Sometimes folks have to face ugly, nasty truths about themselves.
In today's America, blacks have to face the fact that not all our ills are caused by white racism. Whites have to confront the truth that white racism does indeed still exist, contrary to the notion that it has abated. If the absence of white racism were measured on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 representing the least amount of racism, then a reading of history will reveal whites have moved from minus 10 to zero. In short, they have nothing to brag about.
Liberals must confess that some of their well-meaning but flawed ideas simply have not worked. Conservatives, with a few notable exceptions, have not yet come to grips with the fact that on matters of racial and religious bigotry they, for years, were not part of the solution but part of the problem.
Conservatives have, in fact, acted just the opposite. They've walked around with their chests poked out from here to the Rock of Gibraltar, invoking the name of Martin Luther King Jr. for their causes and insisting that they are the ones who are going to lead the nation to racial nirvana.
God help us.
Conservatives leading the move for racial reconciliation? That would be like putting mobster John Gotti at the head of the Justice Department. Nothing proves this better than the maelstrom that ensued when Harford County Del. Nancy Jacobs sent some curious e-mail to a colleague in late June.
Jacobs is a conservative Republican, who has since apologized for sending the e-mail, part of which was a parody that updated "The Ant and the Grasshopper" fable. In the retelling from the conservative viewpoint, the ant loses his home to the government. It seems that lazy, nasty old grasshopper complained of "green bias," "30 million years of greenism" and took his case to the "National Association for the Advancement of Green Bugs." The retold fable was intended as satire, we were told. Where are Mark Twain and Ambrose Bierce now that we really need them?
Jacobs said she didn't see the analogy of the grasshopper to blacks and the NAAGB to the NAACP. There's no reason to doubt her. Judging from the reaction of her fellow conservatives, they've all missed one important point: Conservatives can't afford to tell racial or ethnic jokes.
Conservatives have to hear this from someone, so it may as well be a fellow conservative: The right-wing history of supporting bigots and bigotry is so pathetic that jokes about racial and ethnic groups should be permanently verboten among us.
When those Southern Democrats who systemically kept blacks from political power, used race-baiting to win elections and had no qualms about advocating using the lynch rope to keep blacks from the polls sought a haven from the liberal Democratic party, it was conservative Republicans who welcomed them.
Neal Gabler, in his book "An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood," said that it was anti-Semitic congressmen who inspired the anti-Communist witch hunts of Hollywood Communists in the late 1940's. Lawmakers weren't so much on a Commie hunt as they were on a Jew hunt, Gabler implied. And the hunters were invariably right-wing conservatives.
It's not just that conservatives of the past flirted with racist and anti-Semitic elements. The sad truth is that conservatives flagrantly and lasciviously French-kissed those elements.
Today's conservatives claim they want a colorblind society. That's in stark contrast to those not-so-long-ago days when conservatives accused anyone having the nerve to suggest anything as radical as racial equality of being a Communist or so far left they might as well have been.
In the mid-1960's, former Johns Hopkins University chaplain Chester Wickwire was excoriated before the Baltimore City Council by conservative councilmen who described him as a "pinko," a derogatory term for a left-winger. What were Wickwire's sins? Advocating civil rights and open housing and starting a university tutorial program for poor, inner-city Baltimore children, for starters. One of the most noble and decent men ever to grace this city was demonized as though he were the second coming of Josef Stalin.
Today, conservatives grouse that they are the undeserving victims of those who would impose a harsh code of political correctness on them.
It sounds like the skunk accusing the polecat of having a stench, I say.
Pub Date: 7/26/97