Jewish World Review Dec. 28, 2000/ 2 Teves, 5761
Black power with a Republican face
WE BECOME CAPTIVE of points of view we don't often hear as visitors arrive from all parts of the
country to join us for the holidays. When a motley crew of old friends and family return to celebrate
the New Year, we grit our teeth and bite our tongues, and grant them the mellow cheerfulness to
speak their mind without confronting them with argument. Tradition, love, friendship and the blood
that's thicker than wine trumps partisanship. So do good manners (sometimes).
At one feast a disgruntled Democrat, for example, raised a glass with "Hail to the thief.'' Nary a
Bushite rises to the bait. A Republican merely counters with a smug appeal to "All's well that end's
well.'' A Democrat treats it as an observation for the year's end rather than a post-election
Those more nostalgic cheer the lost causes of Bill Bradley, John McCain and Ralph Nader. They
get a pass with a glass, too.
But one political leader rankles all but the most militant blacks in our midst. Everyone agrees that the
Rev. Jesse Jackson had a right to protest on behalf of blacks whom he felt were unfairly treated in
the voting in Florida, but most everyone agrees that his rhetoric is out of sync with the offense he
challenged. He said -- and continues to say-- that the only way George W. could win was by using
There's an honorable tradition of hyperbole in political rhetoric, but George W. Bush and Dick
Cheney as Heinrich Himmler and Joseph Goebbels only inflames further divisiveness between black
and white. Jesse Jackson becomes increasingly irrational and even dangerous as a spokesman for
When he could focus on authentic successes as Colin Powell, the first black Secretary of State, and
Candoleezza Rice, the first black woman to be national security adviser, he appeals instead to the
lowest instincts of the people he leads. He takes as his own role model a Klansman of a discredited
era. Words have consequences. His ugly language excites vicious passions.
It's easy these days to criticize the likes of Louis Farrakhan, whose rhetoric is widely condemned
for its blatant anti-Semitism and attacks on whites as subhuman, but Jesse Jackson continues to be a
leader coddled by those who know better no matter how outrageous his rhetoric.
By charging the Republicans with Nazi tactics, he suggests images of storm troopers. Such
intemperance in an educated man does not flow from ignorance, which makes the offense even
worse. His rhetoric lacks ameliorating appeals to real black heroes who are succeeding not only in
sports and show biz, but in the arts, education, law and medicine.
Debra Dickerson, a senior fellow at the New America Foundation, expresses concern over the
single-minded thinking of blacks in America who refuse to accept the intellectual challenges raised
by black Republicans. Instead these blacks create their own stereotypes.
"Black Republicans are, oh, dear, Uncle Toms,'' she writes in The Washington Post, "a schoolyard
taunt we refuse to outgrow that's meant to coerce conformity.'' That's meant to coerce
conformity is the crucial phrase here. It used to be that whites wouldn't let blacks off the
plantation. Now it's blacks who oversee the intellectual plantation that limits constructive debate and
the competition of ideas.
Debra Dickerson suggests that blacks treat Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice like rebel children
in a family where parents take no pride in their accomplishment because they don't use their power
and influence precisely as parents think they should. This is a familiar lament found in immigrant
families whose children have moved into wider circles outside their smaller ethnic group.
Blacks, of course, have a unique history in America and power has been harder to achieve. But like
other immigrants, they are now succeeding far beyond a narrow group-think. Colin Powell and
Condoleezza Rice are the future, says Miss Dickerson, "blacks who believe that Americans
marched and died to free them to follow their desires and talents wherever they lead.''
