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Monday, January 23, 2006

"You Know What I'm Talkin About"

"You're one of the best Jews we've ever had working here."

Whether it is spoken one on one or to a group, the inability to look beyond another's race, religion or ethnicity is troubling. Add to that pandering and manipulation, and it is abominable.

In reaction to Hillary Clinton's recent MLK speech in a Harlem church (The House "has been run like a plantation, and you know what I'm talking about"), Shelby Steele takes offense at the treatment of blacks as victims in need of white liberal guardianship.

Steele writes:

Mrs. Clinton came to Al Sharpton's MLK celebration looking for an easy harvest of black votes. And she knew the drill--white liberals and Dems whistle for the black vote by pandering to the black sense of grievance. Once positioned as the white champions of this grievance, they actually turn black resentment into white liberal power. Today, Democrats cannot be competitive without this alchemy. So Mrs. Clinton's real insult to blacks--one far uglier than her plantation metaphor--is to value them only for their sense of grievance.

Steele then explains that the liberal politicians cannot succeed in the face of blacks who move forward upon their own powers and abilities. And number one on the Leftist hit parade is Condi Rice. Steele writes:

The archetype that Ms. Rice represents is "overcoming" rather than grievance. Despite a childhood in the segregated South that might entitle her to a grievance identity, she has clearly chosen that older black American tradition in which blacks neither deny injustice nor allow themselves to be defined by it. This tradition, as Ralph Ellison once put it, "springs not from a desire to deny the harshness of existence but from a will to deal with it as men at their best have always done." And, because Ms. Rice is grounded in this tradition, she is of absolutely no value to modern liberalism or the Democratic Party despite her many talents and achievements. Quite the reverse, she is their worst nightmare. If blacks were to take her example and embrace overcoming rather than grievance, the wound to liberalism would be mortal. It is impossible to imagine Hillary Clinton's "plantation" pandering in a room full of Condi Rices.

And Steele explains that nothing will kill today's liberalism quicker than a Rice presidency.

The more ugly her persecution by the civil rights establishment and the left, the more she would give liberalism the look of communism in its last days--an ideology long since hollowed of its idealism and left with nothing save its meanness and repressiveness. Who can say what Ms. Rice will do. But history is calling her, or someone like her. She is the object of a deep longing in America for race to be finally handled, not by political idealisms, but by the classic principles of freedom and fairness.

"You know what I'm talking about".

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