A Necessary Statement of the Obvious

Carol Platt Liebau
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Posted: Jan 11, 2010 1:02 PM
African American columnist Gregory Kane points out the obvious about Harry Reid's comments -- liberal Democrats can be racist, too.

Actually, this is a fact that should be obvious, but actually isn't in too many parts of the African American community.  Democrats have done a very good job in painting opposition to a big government, big-spending liberal agenda as racism -- even as they themselves are completely unable to point out any tangible benefits to African Americans, as a whole, that have been achieved by inner city governments that have been Democrat-only enclaves.

What's most disheartening is if African Americans understand that Reid's comments were racist -- and then decide that means that all Republicans AND all Democrats are secretly racist.

It's not so.  The sad fact, of course, is that some Republicans are racist.  Some are not.  Some Democrats are racist.  Some are not.  Some African Americans are racist.  Some are not.

Rather than simply using the Reid gaffe to score cheap political points, Republicans should use it as a (to use a hackneyed phrase) "teachable moment."  Although some conservative policies may be advocated by some whose real agenda is unfriendly, most conservatives actually want the best for their country and their fellow citizens who happen to be African Americans-- they just don't see the liberal agenda as effective for that end. 

Conversely, African Americans would be wrong to see every proponent of the liberal agenda as a friend to their community -- sometimes, apparently, Democrats are apparently deeply condescending (even contemptuous) toward them. 

And the idea itself -- being pushed by Democrats in defense of Reid -- that one must hold liberal positions on topics including education funding (for a system that already fails a disproportionate number of African Americans) and community-oriented policing, is itself racist, too.  It assumes that all African Americans are the same and defined primarily by the color of their skin, and that a legislator must hold one certain set of ideas in order to represent the entire African American community, in all its own diversity.  Now that's racism.