The race card -- 2005

Posted: Jan 13, 2005 12:00 AM

The Democratic Party continues to play the race card for political gain.

The Reverend Jesse Jackson steamed into Ohio, the so-called battleground state that went for Bush, claiming that Ohioans' votes failed to count. "The playing field is uneven," said Jackson. "...We as Americans should not be begging a secretary of state for a fair vote count. We cannot be the home of the thief and the land of the slave."

Remember the claims by John Kerry and others of one million black voters disenfranchised in Florida during the 2000 presidential election? Peter Kirsanow, a black attorney and member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, says the commission's six-month investigation failed to find any evidence of black voter "intimidation." "Not one person was intimidated," says Kirsanow, "[or] had their vote stolen. There was no disenfranchisement . . . no truth to any of those allegations."

According to columnist John Leo, contributing editor at U.S. News and World Report:

If an effort was underway to suppress the black vote, it clearly failed: 900,000 blacks voted in Florida, up 65 percent over the 1996 presidential election. That unexpectedly high total clearly strained the system, put pressure on officials and voters to move along quickly, and kept phone lines clogged when voter verification calls were needed.

P. Diddy, the rapper, music mogul and fashion impresario, spearheaded a "Vote or Die!" voter awareness campaign. Diddy called himself a "disenfranchised voter." "...I'm...a disenfranchised voter," said Diddy, "...because politicians, they just didn't pay attention to us. I call ourselves 'the forgotten ones' -- youth and minority voters. Their campaign trails don't come into our communities unless they go to the churches, and they don't stop and speak to us." Sort of a 21st-century definition of the word "disenfranchisement." Whatever.

Donna Brazile, Al Gore's campaign manager -- and a black woman -- called the Republican Party the party of the "white boys." According to Brazile, "A white boy attitude is, 'I must exclude, denigrate and leave behind.' They don't see it or think about it. It's a culture." (Brazile now serves as an analyst for CNN.)

Samuel L. Jackson is a respected black actor who appeared in more American films than anyone during the 1990s. In April 2000, he appeared on the cover of Architectural Digest, along with Clark Gable, Natalie Wood, William H. Macy, Hedy Lamarr, Marilyn Monroe, Bing Crosby, Doris Day and Claire Danes. Surely the Jackson family celebrated the actor's appearance on the cover, and the glowing inside piece on their lovely home. Wrong. Because Jackson shared the cover with other celebrities, his wife, LaTanya Richardson Jackson, wrote to the magazine and accused it of racism:

"It is with sincere regret that I write to tell you how disappointing it is to see my husband, Samuel L. Jackson, featured in the lower left-hand corner on the cover of your April 2000 issue," wrote Mrs. Jackson. "It seems a very odd and racist placement. In the magazine racks of most establishments you don't see him at all; perhaps that was the point. I hardly think anyone is really more interested in all of the dead people you chose to prominently display . . . ."

More recently, the actor implied racism on the part of the National Basketball Association for severe punishment of athletes involved in the Detroit Pistons/Indiana Pacers' brawl in Michigan:

...[I]t kinda looked like a, you know, black-athlete-beatin'-up-white-fan fight more so than, you know, athletes versus fans.... It looked like it was [a racial element], and I'm sure Commissioner Stern had to defuse that situation, like getting rid of the bad guy. But you can't deprive a guy of makin' a livin' all year, just because he did something like that.

Actor Will Smith blamed racism for the AIDS epidemic. "I firmly believe that it is quite highly possible," said Smith, "that the AIDS virus is the result of genetic warfare testing."

Richard Williams, father of tennis sensations Venus and Serena Williams, also has three stepdaughters -- one is an actress and singer, one is a lawyer, and one, now deceased, attended medical school. His view of America's "race relations"? "In America," says Williams, "black people doesn't really have an opportunity at nothin'. . . . It's kinda bad bein' black in America."

Polls find young blacks less likely to call racism America's No. 1 issue. A Time/CNN poll found 89 percent of black teens consider racism in their own lives to be "a small problem" or "not a problem at all." Twice as many black teens as white believe that "failure to take advantage of available opportunities" is a bigger problem for blacks than discrimination. Polls and focus groups show younger blacks less likely to identify themselves as Democrats, and more likely to support partial privatization of Social Security, school vouchers and the abolition of race-based preferences. This spells trouble for the Democratic Party and its monolithic black vote.

Horrors! The Democrats may have to find another card to play.

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