This is the lesson Jesse Jackson must learn --and teach -- in the New Year if he wants to remain
relevant to anyone. But don't hold your
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12/08/00: Return of the 'second sex' on campus
12/04/00: Politics as entertainment today
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11/02/00: His own man in full
10/30/00: The Oval Office, through a glass brightly
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10/19/00: The celebrity candidate
10/16/00: 'Ladies night' at the second debate
10/12/00: Gore vs. Bush: Volvo vs. Maserati
10/10/00: We weep for Rami for he is dead
10/05/00: Looking at Lieberman from inside the 'ghetto'
10/02/00: Campaigns, candidates, and kissy-face
09/28/00: Laughing and crying over Joe Lieberman
09/21/00: Targeting teenagers for money
09/21/00: Sexual politics in New York
09/18/00: Surviving the stereotypes and debates
09/14/00: Gloria Steinem runs cheerfully into captivity
09/12/00: Sex in the eye of the partisan
09/07/00: 'Sex and death' on the college campus
09/05/00: Joe Lieberman as a 'Menorah Man'
08/31/00: Rising suns of the conventions
08/17/00: Changing icons: From Loretta Young to Hillary Clinton
08/14/00: The Creator returns to the public square
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07/27/00: The party of the aging Playboys
07/24/00 Hillary drives the Jewish wagon into a ditch
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07/10/00: Abortion as cruel and unusual punishment
07/06/00: Surviving 'survivor' TV
07/03/00: Independence Day with Norman Rockwell
06/29/00: Here comes 'something old'
06/26/00: Waiting too long for the baby
06/22/00: Good teachers, curious students and oxymorons
06/19/00: Wanted: Some ants for Gore's pants
06/15/00: Like father, like daughter
06/12/00: Culture wars and conservative warriors
06/08/00: Return of the housewife
06/05/00: Hillary and Al -- playing against type
05/31/00: The sexual revolution confronts the SUV
05/25/00: Waiting for the movie
05/22/00: Pistol packin' mamas
05/18/00: Journalists and the 'new time' religion
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05/11/00: 'The Human Stain' on campus
05/09/00: We've come a long way, Betty Friedan
05/04/00: From George Washington to Mansa Masu
05/01/00: Gore's ruthless doublespeak
04/28/00: Doing it Castro's way
04/24/00: Women's studies beget narrow minds
04/17/00: The slippery slope of anti-Semitism
04/13/00: A villain larger than life
04/10/00: When mourning becomes an economic tragedy
04/03/00: The last permissible bigotry
03/30/00: Seeking the political Oscar
03/23/00: The gaying of America
03/20/00: Pointy-eared quadrupeds on campus
03/16/00: The shocking art of the establishment
03/13/00: Sawdust on the campaign trail
03/10/00: Campaign rhetoric of manhood
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01/31/00: George W. -- 'Ladies man' and 'man's man'
01/27/00: Dead white males and live white politicians
01/25/00: Smarting over presidential smarts
01/21/00: A post-modern song for `The Sopranos'
01/19/00: When personality is a long-distance plus
01/13/00: French lessons in amour --- and marriage
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01/07/00: Liddy Dole as the face of feminism
01/04/00: Hillary: From victim to victor
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12/27/99: In search of a candidate with strength and eloquence
12/21/99: The president as First Lady
12/16/99: Columbine with blurred hindsight
12/09/99: Homeless deserve discriminating attention
12/07/99: Casual censors and deadly know-nothings
12/02/99: Why mom didn't make general: A reality tale
11/30/99: Potholes on the road to the Promised Land
11/25/99: A feast for the spirit and the stomach
11/23/99: Fathers need to say 'I (can) do'
11/18/99: Adventures of a conservative pundit
11/15/99: Traveling with Jefferson on the information highway
11/11/99: Wanted: 'Foliage of forbiddinness' for the oval office
11/09/99: Eggs, art and rotten commerce
11/05/99: Al Gore, 'Alpha Male'. Bow wow.
11/01/99: Gay love
10/28/99: Lose one Dole, lose two
10/26/99: Rebels with a violent cause
10/21/99: Reforming parents, reforming schools
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10/01/99: Lincoln's 'Almost Chosen People'
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09/27/99: Must we wait for the next massacre?
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09/16/99: The Cisneros lesson
09/13/99: No clemency for personal politics
09/08/99: M-M-M is for manhood
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©1999, Suzanne Fields. Distributed by Los Angeles Times Syndicate