a hate crime for white folks? Nor was this the end of the fun. Writes Clemetson: "Beau Sea, a Chinese-American slam poet from Oklahoma, raised eyebrows with his confrontational number, 'The Asians are coming':
"We are everywhere
We are programming your Websites
Making your executives look smart
And getting into your schools -- for free
And you know what?
It's only gonna get bigger."
Middle America, hello. From what went down at Leesburg, it is clear the old idea of integration and assimilation, of one nation and one people, is giving way among elites of color to a racial and ethnic spoils system. And as "Anglos" are a minority in California already and soon to be a minority in Texas, perhaps they should start asking what kind of country it is going to be when they are outnumbered nationwide by mid-century.