Walter E. Williams

Presidential aspirant Hillary Clinton used Rev. Al Sharpton's Martin Luther King Jr. birthday celebration to, as Professor Shelby Steele explains, "whistle for the black vote by pandering to the black sense of grievance." In response to a question from the audience: "I need you to tell us what distinguishes Democrats from Republicans right now," Sen. Clinton answered, "When you look at the way the House of Representatives has been run, it has been run like a plantation, and you know what I'm talking about . . . " Though the audience was largely black, I doubt whether any of the attendees had any plantation experience.

Sen. Clinton was simply employing the Democrats' political rope-a-dope for blacks.

As Professor Steele asks in his Wall Street Journal editorial, "Hillary's Plantation": "Must blacks have their slave past rubbed in their face simply for Hillary Clinton to make a little hay against modern-day Republicans?" Steele also asks, "Does she really see us as she projects us -- as a people so backward that our support can be won with a simple plantation reference, and the implication that Republicans are racist?"

Sen. Clinton is not alone with such demeaning pandering.

Before a predominantly black audience, during his 2004 presidential bid, Sen. John Kerry said, in reference to so many more blacks in prison than college, "That's unacceptable, but it's not their fault." Aside from Kerry being factually wrong about more blacks being in prison than in college, his vision differs little from one that holds blacks as a rudderless, victimized people who cannot control their destiny and whose best hope depends upon the benevolence of white people.

I wonder whether Kerry would have told a white audience that jailed white people were faultless. Kerry's other black-audience-only gambit was seen after he addressed the NAACP's 95th annual convention in Philadelphia; he gave the audience the black power clenched-fist salute.

The subtitle to Professor Steele's article is "Hillary Clinton reveals her fear of Condi Rice." He explains that Democrat liberalism has survived decades past the credibility of its ideas because it captured black resentment as an exclusive source of its power.

That power will be gone the very day that a significant number of blacks cease to be a people of grievance. This is potentially a Republican advantage. The Democrats and the liberal establishment know that, which is why they vilify high-profile blacks who aren't filled with resentment and grievance.

There are quite a few blacks in charge of stoking the fires of resentment and grievance.

Walter E. Williams

Dr. Williams serves on the faculty of George Mason University as John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics and is the author of 'Race and Economics: How Much Can Be Blamed on Discrimination?' and 'Up from the Projects: An Autobiography.'
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